Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Every “ithihya” represents a culture that was followed by the old civilization. When people started changing cultural practices, he started to face the music. Ancestral practices and cultures maintained a balanced in the ecosystem and they formed harmony with nature. When it was altered, an imbalance was created within the system.Theyyam has a lot to relate to these cultural practices. We can find the shreds of evidence while analyzing “thottam paatu” which is a kind of folk hymn sung before the performance of theyyam. Thottam paatu is the life story of that particular theyyam.
Among different thottam paatu, the one that stands out is the hymn song of “Kathivanoor Veeran” or “Mangaat Mandappan”. Mangaat mandappan’s thottam paat compromises of hardships and difficulties faced by the ferocious warrior who ended up being God.
Mandappan was born in a village named “Mangad” near Thaliparamba. He was the only heir to Melthali illath Kumarachan and Parakke Illath Chakkiyamma. Even after years of marriage, these couples did not have children. They worshipped their ancestral deity “Chuzhali Bhagavathi” for a child and they believe that Mandappan was the blessing from their deity. They took good care of him and raised him with love and affection. As their only son, they did everything to make him happy. One of the ancient “grantha” describes Mandappan as “gandharava” who was born to earth for a noble cause. Mandappan was born into a Hindu “thiya” caste family. Mandappan was believed to be the son of Kaali who took human form, describes the hymn.
Since he was born on the day of “makam” (a star), he was named Mandappan. In the earlier stage of teenage, Mandappan excelled in using weapons and was bright in his studies. His main hobby was playing with war weapons with his friends. Days passed and Mandappan entered his youth. One afternoon when Mandappan went home to have lunch, Kumarachan advised him to find some work and earn for the family. But he was not ready to take up a job as he was fully concentrated on his weapon training and liked hanging out with friends. Mandappan’s reply annoyed Kumarachan and he was banned from having food from home. Mandappan came to know about this the next day from his mother when he sat on the floor to have his morning breakfast. Seeing her son waiting for food, Chakkiyamma served food and he started having it. When his father witnessed this scene, anger rushed through his veins and he broke one of Mandappan’s archery weapons.
As a person who always keeps weapons close to his heart, this made him feel heart-broken. He loved them more than himself. After this incident, Mandappan left his home forever. He approached his friends for help. His friends were leaving to “Koorg” for business purposes and they agreed to take him with them. But there were differences of opinion between the friends about taking Mandappan with them and finally, they decided to betray him. On their way, they boozed Mandappan and left him behind. When he became conscious he understood that his friends betrayed him. With the adamant decision that he would not return back home, he headed to “Kathivanoor” to his uncle. From there, he started a new life. With the share of property he got from his uncle, Mandappan began farming. He turned rock lands into fertile soil where crops and grains were harvested abundantly.
Meanwhile, “Mutharmudi Kudakar” was jealous of his achievements. He had the vicious thought that Koorg is the place for the natives and an outsider cannot earn success from this land. Gradually Madappan excelled in all his works and as per the advice of his aunt, he started an oil business. This turned out to be a great success and it is during those days he met the love of his life “Chemmarathi”. Mandappan fell head over heels in love with her and requested her to marry him. How could she reject such a charming young man? Even though his uncle and aunt didn’t like her, they agreed to the marriage just because of the love
Mandappan had for Chemmarathi. The only advice aunt gave Chemmarathi was never to end up in a fight with Mandappan. Chemmarathi agreed to that and they got married. They lead a happy life after marriage. The oil business hiked and things were going smooth and positive.One day Madappan had to stay back in the neighboring village for a business reason. This aroused a feeling of stagger in Chemmarathi that he is having an extramarital affair. The next day when Mandappan reached home, Chemmarathi treated him with disrespect and refused to serve him breakfast. As he was tired, he requested food and at last, she served food. As he was having the food, he found tiny stones and hair strands in his breakfast. Also, the food ball cracked in halves from his hand. By seeing this Chemmarathi exclaimed that “when food breaks into halves, there will be a cut in your lifeline”, which possibly means that your life is going to end.
At the same time, Mandappan hears the war cry of Mutharmudi Kudakar. Once the war cry is heard, a true warrior will head for the war, Mandappan did the same. He used all his “Kalari” skills in the battlefield and finally defeated the army of Mutharmudi Kudakar. While returning home, Mandappan noticed that his ring finger and his wedding ring was missing. The great warrior refused to go home without his finger and his wedding ring. He thought that instead of being a joke in front of Chemmarathi, it is better to go back to the Warfield and die with honor. As the Kudakkar army saw Mandappan returning, they attack him vigorously. His body was stabbed with a thousand arrows and it split into thousand pieces. The battlefield turned red with Mandappan’s blood. One of his little fingers landed in front of his wife and with shock she realized that her husband was no more.
The next day, Madappan’s pyre was arranged and his body pieces were placed in them. His uncle did his final cremation process and lit fire to his pyre. With a broken heart of losing her husband, Chemmarathi jumped into Mandappan’s pyre and ended her life. After the cremation ceremony, while the group headed back, they witnessed an astonishing sight. They saw Mandappan and Chemmarathi walking through the banks of the river. They were reborn as Gods. From that day, Mandappan was named “Kathivanoor Veeran”, the warrior of Kathivanoor, and the fighter who split into thousand pieces was hailed God.