ODIYAN

our valluvanad was one of the final frontiers for western civilization. A land of immense beauty inhabited by people with strange traditions and practices which could at best be called Paganism . Hinduism which used to be practiced here identified itself more with the plethora of indigenous beliefs  than with the Vedas. Though Tippu Sultan’s invasion and the subsequent British rule did expose us to the world outside , we remained in our small universe happy and content.  Hence till the 1970s most of this region was untouched by modernity therefore unlike the rest of Kerala we still have Tharavads , sacred grooves called pambin kavu , velichapad and of course the rich mythology inherited from our ancestors . Odiyan and the stories associated with it is a major part of our folklore .

odiyan were the professional assassins (yes!) hired by landowning nair/ ezhava families to kill members of the families whom they thought were their rivals . Being an agrarian society most of the rivalries had to do with land disputes . The succession issues with in the families were also settled in this manner. Odiyans hailed from panar,pulayar and choklear communities (untouchable castes)  .  People belonging to these casts were well known for their physical stamina  and was feared for their worship of tribal deities which were considered more powerful than the local gods and goddesses. It was believed that DURMANTRAVATAM (Bad rituals and practices) gave them powers which could be matched only by a seasoned MANTRIKAN (powerful magicians).

the powers

As the folklore goes , the odiyans used to apply an oil obtained from killed human fetus  on their ear . This was supposed to give them powers to assume forms that they desired. They never changed into the forms or object they intended to be,  but created a sensory illusion on his prey. Odiyan would assume the shape of a bull or a cat or  even rocks and lay on the route that the victim routinely uses at night .when the victim approaches he would transform instantly and kills the prey within seconds .

The question that popped in my mind was , why go to such lengths to kill someone if he could be stabbed or shot like the assassins do these days. The reasons told by my grandmother were :

1.Most of the able bodied men at the time had kalari training from a young age hence it would have been difficult to over power them other than through a ruse.

2. The operations were covert so the people who arrange the assassin did not want themselves to get involved in the mess.

3. Odiyans were experts in disposing off their victims , leaving no trace .

The tactic used to over power the victims was the element of surprise .  The odiyans may take the form of a bull but there might be some sort of deformity to it . For example it might  appear three-legged or tailless which could amuse the onlooker and would make him go for a closer examination .  This gives the odiyan enough time to mount an attack and kill the prey as he approaches .  unfortunately these deformed bodies could be their undoing . A seasoned mantrikan or a Tharavad elder could easily recognize the anomalies the odiyan mounts on the senses and act accordingly to uncover the bluff.  There is a story about a well known mantrikan who was returning home at night when he encountered two bulls . He soon realized the trap , pronouncing some spells to counter the odiyan and overpower his charm , the mantrikan tied the two bulls together and took them to a riverine nearby and washed their ears . With the oil washed off they retook their human forms and begged the mantrikan for forgiveness.

the oil

The illusionary power of odiyan comes from the oil they apply on their ear. It was derived  from the amniotic fluid of an unborn human fetus. The targets were young women during their first pregnancy.  Odiyans like any pulaya or pana men of the time worked as serfs at large tharavads.  During the day time while at work they would identify their victim and mark her off with a sign which would be inscribed on the walls of the tharavad . At night , the pulaya or pana would return as odiyan and using his spells  make the woman walk unconsciously in her sleep to a predetermined spot where the he would be waiting for her . The woman would be split open with sharpened knifes made of bamboo and the fetus taken out . The fetus is then from a bamboo pole to harvest the fluid while the woman would walk back home to her room where she would bleed to death.The amount of oil obtained would be only a few drops but it could last  for a handful of odi tricks.

The history of Malabar is obscure before the advent of the British . The odiyan belief could have its roots in the tamilakam period of Kerala history when tribal practices played a major part in religious beliefs of the people.  Sangam literature talks about a magical force that resides in all objects – living or non living called ANANKU . During that period  panans and parayas (who were the untouchables then too)  were enthrusted with rites and rituals to appease the ananku . A person with uncontained ananku was considered powerful , making the guardians of ananku dreaded beings . The concept of odiyan taking up different forms could be attributed to the presence of ananku in all beings. Like many of the sangam traditions ananku might have metamorphised into the whole odiyan tradition over time. But unlike most of the tamil practices which became part of vedic religion it remained in the fringes , away from brahmanical strong holds hidden in the foothills of western ghats.

what happened to them

Valluvanad still believes in Odiyan and there are many deaths that are attributed to odiyan seva ( even one case was reported last month) . But in reality, With the modern education, the western lifestyle and more importantly the emancipation of panars and pulayars there are no takers for the job. More over their patrons found new ways to settle disputes and the odiyan died out without revealing many of its secrets like many other Indian traditions.

