Burial of Ariyan Rajamannan: A traditional king of the Mannan tribe – Kerala

Tradition and modernity go hand in hand for Kerala’s exotic Mannan tribe.


A Harikumar, Deccan Herald, Thiruvananthapuram | To read the full report, click here >>

The [Mannan] tribe, which mostly resides in the hills of Kerala’s Idukki district bordering Tamil Nadu, has effortlessly merged with the outside world but it continues to observe age-old customs and revere the concept of kingship and looks up to the king for fulfilling all spiritual needs and upkeep of tribal traditions. Its adherence to age old customs became evident to the outer world recently when its king died and tribal elders collectively decided to enthrone a new king. […]

The tribe, currently numbering around 50,000, has a rich legacy going back to several hundreds of years. They consider Goddess Meenakshi, principal deity of Madurai Meenakshi temple, as their deity. There are opinions that their services were once utilised by Pandyan kings who ruled from Madurai during 13th century.

The community once held its domain over the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border with its headquarters at Mannan Kotai, also believed to be in Idukki district, before coming to the present area. According to folklore, they later accepted suzerainty of Raja of Poonjar, in Kerala who used their help to cultivate large tracts of land
adjoining the thick forests in the Western Ghats. But legends say Poonjar king lost a war with the king of Maravas from Tamil Nadu. Following this, Poonjar king was forced to retreat to the forests and Mannans also lost their lands.

But during 18th century kingdom of Venad under Marthanda Varma become very powerful in southern Kerala and southern parts of present Tamil Nadu and during the period Varma annexed Poonjar and adjoining regions to his kingdom and the right over the Mannan community passed on to the Maharaja of Venad. Under Varma, Venad expanded and became Travancore. Travancore kings gave Mannans special titles and the right to wear bangles and carry a cane as mark of their position. When they were with Travancore, they had the sole right over harvesting wild cardamom and other spices and hill produces, which were the key sources of income for the kingdom.

Mannan tribe is a peace loving community which has joined the mainstream, Kerala revenue officials told Deccan Herald. Now, the tribe has lost its special rights over cardamom and spices and is generally dependent on collecting forest produce for their livelihood. Some of them have taken to other jobs and agriculture. […]

As per the state government’s policy of allowing the tribe to preserve its customs, the position of king is accepted on certain matters, said revenue officials. The Kerala government had built a house for the former Mannan King Ariyan at Kovilmala. The funeral of former king was held with state honours.

The King gets a certain amount of respect in public society as the leader of the tribe. He is often invited to public functions and has certain powers in the tribe also, said locals.

According to locals, the king settles disputes among members of the tribe and still his words command respect. He has power to ostracise members of the community who fail to obey the orders. The king is assisted by nine ministers who help him to arrive at decisions and implement it. But government officials say the community members go by laws of the land in all criminal and civil disputes. […]

Source: No kingdom, but kingship continues after 60 years of democracy
Address: https://www.deccanherald.com/content/217472/content/219427/F
Date Visited: Mon Dec 05 2016 19:58:46 GMT+0100 (CET)

Ariyan Rajamannan, 29, the traditional king of the Mannan tribe representing 42 kudies (settlements) in the district died of a heart attack early on Wednesday, ending his four years’ career as the ruling king over the kudies who wielded high powers.

His body will be buried in the traditional manner after a full night `kuthu’ (traditional dance) and rendering of traditional prayers on Thursday afternoon. Before the burial, a new king will be selected in a meeting by all the Kanis (tribal chieftains in each kudies). Elaya Raja, Chakkan Balan, who is also a ward member in the Kanchiyar grama panchayat, said that the tribe usually follow the matriarchal system in selecting the new King. […]

Kovilmala is the traditional headquarters of the tribe and the King is traditionally selected for his life span. There are also ministers to assist the King in taking decisions and in the case of major decisions all the Kanies from the kudies are convened to Kovilmala. The tribe, believed to have migrated to Idukki forest during the time of Chera-Chola war from the present Tamil Nadu. The tribe has not much deviated from the traditional customs, though their life style has changed with the passage of time. The main kudies are spread over in Kumily, Adimaly, Maniyarankudy, Vathikudy, Anjuruli and Kattappana. […]

Ariyan Rajamannan was the youngest King and he was ‘throned’, after the death of Thevan Rajamannan. […]

It is believed that the Mannans are the only other tribe after the one in Tripura following the traditional year-old custom of selecting the king who rules over the entire kudies.

Source: Tribal king dies of heart attack (The Hindu, 28 December 2011)
Address : https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/article2754668.ece
Date Visited: Wed Mar 07 2012 18:23:48 GMT+0100 (CET)

The body of Ariyan Rajamannan, the traditional king of the Mannan tribe who died on Wednesday morning, was buried with state honours at Rajapuram in Kovilmala, the headquarters of the tribe near here on Thursday. […]

Source: The Hindu : States / Kerala : Tribal king buried with State honours
Address : https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/article2758172.ece
Date Visited: Wed Mar 07 2012 18:25:53 GMT+0100 (CET)

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