Naliya, Kutch

Drums, noise and hunting the tigers the Royal way. This is how we killed almost all our tigers. And I guess, Velu Pillai Prabhakaran and his cubs.

Royals. The tiger hunt firecracker.

"Dumara Dumara Dum
The tiger has come
Take a little gun/gum
And stick it on his bum"

Old Ahmedabad

Auto Art.

Varanapally Temple, Puthupally. Kayankulam

Village Temple Vs Urban Gods
Stories from behind the ornate locks of Varanapalli Temple.

This is the lady who sweeps the courtyard around the Varanapalli Temple. She and her family is in charge of keeping a quarter of the courtyard clean. She also helps with the many daily needs of the temple. For example, while we were there she was also making the preparations for lunch the next day to the village committee members who were having a meeting the next day. The menu was a nice spread. A semi-sadhya and it required quite a bit of preparation.

The story of the woman and the others like her are that they were distributed what was originally the temple land on which they live and cultivate.

Over the decades, almost all of the useful land that belonged to the temple has been distributed to the people who worked on it.

But look at the fields around the temple and you will notice that there is very little paddy cultivation anymore. The entire region which was a network of waterways that supported paddy cultivation has been filled in and used to build homes, plant less-labour intensive coconut and breed new strains of mosquitoes.

The water network of this region built over centuries is actually a marvel. However, it is dying and almost dead. No wonder, Kerala imports most of the food it consumes.

The rituals, that were dedicated to farming remain during festivals and temple festivals. But how relevant are these rituals in a non-farming landscape that this rural temple now occupies?

That would also explain the changing religious practices of the Hindus. The gods who are gaining popularity are not linked to the soil or the local economy. It's faraway Ayyappa, Mookambika, even Shani. There's the growing popularity of Ganesha and Saturn/Shani , who are more apt for the present economic needs. Greed and luck. I wonder if the Village Goddesses are losing their shine.


Kerala beauty extracting coconut oil.

Varanapally Temple, Puthupally. Kayankulam

Kayankulam Kochunni leaves his mark
Stories from behind the ornate locks of Varanapalli Temple.

In the earlier post, I wrote about the the influential student of the school at Varanapalli, Sri Narayana Guru. Nearly a century before Sri Narayana Guru, another interesting person, Kayankulam Kochunni, the Robinhood of Kerala, happened to come to the same place. No, he was not a student, but a friend of one of the main members of the Varanapalli family.

One day, Kochunni visited his friend at Varanapalli. As they stood chatting, the Panikar asked Kochunni, who was already famous as a master thief, if he had the courage to steal from the Varanapalli family. Kochunni just smiled. The next day when the Panikkar woke up, he discovered that a vessel that was kept inside the house, where he slept behind a locked door, was kept in the courtyard of the house. Kayankulam Kochunni has broken in and left his mark.

The white box in the above picture shows the place where a hidden lock was placed. Apparently, Kochunni, who was chewing paan, had marked the spot even as the Panikar was challenging him and came back at night to break in.

Kochunni himself was an interesting character. He stole from the rich and gave it to the poor. But at the same time, he was friends with the richest family in this part of Kerala. He only broke into Varanapalli once, but he didn't steal a thing from the richest and most powerful house in theis part of the world, then.

Selective Robinhood.

Here's a picture of the house (on the right) and the temple

And I love the marks left on this thorth (the cotton towel of Kerala)


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