Friday, May 6, 2016


       The Payyanur Poduvals are often categorized along with the large ambalavasi community by the same name, residing in Thrissur and neighboring districts. In fact Payyanur Poduvals are distinct and forms a separate community without any connection between poduvals elsewhere. Payyanur poduvals have their origin  with the establishment of Payyanur Subramanya temple. History reveals us that  the first Brahmin settlement in Kerala is Payyanur which was a leading village or gramam which eventually enjoyed the position of the Brahmin capital  in Kerala. Before Brahmin settlement the population of Payyanur was  small. The land was waterlogged and devoid of any cultivation. That is why we cannot find any remains of prehistoric habitation in and around the present day Payyanur, barring , of course the stone drawings and burials cites at places like ettukudukka and ezhimala. The Brahmins easily made a domination over the local inhabitants with their knowledge of paddy cultivation and astrology. They dug canals for draining water to the rivers and made the fields suitable for paddy cultivation. They brought alongwith them the plough , paddy and some insights regarding the advent of monsoon beforehand so that the land and paddy saplings  could be made ready before the fields get flooded. The entire era of subjugation, with the land owners slowly converting to laboureres and the foreigners as their masters thus began. The Brahmins easily accessed all land and made it the property of the main deity, Payyanur  Subramanya swamy. The land became devaswom with the  landlord at the helm of affairs and the Brahmins started to rule the land in the name of God.
In fact the migration of Brahmins started much earlier and the male   foreigners married the women from higher castes like Nairs and Nambiars. The offsprings from such unions are believed to be the forefathers of Payyanur Poduvals. The temple administration needed help from the local community for its day to day functioning. The search for a community which is predominantly vegetarian finally zeroed on Poduval families. Ten families were brought from neighboring places for the purpose. Besides marars as drummers and their women folk for making garlands for the deity, the entire duties connected with the temple  were entrusted with these ten families. Keeping the temple accounts, providing security, cleaning the sanctum sanctorum etc were given to these families in turns called oozhams
These families later became the heart of the main poduval community. They are
Later on all these ten families grew in number and several new groups originated with new names. Even now the payyanur temple is administered by a committee comprising of six representatives of Brahmin families, viz Thelakkat mana, Kunhimangalath mana, Thaliyil mana, Rayaramangalath mana (called Ooralanmar) and 15 representatives from  Poduval community (Two   each from Poonthuruthi, Uthamanthil, Edichery, Karanta, Kurunthil and one each from Paranthatta, Karippath, Vellora, Theppath and Kelan(Kaaralanmaar)
When the gramam grew Poduval community emerged very strong as the landlord appointed them in chief positions. Payyanur is a typical village with all communities living in harmony. Every community has a mother deity and a kavu revered by all members. Usually a poduval is appointed as a Koima to these kavus. The koima acts as a mediator for the community.

In modern times, When Tippu marched to Malabar almost all the Brahmin landlords escaped to Travancore. Tippu authorized their powers to Poduval chieftains. Thus they grew very powerful until the death of tippu. When the British gained power, the Brahmins were brought back and the land was again assigned to them.

1 comment:

  1. Was reading this when I noticed that one of the 10 family names looked familiar. One of my colleague's surname is 'Uthamanthil'. What a surprise I gave him today.. :-D