Attingal man keeps dying ritual alive

via Pioneer News Service | Kollam published on February 20, 2007

Thampi, 38 – a resident of Thiruvananthapuram- has been religiously undertaking a journey for the last six years on foot from Attingal to the Siva temple in Ettumanoor to please the harvest gods.


 


 


Carrying an effigy of bullock made of rice, he takes nine days to complete his journey, at night, living in temples. This ritual is an extension of an age-old practice observed by his forefathers but later abandoned.


 


“The urge to go to the temple haunts me when the paddy fields become ripe enough for harvesting. I make the effigy with my own hand as it needs care, patience and artistic skills,” says Thampi.


 


It usually takes three days of hard work to complete the work, he says. Though a bit sceptical by the media attention he received, while he was spotted at a shop here, he says with innocent charm that he is doing this because it is ‘purely devotional.’


 


Thampi has got no regular job and maintains his family – wife and three children – with what ever work comes his way. So strong is his love for Siva that despite the family having no other source of income, he dedicates three months in the summer to pay his tribute to god.


 


The art of making such effigies out of rice are fast disappearing as the paddy farming is facing a bleak future in the Kerala, which had ‘rice bowl’ districts in plenty.


 


Thampi says that during the time of his grand father several such effigies were brought to the temple from different parts. But now he remains the sole person to keep the ritual alive.


 


“The ritual itself is disappearing. The practice is related to our culture as after a good harvest normally a farmer has to pay his tributes to the universal power, which made it possible,” says Thampi.


 


However, he declines to receive any public help for continuing this ‘ritual.’ “I don’t want the support of the public to continue with my mode of worship. But please don’t try to belittle me, even if I am powerless,” he says.


 


A few years back widely-known film director Bhadran had asked Thampi to make such an effigy for his film Udayan. At first, he was reluctant but after repeated requests he conceded.


 


He went to the set of the film for three days as the director promised him Rs 3000 per day.


 


“But after the completion of the project, the director didn’t give me a penny. I spent money from my pocket to watch the film and was startled to see that the first shot of the film was of this bullock. What a world this is,” he asks.

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