My father's Ancestral House: Part IV Kazhagam
My father's ancestral house
Kazhagam in a temple where ‘Pujari’ is my brother!
Before proceeding further, I must explain how the son of a Nambudiri is Warrier. T N Kuriakos, Accountant General, Kerala raised the same doubt while interviewing me for a job in his office during 1964. Once I was comfortably seated before him and two of his colleagues, he asked: “Mr Warrier, I find your father is Kesavan Nambudiri, tell us how your surname is Warrier”
I started explaining that in Nambudiri families the custom was only the eldest son marries from the Nambudiri community, making it optional for younger brothers to marry either from the same community or go for ‘sambandham’ (a marriage without much responsibility) from royal families or temple communities. My father married from Warrier community.
AG’s colleagues started asking supplementaries and all doubts were cleared by Shri Kuriakos himself who didn’t allow me to intervene. He said the system followed by the particular Brahmin community was intended to protect family properties and all females had to be married to Nambudiri families only and once married, the female member loses her rights to properties in the family in which she was born. This practice resulted in some female members in each Nambudiri family remaining unmarried. Once AG completed sharing of his knowledge about Nambudiri family law, I was allowed to leave the room. I was selected and worked in AG’s Office, Thiruvananthapuram till January 1968.
As mentioned in Part II, during 1952-59, I used to go for ‘Kazhagam’ in a temple where my father’s nephew (Cheriya Kesavan Nambudiri, younger brother of ‘Thampanettan’) was the Pujari (Santhikkaran). By the time I met him, he was married to a Marar (another temple community, male members of which had duties like playing drums during Pujas, Seeveli etc and other instruments and also Sankhu Vili in the early mornings and late in the evening. That family stayed in a Bunglow-type tiled house close to the Vellikulangara Temple where our family had ‘Kazhagam’(for job profile, see Part I) rights.
My mother or one of the sisters used to go for the Kazhagam duties. When I grew up and was 8 or 9 years old, whenever I was available at home, it was my responsibility to go for the evening Kazhagam. I was to carry every day a small packet of rice and some fuel (dried coconut palm leaves or some small pieces of wood) and hand over them to my cousin (who was Pujari) before starting my duties. This ensured my right to get ‘dinner’ after my duties and stay in his house overnight. Early morning, I would return home.
In retrospect, the Kazhagam duties seasoned me to tolerate any insult from any quarters. I used to get scolded by ‘Pujari’ for inadequacies in the performance of my duties on a daily basis. It could be for not cleaning the temple premises properly, the vessels or brass lamps being oily or black even after washing or for outside lamps disappearing in the breeze.
M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram