Parassinikadavu Muthappan: Kannur's elegant deity

Parassinikadavu Muthappan, perhaps the most egalitarian God who exists among the mortal beings, resides in the red soil of North Malabar, of Kannur. The abode of Muthappan, located at Parassinikadavu in Kannur district draws not just the devotees, but travelers and researchers alike.

No wonder, the political heritage of Kannur gets amply reflected in the deity of Parassinikadavu Muthappan. Because, Muthappan is a god who is unaffected by all those barriers posed by caste or community or gender or age or whatever. He welcomes each and everyone with widely open arms.

This god, who answers the pleas of the devotees, will talk to those who reach his Madappura (holy shrine), bless them personally, will provide them with tea, lunch and dinner, and offer red beans, dried fish, and coconut pieces as prasadam. This time, our journey to the land of Muthappan had another dimension. It was a journey into the heard land of north Malabar, which still flaunts its ponds and holy groves.

Though the premises of the Madappura abound in hotels, we chose to stay at the KTDC's Tamarind Easy Hotel, located at a quieter locality. The hotel is just four and a half kilometers away from the temple, along the route from the temple to the Mangattuparambu campus of Kannur University.

Located amidst verdant surroundings, the hotel flaunts the grace of an age-old house, a tharavad. A huge banyan tree towere over the left side of the vast compound. Beneath its shadow thrive numerous small plants. The trunk of the banyan is made invisible with the thick coverage of small shrubs. There is an inviting bench underneath the tree. Kannur has the shades of green as well, not just the red of the theyyam.

The KTDC Tamarind Easy Hotel has a design resembling that of an age old ancestral home (tharavad). The huge verandahs and the prevailing calmness will lure any traveller. Along with the architecture splendor evoking an old world charm, the hotel offers the most modern amenities to the guests. The rooms are spacious, with light flowing in. The A/C Delux room has the facilities including TV, hot water supply, locker, cupboards and a clean toilet. There are ten such A/C Delux rooms. You can get 24 hour room service and check in – check out facilities. Balakrishnan, Manager, KTDC Tamarind, hinted that on reaching the temple at early morning would help to offer prayers at all important puja-s. And thus the plans were suddenly changed.

History and legends lie intertwined in this shrine. According to the age old beliefs, you can enter the shrine only after washing your feet in the water of Valapattanam river. Dogs roam around undisturbed around the shrine. They are never driven away, as dogs are supposed to be the vehicle of Muthappan. They are allowed to enter anywhere in the temple. And when the prasada, the offering, made for the deity is prepared, dogs are served first.

There are such umpteen reasons for someone to like this god. We watched the arrival of Muthappan Theyyam and the god head delivering the divine blessings to the devotees. The theyyam, performed by some artiste, talks to the devotees, listens to their plight and comforts them. Meeting a god who interacts directly with the devotee is such a different experience than looking at a sanctum sanctorum amidst the rush, and offer prayers with closed hands. A concept full of light and love.

After offering prayers before Muthappan and partaking his prasadam (offerings), you can visit the Snake park at Parassinikadavu. Established in 1982, this Snake Park was recently in the news for hatching the egg of a King Cobra, a rarest of the rare happening. The effort is led by the veterinary team at the Snake Park. An artificial forest atmosphere is created in the Park, helping the snakes to mate and lay eggs. After that, the perfect atmosphere for hatching those eggs is also created. Each stage of this project has been documented in detail.

The Park has an excellent team of guides who will introduce you to the snakes and impart valuable information about them. Besides snakes, this centre also boasts of a wide variety of wild animals, like monkeys, owls, peafowl, monitor lizards and crocodiles. Many children visit the Park to gain more information about the animals. The walls of the cafe in the Park display some rare photographs that tell of different eras in the history of the Park.

After a tiring day, come back to your hotel. The KTDC Tamarind Easy Hotel is famous for its delectable fare. The vegetables for cooking are obtained from their own garden kept by the hotel. After the lunch break, you may set out for Vellikkeel.

This tourist spot, located around five kilometres from the hotel, is a haven of rare migratory birds and water birds. The mangrove attracts a large number of visitors both for fishing and just for enjoying the beauty of the nature. Of late, it has also become a favourite location for wedding album photo shoot!

A solitary path winds through the mangroves. Trekking through the narrow path that skirts water is a bit adventurous.

The kavu spread across nineteen acres of wild growth is impenetrable even for the sunlight. A small wall carrying the name of 'Neeliyar Kottam,' encloses the shrine. A small path winds through the thick foliage. You'd feel hesitant to put your foot alone in that path. But no need to worry. That wall hides another world. It is the shrine of Kottathamma, the deity who rules over the night. Just a few steps from the tar road and a magnificent world of natural beauty will open up before your eyes.

Neeliyar Bhagavathi or Kottathamma is the theyyam who abides in the Neeliyar Kottam. The theyyam of this goddess wears a crown of twenty feet height. This shrine has year round theyyam performance. The theyyam of the Bhagavathi will be performed at the dusk. We had reached at the right time. The theyyam was just putting on the head gear after finishing the facial make up. The head gear can be worn only with the help of two assistants. The sound of a single chenda reverberated in the forest stillness. The bhagavathi will run out amidst the green foliage, wearing the head gear. The theyyam will address the devotees at the laterite stone platform. The ambience is magical.

The legend speaks of Neeli, a laborer woman whose father was forced to kill her following allegations against her character raised by the local chieftains. That was only one of the stories. According to another myth, Neeli, also belonging to a lower caste, had met with an unnatural death. She was a scholar, well-versed in various branches of knowledge. Whatever be the story, the theyyam creates a magical ambience at the eventide.

However, the visitors are not allowed to click photographs of the theyyam. You can only offer prayers to her and seek her blessings.

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