A Thrissur 'mana' where snakes are revered

Pambumekkattu Mana
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Kerala has many manas (Namboodiri homestead) that are teeming with enthralling folklores and legends and one such popular mana is the Pambumekkattu Mana in Thrissur district. This mana, situated in Vadama village, which is 11 km from Chalakkudy, has a strong bond with snakes, and that linkage is reflected in homestead's appellation Pambumekkattu, in which 'pambu' means snake. And one should delve deep into this connection to get a clear picture of the mana's importance.

Pambumekkatu Mana is a sought-after place in Kerala known for snake worship. Many devotees flock to this sacred mana to propitiate snake gods in a bid to ward off evil spirits. The homestead was known as Mekkattu Mana but after snakes were revered it became Pambumekkattu Mana. This mana finds mention in Aithihyamala, a collection of ancient legends of Kerala, compiled by Kottarathil Sankunni. Though the mana has links with snakes, it is not clear when snake worship started at this sacred place.

The tale relating to Pambumekkattu Mana as told in Aithihyamala goes like this. Crestfallen by abject poverty, the eldest member of the Namboodiri family decided to offer prayers and meditate at the Thiruvanchikulam temple. After many days of prayers and offerings, serpent king Vasuki appeared before him and gave a manikyakallu (stone) after which the Namboodiri family members became prosperous.

The deities of this place of worship are Vasuki and Nagayakshi and it is believed that the homestead is still in possession of the manikyakallu presented by the serpent king.

Sacred groves

There are five sacred groves (kavu) around the mana and the thekke kavu (one on the southern side) is the most prominent. The deities of sacred groves in different places that are brought to the mana are consecrated at the thekke kavu. As fire is not allowed to be lit anywhere in the mana except the kitchen, if any snake or resident of the mana dies, a pyre is prepared at the thekke kavu.

Nagercoil and Pambumekkattu Mana

Pambumekkattu Mana has the right of tantrihood at the famous Nagaraja Temple in Nagercoil. Moreover, there is a close connection between Pambumekkattu Mana and Nagercoil. When a baby boy is born at the mana, he is taken to the Nagaraja Temple to offer prayers even before the 'Upanayanam' (sacred thread ceremony) is held.

Earlier, only people belonging to the upper caste were allowed entry into the mana and others can come for worship only on special days. But now things have changed for the better and everyone is welcome. The devotees can enter the mana on the first day of all Malayalam months except the months of Midhunam, Karkidakam, and Chingam. The pilgrims can also visit the mana on the last day of Karkidakam month.

People can offer prayers at all the sacred groves from 9 am to 5 pm on the 10th day of Medam month. The place of worship is run by a trust that has mana residents as its members.

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