 

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VALLUVANAD DISTRICT

valluvanad was one of the early administrative divisions of the Chera kingdom.It once stretched from the Arabian sea to the attapadi hills and from nila up to melattur.The area passed through various hands including Samuthiri and Tippu sultan,intermingled with years of self-rule. Under the British most of the region came under valluvanad taluk of Madras state.Post independence and with the subsequent creation of the Malappuram district the region was split up among the Palakkad,Malappuram and Thrissur districts.

A new district of valluvanad could be carved out of these district owing to the following reasons:

1 The immense size of palakkad district.To get to palakkad one has to travel nearly 70km from the western most parts of the Pattambi taluk.

2 Malappuram district is the most populated one in the state with 4 million people residing there.

3 cultural similarity of Ottapalam,Pattambi,Perinthalmanna and Mannarkkad taluks and their differences with the rest of palakkad district.

4 The old ottapalam taluk in itself had a population higher than wayanad district,and the interesting fact is that nearly 40% of palakkad district resides there . But this region is far away from the district hq and most of the people depend on Thrissur , which is nearer.

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The proposed district of valluvanad should consist of  – ottapalam,perinthalmanna and mannarkkad taluks, together with parts of Thalapally taluk of Thrissur and parts of Ponnani taluk. The proposed district would have a population of over 20 lakhs and will be financially viable as the region has many important towns like

ottapalam(pop 50,000)

shornur(pop 45,000)

perinthalmana(44,000)

mannarkad(pop 44,000)

cherpulassery(pop 30,000)

pattambi(pop 24,000)

Which are all muncipalities

The district headquarters could be either at Perinthalmanna or Ottapalam .Though Ottapalam has better infrastructure including a kendriya vidyalaya ,central government institutions and a railway station Perinthalmanna eclipses it by its sheer size.

The mannarkkad taluk must be partitioned so that attapady region remains with the palakkad district and the subsequent creation of an attapadi taluk, could bring development to the tribal region.The border regions of Thalapally taluk like Thiruvilluwamala and Cheruthuruthy  due to their cultural affliction to the adjacent areas of Valluvanad.

The bifurcation of Malappuram and Palakkad districts is the only way forward as malappuram’s population explodes and palakkad remains far away from its more populous areas.

NATIONAL LANGUAGE

the topic of national language have always been a raging topic especially here in south for the past century or so.the imposition of an alien language or a culture is always detested by those on whom it is imposed . the world outside the hindi heart land is no exception. hindi which is our national language is spoken by 40% of the population,which again is of different dialects and sub languages.hindi in its present form is one of the youngest languages and in literary content one of the least developed,but many of the regional languages like Tamil or Bengali is rich both historically and in language.even the youngest of the regional languages – Malayalam had evolved into its standard form centuries before Devanagari was adopted for Urdu. the imposition of such a language over these well established ones was one of the greatest mistakes done by the post independent india.hindi after splitting from Urdu started to adopt words from Sanskrit so that it can mask its persianness .but the hindi used in daily life was more or less same as Urdu which is alien to most parts of the country.

english on the other hand is the language of the world.every one needs to study that to succeed in life,its like the modern persian. but the adoption of english as the national language will affect india’s future position as a global power. our use of english as a medium can only make us inferior to the Anglo saxon power block. their  attitude towards india is more evident in the british media and legalization of english can only legitimize their colonial mentality.

in this scenario i would like to propose the use of Sanskrit as the link language between the indian populace .it is the bed rock of all languages including the three of the four southern languages.moreover every one need to learn a second language and there will be a level playing field for all.even tamil have 20-30% of its words from Sanskrit.the use of an indigenous language can act as an advantage when india develops and can act as its soft power as english is doing for america.the use of sanskrit can decrease the fear of extinction or inferiority that may languages face as they can flourish in their own ways.

the religious tone of Sanskrit is the main disadvantage of the language. this can be overcome by developing the language in the secular front , new secular literature can be written in Sanskrit or many of the best secular literature of other languages could be translated to it. this can give an added advantage as people in different parts of the country can get to know about each other. think about this – parts of thirukural being studied in a school in Punjab  or geetanjali taught in Kerala, that too  in Sanskrit.

there will be oppositions to my view but adoption of english can only make us colonial puppets and that of hindi will be a crime done to other  languages which have a huge literary history.

TIMES NOW-LETS MAKE IT RESPONSIBLE

TIMES NOW represents what is wrong with the urban middle class India today-the new post liberalization world where morality and integrity have been sacrificed for wealth and power.

times now started late but soon came to the fore front by a simple trick ‘sensationalism’.the channel is known to see everything with suspicion.even the minutest detail how irrelevant is scrutinized and made into a big issue of mammoth proportion.the anti Pakistan rhetoric  that is visible all the time is the major example for its sensational nature.though mumbai attacks were tragic, a war with Pakistan would have been many times a disaster.all the anti china war cry so often heard in it was actually responsible for creating anxiety among Indians in the past few months.

so today on 3rd dec 2009 lets start ‘CLEAN UP TIMES NOW’ (CTN)movement.this is not a movement against times now but against the modern indian mindset.lets all take an effort to bring back the indianness that we have lost.