kodukkuka (Giving sweets)
practice of giving milk and fruit to the bride and bridegroom
immediately after marriage in front of a lit nilavilakku
(holy lamp) is known as Madhuram kodukkuka
Mamangam was a celebration conducted once in twelve years
to decide the King of Kerala. It was Maha Makha Angam,
which later came to be known Mamangam. History
says that Mamangam was celebrated on the sandy banks
of Nila. The Thaliyadiris, the early rulers of
Kerala and the Perumakkars had conducted this celebration.
It is also believed that Mamangam was the positioning
of Perumakkars who were brought from foreign countries
for a period of twelve years. All these were as commanded
by Lord Parasurama. The famous among the Mamangam
is the one that was celebrated at Thirunavaya (in Malappuram
District) in the banks of banks of Bharathapuzha.
Among this, the Mamangam conducted by Valluvakkonathiri
from 825 AD onwards and the one celebrated by Kozhikode Zamorin
from the end of 13th century assumed great importance.
Valluvakkonathiri got this right from Bhaskara Ravi Varma,
the last among the Perumakkal. Zamorin of Kozhikode killed Valluvakkonathiri
by the end of 13th century and usurped the right
of conducting Mamangam. The last Mamangam
was celebrated in 1743. Some are of the opinion that it
was in 1753 and other say that it was in 1755. However, it is
quite clear that the Mamangam came to an end with the
conquest of Kozhikode by Hyder Ali in 1776.
celebrations start from Pooyam asterism day
of the month of Makaram and last for 30 days. The celebrations
of the first 12 dayswere most significant.
is believed that once in 12 years when Karkkidaka Vyazham
comes in the month of Kumbha, the river Ganges flow down
through Thirunavaya. Then using the holy water of Ganges,
‘Abhishekam’ was done to Keraladesham. This
function was known as Mamangam.
Scholars differ on the origin of Mamangam celebration.
They are summarised below
Mahamela was conducted once in 12 years on the banks where
the rivers meet. One of them was celebrated at Thirunavaya
based on its turn. It was on the Mahamakath day
of the month of
to Moses, the Jew historian, it is the foundation festival of
the Ashoka Pillar installed in BC 360 at Kodungallur.
According to Barbosa, a foreign traveler, the reign of Keralaraja
(Kerala Emperor) was for 12 years. After the tenure, they
would call the public meeting and commit suicide in front of
them and this function is called Mamangam.
The birthday festival of Sree Budha was later converted as Mamangam.
One is at a loss to decide which is the correct version on Mamangam.
Whatever be the opinions, it is sure and certain that this was
a festival conducted to decide and preserve the supremacy of
Kerala Emperor. It was a political festival of ancient
Kerala celebrated with all it goodness and fame.
Marumakkathayam (Matrililineal System)
Marumakkathaayam is the matrilineal system of inheritance
The social set up of Nairs is matrilineal or ‘marumakkathayam’
system that is different from the rest of Kerala. It is exceptional
in the sense that it was one of the few traditional systems
that gave women liberty, and right to property. Under this system,
women enjoyed respect, prestige and power. Though the inheritance
and descent through female line was in force in some parts of
India, it was the Nairs of Kerala who maintained the system
in its letter and spirit.In the Marumakkathyam system,
the family lived together in a tharavadu, which comprised
of a mother, her brothers and younger sisters, and her children.
The oldest brother was known as the Karanavar and was
the head of the household and he managed the family estate.
Lineage was traced through the mother, and the children "belonged"
to the mother's family. All family property was jointly owned.
In the event of a partition, the shares of the children were
clubbed with that of the mother.
Some historians believe that the Marumakkathaayam system
started after the Chera-Chola wars during the second Chera Empire,
as Nairs lost most of their men during the war. The popularity
of ‘Sambandha’ marriage paved the way for matrilineal
inheritance system. This system became popular among the
Nairs and Kshathriyas first. In the Sambandha marriage,
the sons of a family used to reside in the mothers family.
At the same time the husband’s sister and her sons used to reside
within the family. The sons could not reach in time to
perform funeral rites of the father as they are living far away.
Then the nephew performs the funeral rites. It was an
old custom that the right of property shall go to those who
perform the funeral rites. When nephew performs the funeral
rites, he became the owner of the land held by his uncle.
Slowly the sons were expelled from the funeral rites as well
as from the right over the property.
The excessive influence of Karanavan’s wife in family
affairs very often resulted in family feuds. The youngsters
of the family disliked the dominance of the Karanavans.
This has resulted in the disruption of family relations.
Progressive minded among them criticized this dominance.
The Travancore Nair Act of 1912 came into existence as a result
of this feud. The joint family system was reshaped and
the right of ownership on family property was restored to all
through the law. Half of the property of father will go
to his children and half to his nephews, according to this law.
By the Second Nair Act of 1925 the right of the latter on his
uncles property was completely withdrawn. The Kochi Nair
Regulation of 1921 laid down conditions for sharing of properties
and exercised control over the powers of the Karanavar.
The duty of protecting wife and children in the nair family
became the responsibility of the male member. Though the
Kochi Nair Act of 1938 the matrilineal system of inheritance
was withdrawn completely. The Malabar Marriage Act of
189 and the Madras Marumakkathaya Act of 1933 brought changes
in the joint family system of Malabar also. By 1967 the
joint family system began to disappear from Kerala. The
Kerala Joint Family System (Prohibition Act) of 1975 was passed
by the Kerala Legislature Assembly, which ultimately put an
end to the system.
In Marumakkathayam system the females and children were
safe and secure. The protection and independence enjoyed
by the nair women in the matrilineal joint family system was
lacking in other systems. She was able to live a happy
and settled life after marriage without changing her residence
to husband’s home and facing difficulties there. The future
of her children was safe in the hands of the Karanavar.
Divorce or widowhood was not a burden to her. She had
the full right to abandon a husband whom she disliked.
Sri. Krishna Chaithanya observes, “Anthropologists, especially
foreigners, still keep a lost memory of the matrilineal inheritance
system of Kerala. Though it was a basic economic system
of the past, the Nair community still believe that they have
some responsibility and should do justice to the children of
their sisters as like their own children.”
The Vasanthotsava (festival of flowers) of the ladies
of North Kerala is known as Meenapooram. It has
a resemblance with the Thiruvathira of South Kerala.
Both are ladies’ festivals. It is related to the story
of Kamadeva and performed for the prosperity and progress of
husbands. Pooram was celebrated for nine days from
Karthika to Pooram asterismday in the month of
Moodappaseva is an offering in Madhur Siddhi
Vinayaka Temple of Kasargode. The chief deity of the temple
is Lord Siva. Lord Ganapathy is positioned outside the shrine
in the northeast direction. The offering is made to Lord
Ganapathy. The idol of Ganapathy will be covered with
sugarcanes. After that Appams (sweet rice cakes)
will be placed inside the circle up to the neck of idol. Later,
the Appams will be distributed to the devotees.
This is known as Moodappaseva, which is performed to
fulfill the desired goals.
Mothiram Maral (ring exchange)
practice of exchanging the finger rings by the bridegroom
and bride at the time of marriage. Sometimes, this
is done before marriage also.
Muttarukkal is a famous offering in Kadampuzha Bhagavathy
Temple in Malappuram District. A priest will break a coconut
in the stone placed in the inner shrine with prayers. The objective
of the offering is to get protection from the enemies.