Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pakkanar and the Legend behind Ivy Gourd



Packanar is another legendry son of Vararuchi of the famous Parayi Peta Panthirukulam. He has been brought up in a Paraya family, which is coming in the lower strata of the racial hierarchy followed on those days. The traditional profession of Parayas was to collect bamboo leaves from the forest and to make baskets and bags using that. By selling those articles they used to earn for their family.

There are many stories about Packanar which proves that he is a holy person. Once he went to his elder brother Agnihotri’s house. AS mentioned in the earlier episode, Agnihotri was a Brahmin. Both the brothers engaged in serious discussion after exchanging pleasantries. At that time Agnihotri called his wife on some pretext. Although she heard that, she did not turn up as she was busy with some household work. Then, Pacakanar kidded his brother about the obedience of his wife. Packanar further claimed that no women
other than his wife have ‘Pathivrathyam’ (respect towards husband and to be obedient). Agnihotri shot back that the women belong to lower cast will not have ‘Pathivrathyam. Packanar asked his brother to follow him to his house and experience it personally. Accepting the challenge, he accompanied Packanar. When they entered the compound, Packanar’s wife was drawing water from the well using a bucket tied to a long rope. As soon as she heard the call of Packanar, she left the bucket half the way and came near him. To the astonishment of Vararuchi, the bucket stayed back there in that position instead of falling into the well. Then Agnihotri agreed that it is because of the power of Pathivrathyam and he agreed that it is difficult to find out a woman with this much pathivrathyam.
As mentioned earlier, all the ten brothers except ‘Vayilla Kunnilappan’ and the lone sister used to assemble at the house of elder brother Agnihotri’s house to perform yearly ritual for their dead father. During that time each one will bring something which will be used in preparing the feast after the rituals. Once, Packanar brought some Teats of cows on that day. Agnihotri’s wife got shocked to see bleeding teats when she opened the packet. Being a Brahmin, non-vegetarian foods are totally banned there. She threw the teats away, but did not mention about it to anybody.
After rituals, brothers and the lone sister ‘Karaykkalamma’ sat for the lunch. Lunch has been served as usual and all the items brought by other brothers and sister have been served as delicious dishes. Packanar enquired about the item he brought as the same has not been served. Agnihotri’s wife did not tell anything in the beginning but revealed the truth after continued pressure from her husband. She also told firmly that, such things cannot be brought into a Brahmin’s house. Then Packanar asked her what she did with those teats. She replied that she threw it away. Then Packanar asked her to go and look at the place where she threw the teats. She did so and to her surprise she saw a plant grown up there with fruits on that which resembles the teats. She informed the same and Packanar asked her to get those fruits and prepare a curry and serve. Ivy gourds which resemble cow teats are believed to be formed like that.
Even now it is believed that there is no need to do yearly rituals for the people who are dead when there are Ivy gourds or cocks in the house. When Ivy gourds are there the souls of the dead will be pleased even without the rituals and when there are cocks and hens, the place will be always dirty and no ritual will give you a desired result. Ivy Gourds are an important component in the yearly rituals being done for the dead in Kerala, especially in Hindu customs.

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