Muthappan devotees gather for festivities

Muthappan devotees gather for festivities
Photo: Anjana Menon
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A festival in honour of the deity Sree Muthappan was held at the weekend at Kadavanthra, Kochi. The celebrations named Sree Muthappan Vellattam-Thiruvappana Maholstavam was organised by the Sree Muthappan Seva Samiti, Vidyanagar, on January 5 and 6 and this year's has been the 15th since its commencement here. Many Muthappan devotees arrived from various part of the city to seek the blessings of the favourite deity.

Sree Muthappan is a Thiyya kuladaivam (family or clan deity) commonly worshiped in Kannur, Kasaragod and Coorg. Muthappan does not discriminate people on the basis of caste, religion and nationality. All are permitted to enter this deity's temple and take part in the worship.

Muthappan devotees gather for festivities
Photo: Anjana Menon

Muthappan is believed to be the personification of two divine figures — Thiruvappana and Vellatom. Though Sree Muthappan is worshiped as a single deity, it actually represents an integrated or unified form of two gods: Vishnu (with a fish-shaped crown) and Shiva (with a crescent-shaped crown).

The place of worship of Muthappan devotees is called Madappura. Many Madappuras are there in North Malabar and the Parassani Madappura is the most prominent. All devotees of Muthappan feel a sense of relief as they come here. They feel blessed after the 'darshan’ of both Cheriya Muthappan and Valiya Muthappan when they conduct Thirivappana Vellattom in the morning. Muthappan Vellattam is now being conducted even abroad for the benefit of devotees there.

Muthappan devotees gather for festivities
Photo: Anjana Menon

The modes of worship of Muthappan is unique as it has not adapted to the typical ritualistic patterns of the Brahmanical Hinduism. Offerings to Muthappan include toddy and fish and his offerings (prasadams) are boiled gram and coconut pieces.

Sri Muthappan's Theyyams are performed year-round, whereas other Theyyams are seasonal. (Theyyam, which is widely performed in North Kerala, is regarded as a subtler mode of worship than idolatry. It stands out for ritual pageantry and is acclaimed worldwide for its performative, ritualistic, cultic and religious aspects. It takes varied forms with different visual and lyrical aspects.)

The ritual performers of Muthappan Theyyam belong to the Vannan community of Kerala. The puja rituals and rites for Muthappan are performed by the Thiyya community. Muthappan theyyam, the ritual enactment in hounour of this deity, is performed daily at the Parassinikadavu temple.

In Kochi, the traditional ritualistic practices were adhered to for the organisation of Muthappan Vellattam. Even for the makeup only natural materials were used. The overwhelming presence of devotees from all age groups showed how even centuries later the faith of Muthappan is still strong in the minds of the people. 

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