September 13, 2015

Recent History

The present Aattukaran inherited the title from his father. Every night he kindles the light calling God: ‘Iswari Mathave’ (Goddess Mother). The first Aattukaran got the title from the Nayanar family of ‘Karaykkattu Idam’ (the family of the land lords) along with a sword, red silk and gold bangles symbolizing the priestly position

In ancient days the Karimpalas had no deities other than ‘Sri Muthappan’ and ‘Goddess Mani’. On special occasions they offered chicken to the Aattukaran, especially when kalasam was conducted.

In the olden days, the Karimpalas had their own way of celebrating their mangalam (marriage). The friends and relatives of the groom assemble first at his residence.

Then beatingthudi and singing their traditional songs, they all go to all go to the residence of the bride’s uncle. There they would stay for a day. Most often the number of the team exceeds 100. Up to dawn they would all feast, beat their ‘thudi’ and sing ‘mangalam paattu’, their traditional songs meant for marriage celebration.

Dowry system was quite unknown to them. Marriage among them was really an agreement between two families. If a boy and a girl fall in love with each other, his parents and ‘karanavars’ (uncles) would visit the girl’s uncle and offer him paddy, discuss the proposal and fix the marriage. Together they would drink toddy—the only liquor known to them—and their merrymaking often went on for a whole day.

Cucumber was the main dish of those days. ‘Thali’- the ornament worn by Hindu women as a symbol of wedlock—was not used by them before the coming of settlers from Travancore. The marriage celebrations were conducted at the ‘karanavar’s house and expenses were met by him.

The culture, and even the food habits, of Karimpalas have much changed after the large-scale migration of Christian settles from Travancore. Tapioca and many other new crops were introduced by them. The settlers bought the forest land from the janmi.

They cleared forest, began to cultivate seasonal as well as permanent crops. The vast stretch of land used until their arrival at the will and pleasure of the Karimpalas for ‘ponam krishi’ thus became the land of the settlers.

The particular way of farming – ‘ponam krishi’-, thus, came to an end and they were thereafter confined to a few acres of land at a hill called ‘Karimpalakkunnu’ (known also as Gandhi Nagar) in the outskirts of Manikkadavu and also at Chittari near River Udumba at Kanjirakolly.

The elders among them remember their first encounters with the settlers. It was from them that they got tapioca to eat and country liquor to drink for the first time. From them, for the first time, they heard the word kristhiyani (Christian), learnt about the way of a settled life and knew about cash crops.

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