Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Padi river





Padi river flows quietly . The unexpected motor strike has opened up a possibility of visiting padi , my old pal. Walking through the narrow muddy path through the paddy field which is getting ready for the third cultivation , my nostrils imbibed a rejuvenating smell of decaying hey and mud  which immediately took me to my childhood days. 
One of our childhood fascinations was the 'Uoni', the substitute for the wheel used in  southern Kerala used for draining paddy fields. Fastened to a tripod to touch  water, draining water with Uoni was a pleasant experience. Large mollusks with their heap of white eggs and multicolored mussels welcomed the old friend. A group of tiny fish splashed out seeing the intruder. The narrow path was flooded as it was high tide.
Padi river brings forth many memories. The karivellur struggle has reached its climax after the firing at Kuniyan . The uprising at karivellur under the leadership of AV Kunhambu against the landlords who stole  every thing from the people was an event  which will inspire every one.  On those days people starved to death  while the granaries of the landlords were full . With only sticks and stones in their hands, hundreds of common men and women fought with the British Police to desist them from taking away a stock of paddy to  Chirakkal Kovilakam as the farmers who have  cultivated the paddy were dying of hunger. It was through this same river that the bodies of the  two martyrs of the struggle and Comrade AV Kunhambu soaked in blood and considered to be dead in the firing where taken to Valapattanam in a boat. 
Nowadays both kuniyan and padi attracts a number of migratory birds . Two large  pelicans were fishing in the fields. They have probably traveled thousands of kilometers to this tiny hamlet. One of them raised her eyes to me. There were two boys collecting mussel in the river. The unmanned fiber boat which could be maneuvered with a rope tide to the other end was waiting for me.I doubted whether to cross or not when a distance drum beat announced that there is theyyam somewhere on the other side. Now there is nothing to be decided . I got into the boat and pulled the rope. 
The 'Kambrath Ara' from where the drum beat originated was deserted when I reached there. It was learnt that the original theyyam festival was held a couple of days back and what is going on is a special theyyam.  People have become more superstitious nowadays and the number of special theyyams have grown to such proportions that the slot for two or three years to come have been sold out. 
Why such an illogical competition? There seems to be a nexus between the astrologers and temple committees.Sociologically my only answer is a possibility. The new world has taken away all signs of identity each sect of people within a community possesses. Formerly there were purely family functions each tharavadu celebrate alone. Now every one within a community celebrate the same festivals. So the secret wish to preserve once identity propts them to make special occasions in which members of a particular sect alone take place.   
Thus I got a very rare opportunity of witnessing a theyyam in a lesser crowd. But still the artist performing vishnumoorthi did not heed the number of spectotors. The theyyattam was perfect



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