September 11, 2015

Behind the Name

The name Manikkadavu (മണിക്കടവ് ) is also spell “Manikkadave” or “Manikadavu”. The myth about the name is related to the story of a “durmurthi” (evil spirit or demon) called “Manikkadachokkaali (also known as Manikkadachokkari) most feared by the aborigines, the Karimpalas.

It is traditionally believed that Manikkadavu and Manippara– the two neighboring villages – got their old names Manikkada and Manipparambu respectively from ‘Manikkadachokkali’ and ‘Mani Bhagavathi or Goddess Mani. Later the settlers from Travancore modified the names to the present day form.

Before the advent of settlers from Travancore, the only inhabitants of the land were Karimpalas and the place a part of a dense private forest owned by an aristocratic ‘Janmi’ (Landlord) family.

The Karimpala tribe of those days found their livelihood through agriculture, fishing and hunting. They spared the huge trees in the jungle and cleared only the bush and creepers and sow paddy and other seasonal crops. Every year, after harvest, they shifted to new parts of the jungle.

Through the dense forest they used to go every day in groups for hunting and fishing and anyone missed from the group was sure to be missed for ever and was supposed to be eaten by Manikkadachokkaali the ‘durmurthi’.

Perhaps the poor tribal might have been killed by some wild animal, but it boosted the scare of the evil spirit always. The Karimpalas believe that there existed a temple of Lord Siva at ‘Manipparathattu’, near Manikkadavu. But, hurt by the ‘durmurthi’ and quite scared of it, the priests and other officials deserted the temple and even their homes.

One day ‘Manippothi’/ Mani Bhagavathi (a goddess of the jungle called Mani) appeared at Manipparathattu to save the jungle people from the durmurthi.

The goddess chased Manikkadachokkaali until at last it entered a cave at Manikkadavu near the present day Manikkadavu- Kanjirakolly road. The goddess gave the durmurthi strict orders never to cross the face of cave or hurt people any more.

To immortalize the memory of her appearance, it is believed; the goddess erected at Manippara two chambers carved out of laterite one of which exists even today withstanding the challenges of the seasons all through. It is now known as ‘kallara’ (‘kallu’= stone, ‘ara’ = small room/ chamber).

From the day of its appearance, there began ‘theyam’- a ritual to please the goddess. There was also a “kavu” (a sacred forest) where ‘pattutsavam’ (‘pattu’= song, utsavam= festival) was held for ten days annually to appease ‘kattu pothi (goddess of jungle- another name for Goddess Mani) whose real name, the Karimpala elders say, is ‘Chuzhali Bhagavathi’.

Theyyam - Makeup
Theyyam – Makeup

Now there is only a single huge and tall tree in place of the former sacred forest to remind us of the ancient festivities. About five hundred meters away from the ‘kavu’, there is a cave on the right side and, during monsoon, a wondrous spring of water on the left. If we walk through the cave for about twenty five meters from its opening or entrance, we see the beginning of an underground stream.

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