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Thiruvonam fasting… under a divine curse

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor


Heads of three Brahmin households observe a tradition of fasting on Thiruvonam as penance for a ‘sin.’




UPHOLDING A TRADITION: (From left) Parameswaran Namboodiri, Kunjunni Moosad and Subrahmaniyan Moosad.

PATHANAMTHITTA: The heads of three Brahmin households in Aranmula and nearby Nedumprayar follow a tradition of fasting on Thiruvonam as atonement for a ‘sin.’ The tradition reportedly dates back to more than two centuries.

Kunjunni Moosad of Aranmula Puthezhathu Illom; Parameswaran Namboodiri of Cherukara Illom at Nedumprayar and Subrahmaniyan Moosad of Aranmula Thekkedathu Illom have been observing the tradition for the past three decades.

These Brahmin households were said to be the owners (‘ooralars’) of the Sree Parthasarathy Temple on the banks of the Pampa at Aranmula. They owned vast tracts of land that spread across many surrounding villages. The myth is that a poor, low caste woman approached the landlords of Aranmula, seeking alms, during a harvest period when the paddy was being measured. She waited for a long while, but the landlords ignored her. The woman starved through the day and was found dead in the field the next morning. Thereafter, misfortunes befell Aranmula and the landlords. An astrological consultation revealed that a divine curse was put on the landlords. It suggested that the eldest member of the Brahmin households should not consume food or water on Thiruvonam. A feast should be given to the public every year for expiation of the sin.

The 97-year old Kunjunni Moosad, who is now staying with his daughter in Thiruvananthapuram, reaches Aranmula on the eve of Thiruvonam to observe fasting for the past three decades. The 74-year old Subrahmaniyan Moosad who stays close to the temple has been observing fast on Thiruvonam for the past 17 years. Parameswaran Namboodiri, 72, has been following the tradition for the past two decades.

They end the fast by taking a plantain and tender coconut milk offered to the presiding deity after the Athazhapuja at the Parthasarathy Temple in the evening.

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