ODIYAN

our valluvanad was one of the final frontiers for western civilization. A land of immense beauty inhabited by people with unique traditions and practices which could at best be categorised as animism . 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 for a much longer period. Hence till the 1970s most of this region was relatively untouched by the seeds of modernity unlike the rest of Kerala . This helped us preserve our Tharavads , pambin kavus, the tradition of velichapad at bhagavathy kavus and of course the rich mythological universe of our ancestors . One of the integral part of this mythology is the supernatural world inhabited by Odiyans and practitioners of Odiyanseva .

Odiyans were the professional assassins (yes!) hired by landowning nair/ ezhava families to kill members of rival clans without leaving any evidence that could link them to the murder . Being an agrarian society most of these rivalries were based on land disputes or succession related issues .The Odiyans hailed from the untouchable castes like the panars,pulayars or the choklears who were also the family serfs. They were well known for their physical stamina and was often feared for their patronage of powerful tribal deities . It was believed that DURMANTRAVATAM (worship of these gods) gave them powers which could be matched only by a seasoned MANTRIKAN (powerful magicians) and hence could be used against lesser mortals.

the powers

According to the folklore , the odiyan used to apply an oil obtained from killed human fetus on their ear lobes , which gave them powers to assume forms or shapes that they desired to be . In reality they never changed into the objects they intended to be, but created a sensory illusion on their prey making them more vulnerable to a mortal blow. For example the Odiyan would assume the shape of a bull or a cat or even a granite rock and stood on the route that the victim routinely uses at night .As the prey approached this unfamiliar sight on a familiar terrain he would at first be amused and would try to remove it from the path. Seeing his target getting closer the Odiyan would transform instantly into his human form , overpowering and killing the prey instantly.

The question that may pop up is , why go to such lengths to kill someone if he could be stabbed or shot at plain sight ?. The reasons according to 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 arranged 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 forms the Odiyans took were abnormal .For example the bull that appeared in front of you might be a three-legged one or a tailless one which could amuse the onlooker . This gives the odiyan enough time to mount an attack and kill the prey as it approached .

These abnormalities could also be their undoing . A seasoned mantrikan or a Tharavad elder could easily recognize these anomalies 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 . Realizing the trap , he pronounced some spells to counter the odi vidya and to overpower the odiyan’s charm . Then he 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 which was eventually granted.

the oil

The illusionary power of odiyan comes from the oil they apply on their earlobes . It is said to have been derived from the amniotic fluid of an unborn human fetus which was killed in the womb. Their targets were young women in their first pregnancy. During the day time while at work as the serf they would identify their victim and mark her off with a sign which was 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 he would be waiting . The woman’s womb would be surgically opened with sharpened knifes made of bamboo and the fetus taken out . The fetus is then hung from a bamboo pole to harvest the fluid while the woman walked back home to her room where she would eventually bleed to death.The amount of oil obtained from one child would be too little ,may be 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 . The 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 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 ?

Even today Valluvanad believes in Odiyans and their magical powers with many mysterious deaths still being attributed to odiyan seva ( latest case being reported last month) . But , With the advent of modern education and westernised lifestyles coupled with the social emancipation of panars and pulayars there are no takers for the job these days. More over their patrons found new ways to settle disputes thanks to the robust judicial system , forcing the odiyan seva to die out over a period of few decades without revealing many of their secrets like many other Indian traditions.

If you are interested in knowing more about the institution of velichapad press on the link below

https://valluvanadtimes.com/2017/12/03/velichappad/

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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.

 

 

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