The Zamorin and the Betel Leaf ceremony

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 Taking charge at Kallayi…

It has been said that in the distant past, a new Zamorin taking charge of his kingdom would make a ceremonial procession from one of his residential kovilakoms (usually at Ponnani) to Calicut, stooping at Kallayi. At Kallayi, he would receive a betel nut wrapped in a betel leaf from a Moplah woman or a Moplah boy dressed as a woman, as part of an elaborate reception ceremony. Many writers who alluded to this as well as the ceremonial presence of Moplah chiefs at the Mamankam in Tirunavaya, cited these as an example of the religious harmony which existed in Calicut at that time.

Pulappedi, Mannappedi or Parappedi

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 A sanctioned ritual, a social evil, or disciplining?

I still remember that in our younger days, women going to temples or neighboring houses in the village always took along – or were told by the elders of the house, to take one of the youngsters, strong, or weak, as ‘Thuna’ (accompanying protector). To a certain extent, I now feel that it was perhaps to assuage the fear of getting abducted.  It was indeed a strange custom of unknown origins and though initially observed and documented by the renowned Portuguese scribe Barbosa and later, the revered Muslim Cleric Zainuddin Makhdoom, it has only been studied sparingly by two or three academics and a few enthusiasts. The academics do not quite agree with each other and offer widely differing theories to its origins.

Power brokers and Saints – The case of Sayyid Fadl – The Mambram Pookoya Thangal

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Malabar & Istanbul – Late 19th Century

Two things made me pick up this topic for study. One - the fact that Sayyid Fadl spent his last years in Istanbul, a city I love, and two -the remark made by his recent biographer WC Jacob. Jacob was kind in mentioning a couple of my earlier articles on the Cherman Perumal in his book and remarked - That the myth is still relevant today, even in far-flung exotic locales such as North Carolina, is evinced in online blogs and amateur history sites. The blogger going by the name Maddy who is an electrical engineer in North Carolina maintains the blog Historic Alleys: Historic Musings from a Malabar Perspective. Well, Jacob, I doubt if anybody in N Carolina is interested in the Perumal, or Malabar, it just so happens that this Malabar history enthusiast who has written scores of articles on Malabar, lives in N Carolina, just like you are a resident in California. But your studies on Sayyid Fadl are top-notch, and I had the pleasure of reading all of them.

Kodaikanal – Amidst the Palani Hills

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The princess among hill stations and the many stories it hides.

I will always remember the hill station and the few times I have visited the place. At that time, I did not know any of these stories, and other than visiting the few important tourist spots and wandering around the lake, we just lazed it out. It was while researching the story of the so-called escape road from Kodai to Munnar that I got deeper into the history of this hill station and learned so much more, along the way. So, I will first start with the escape road and then get to the other aspects.