Kannur: Arakkal Beevi Sultana Fathima Muthu Beevi, 86, the titular ruler of the sole Muslim royal family in Kerala, passed away today at Thalassery in Kerala's Kannur district. She died at her residence at Chettankunnu following illnesses owing to advanced age.
Muthu Beevi's funeral has been scheduled for today itself. She had nominally ascended the erstwhile throne on July 1, 2018 after the death of her sister Arakkal Beevi Sainaba Beevi, 93, last year.
Muthu Beevi is the 38th in the line of Arakkal rulers.
The funeral of the erstwhile Arakkal royals are held at the burial ground of the Odathil mosque at Thalassery.
The Arakkal dynasty
History has it that one of two unmarried thampurattis (princesses) of the Chirakkal royal family was suddenly caught in the waters as they were having a bath in the river and a Muslim youth saved her on hearing her cry and provided her with his own clothes.
The Kolathiri king honoured the youth who saved his niece with gifts and a job. But the thampuratti declared that she has got ex-communicated. She said her marriage had taken place when the youth held her hand and lifted her out of the river, and that the ritual of giving a 'pudava' or wedding dress was also over when he gifted her his clothes. She argued that she had virtually got married to a man from another community and hence stood ex-communicated.
The Kolathiri then married her off to the Muslim youth, and provided them with a palace and plenty of wealth. That is the Arakkal palace. The thampuratti came to be known as Arakkal Beevi. Her husband Ali Raja Ali is the first Muslim king of Kerala.
Gender was no factor in the transfer of power in the palace right from the beginning. Power is handed over to the eldest in the dynasty, man or woman. The man ascending the throne is called Ali Raja and the woman Arakkal Beevi.
The Arakkal kingdom became wealthy through sea trade. They held control over territory including Minicoy and Lakshadweep, and developed disputes with the British over the islands. Later the islands were left to the British and the colonial power in return honoured the Arakkal dynasty with the title of Sultan. An annual pension called Malikhan was also provided. The government still continues it.