There was a time when Malayalam movies of a decade or two ago mentioned a deity called Parassinikkadavu Muthappa… People not familiar with the story of the deity would wonder why the characters in the movies often call to him for help or assistance. In this article, we venture to explain how Parassinikkadavu Muthappan became so popular and sought after among millions of people in Kerala.
The offering to the Parassinikkadavu Muthappan is made in the form of burnt fish, toddy, boiled grams and coconut pieces. Muthappan is believed to possess the divine powers of both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
The Legend of Parassinikkadavu Muthappa
Muthappan was the adopted son of a feudal lord, Ayyankara Naduvazhi and Padikutty. The couple was childless, and both Ayyankara Naduvazhi and Padikutty were very unhappy. Padikutty, being a devotee of Lord Shiva, performed sacrifice as part of pooja for having a child. Several days later, she found a cherubic infant boy by the side of the river where she was having a bath. The rock where the boy was found is considered sacred and hence worshipped.
Padikutty took the boy home, and they brought him up as their own son. The young boy loved hunting with the bow and arrows, and he took his prizes to the poor in the forests and to the people who lived in the backward communities. The boy’s father, Ayyankara Naduvazhi, was not too keen on this and admonished the child. It was at this time that the boy revealed his true form to his parents – His Cosmic Form, all-pervading, and omnipotent. He revealed that his purpose on earth was to protect the rights of the poor and downtrodden.
When Muthappan ventured out of his house to perform the duties of his incarnation, he was also sad at leaving his parents. His vision burned, and everything in his path caught fire and turned to ash. His mother, Padikutty pleaded with him not to destroy all that He had created, and the obedient son pierced his own eyes so he could not burn anything more. The myth is that Muthappan is blind because of this incident.
As Muthappan walked on, he came to a place where there were a lot of palm trees – a place called Kunnathoor. There grew his fondness for toddy. Chandan was a toddy tapper and he was aware of someone stealing all his toddy. So, he sat to watch one night and caught an old man drinking his toddy. In great anger, he proceeded to shoot the old man with his bow and arrow. Chandan, however, fell unconscious before he could commit the act.
After a while, his wife came searching for him, and when she saw Chandan lying on the ground, unconscious, she called out to the old man still sitting atop the palm tree. She called him “Muthappa…”, meaning, grandfather, in the local language. She then prayed to God for her husband, and soon he was brought back to consciousness.
So, now you know why people instinctively call out to Muthappan when they are in trouble.
Muthappan stayed at Kunnathoor for some time and then moved to Parassini. He shot his arrow upwards from Kunnathoor to see where it would land. The arrow landed at Parassini, and this is where you have the famous Parassini Temple. You can still see the arrow placed at the altar. Ever since then, Muthappa is believed to be at Parassinikkadavu. The temple is built on the banks of Valapattanam river and is used for holy, sacred purposes.
The temple is open, and people from all castes and religions visit it on a daily basis. As an example of eradicating caste distinctions, there are special cases where Brahmins and Madayans perform poojas together. The main Prasad is tea and green gram, though the lord accepts toddy, wild meat and roasted fish as an offering.
Image by Sreelalpp via Wikimedia
At the temple, we can see two idols – one is the senior Muthappan or Thiruvappana or Vellattam, representing Lord Vishnu and the other represents Lord Shiva. Vishnu wears a fish-shaped crown while, Shiva wears a green crown on which lies a crescent moon. The most important ritual at the temple is Theyyam. Two theyyams are played out every morning – Thiruvappana and Vellattam. There are special theyyams during the months of Thulam and Karkidakam.
The temple, according to Parassinikkadavu Muthappan’s wishes, performs charitable programs as part of their social responsibility. They have also opened a school to provide free education and free meals to poor people. Medical services are also provided to those who cannot afford it.
The poojas are done by an elder of the Thiyya family or Madayans. The temple is also famous for its packs of dogs. Turning the dogs away is a sign of disrespect to the Lord. Offerings are also given to the dogs.
Don’t forget to visit Parassinikadavu Muthappan temple as it is one of the beautiful places to visit in Kannur. It is just 16 kilometers from the city, at Anthoor Municipality. It would be a beautiful experience.
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