Tuesday, 28 June 2011


The Notes have been posted as my Comments in BRP Bhaskar's Blog "Kerala Letter' on his blog post captioned 'Does Thazhamon family have a better story than Cheerappanchira and Malayarayans?' of May 28, 2011.

Alangad Yogam is the 'father's yogam'; and Ambalapuzha Yogam is the 'mother's yogam'. What connection does Ayyappan's father have with Alangad, and mother with Ambalapuzha?

Kesari Balakrishna Pillai's 'followers' tell the following story:
In one of his missions, Udayanan first plundered the Avalokiteswara Vihara for the treasures there and then proceeded to the Pandalam palace.

At the Pandalam palace, Kaampillil Panikkar was the Commander of the forces. He was thinking of retirement due to old age, and was training his son at the Palace, to take over.

At the time of Udayanan's attack, the younger Panikkar was away somewhere and the old Commander could not fight off Udayanan.

Udayanan overcame the Pandalam security and took away their Princess, who was the only sister of the King. Their mother had been married in from Ambalapuzha royalty.

After some hours, the younger Kaampillil Panikkar turned up and was grief-stricken to hear about the Princess' abduction. He immediately set off after Udayanan with his available assistants.

They reached Udayanan's camp at nightfall; and consensus was reached to attack at daybreak, for lack of light then.

However, the young Panikkar could not wait, presumed to be due to his emotions for the Princess. And he stole into the Camp alone, and managed to take off with the Princess in the darkness.

On their way back, the Princess who felt that her return would only cause loss of honour to the Royalty, and the consenting Panikkar decided not to return to the Palace, but to go into hiding and be together.

Pandalam was 'padma-dala-puram', with ten 'dalam's or villages; one of which was Ponnambalamedu in the forests. The romantic duo decided to settle at Ponnambalamedu, away from public view.

Eventually, they had a son, who grew up with the animals around, including tigers and leopards.

In one of his hunting expeditions some time later, the Pandalam king happened to pass Ponnambalamedu, and found his lost sister and former Commander-designate. The King requested them to return, and the couple refused. The King then demanded that his nephew, the heir to the throne be given to him. This had to be acceded to, and the King returned after the hunt with a son from the wilderness.

[Another version is that the King, enraged at the Commander-designate after hearing the story from the soldiers who returned to Pandalam, used to raid Ponnambalamedu often and was fought off by the Kampillil Panikkar. In the last expedition, Panikkar could not withstand; and the Royal party killed both parents of Ayyappa and set fire to the village. The King spared the child who was his blood-heir, and took him away with him to the palace.]

Kaampillil is a Nayar family at Muppathadom near Eloor in Ernakulam district. Muppathadom and the surrounding area were parts of the Alangad kingdom.

To get help against Udayanan later on, it was only natural for Ayyappan to go to Alangad and his father’s people. The subsequent story of the defeat of Udayanan in the combined attack by Alangad and Ambalappuzha yogam is known.

Dr.S.K.Nayar mentions Kaampillil Panikkar and Mulleppallil Nayar as being members of Ayyappan’s Alangad battallion. Mulleppalil is reportedly Dr.Nayar’s ancestors as well.

Two groups are now fighting in Court to be the Alangad Yogam, which position gives a lot of privileges at Sabarimala. One is at Manjapra, near Angamaly; and the other is at Alangad village itself. Both places were in Alangad kingdom in olden days. Manjapra group says that they are descendents of the Parvathyakar [pravarthyaar] of the Alangad Raja, entrusted with sending the Petta troupe to Sabarimala every year; and this right makes them the genuine Alangad Yogam. The Alangad set asks how people far away from Alangad village itself could be any Alangad Yogam.

I learned of the Kampillil connection from informal talk with both groups; and happened to learn of Kesari’s version only later on. I went to Muppathadom and met the current members of the family. They have an Ayyappa temple which the locals call the ‘original Alangad Yogam’.

The family has no male heir now. The 70 and above year old ladies that I talked to said that they are not interested in any Yogam recognition. One of them said her son had been the last male heir of the family. After the two other groups started fighting each other in Court over the title, one group sent goons after this heir though he was not involved in the title-battle. They attacked the house and terrorised the young man, who was a non-interfering KSEB worker. The trauma made him ill and he died soon after, while still in his thirties. ‘We don’t want any Yogam or its money, Sir; we want to be left alone’ were their words.

I had been to Cheerappan Chira also; and was only happy to hear their story that Ayyappan was their family member, that 3/4th of his divine powers are in their temple and that Sabarimala has only 1/4th. The 3/4th goes to Sabarimala for Makara Vilakku every year. I think that their selling their version stronger would help Arthunkal Palli also.

At the Arthunkal Palli nearby, I was told that 1. the then priest of the Church [Rev. Fr. Velutha] only recommended and got Ayyappan admitted into Cheerappan Chira Military Academy and 2. Arthunkal Palli was founded by Ayyappan’s first cousin and real son of Pandalam Raja. Sebastian had been the prince’s Christian name on conversion by Zabor Easo at Nilakkal. That is how Arthunkal Palli is ‘St.Sebastian’s Church’.

The Vellalas of Tamilnadu have in their own way, proved that Ayyappan was neither Nayar nor Eazhava; but is ‘Vellaalan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami’.

I write this impromptu and without preparation. By the way, did you ever read the 1920s-written Bhoothanaathopakhyaanam?

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