An Old Tradition Persists Between Royalty and Tribes During Onam

The Kani tribe stays deep inside the forest and rarely come out of their settlements, until Onam arrives.

Updated
India
2 min read
Members of the Kani tribe, who live in forests met members of the Travancore Royal family and offered ‘Thirumulkazhcha’.
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Monarchies are a thing of the past, but certain traditions that royal families followed, continue even today.

As Kerala gears up to celebrate Onam, members of the Kani tribe, who live in the foothills of the Agasthyarkoodam forest, met members of the Travancore Royal family and offered ‘Thirumulkazhcha'.

A groups of the tribes people, headed by their Mooppan and Mooppathi (chiefs), reached the palace on Tuesday to make the offerings and abide by a tradition that is centuries old.

The Tribe Rarely Steps Out of The Forest

Members of the royal family, writer and niece of the last king of Travancore Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi and Pooyam Thirunal Gowri Parvati Bayi accepted the gifts on behalf of the family.

Forest honey in bamboo tumblers, fruits, vegetables and wild roots neatly packed in cane baskets were offered as part of the ‘Thirumulkazhcha’.

The Kani tribe stays deep inside the forest and rarely come out of their settlements. They are known for following traditional rituals as well as practices, even now.

This tribe is well known for developing traditional methods of honey extraction, as well as for cultivating rare root vegetables.

Centuries ago, they had permission to visit the king of Travancore and wish Onam. The Onam meeting between the king and his subjects was about the relationship between the monarchy and its subjects.

The tribes people would offer ‘Thirumulkazhcha', and in return, the king accepts all their agricultural products as well as naturally collected forest goods to present to the king. The pleased king in return would present Onakodi (new clothes) and food to them.

The tribes people, including women and children, before presenting their gifts, would sing folk songs praising the royal family. Every year, they travel more than 50 kilometres from deep inside the forest to the city just to visit the royal family.

There Arrival is the First sign That Onam is Here

“Their arrival to the palace shows that Onam has reached the royal family. There arrival is the first sign of Onam celebrations here. They live in extremely dangerous places deep inside the forest.

They travel all this way each year as they value this centuries old tradition. They bear all difficulties to come, see us and gift us,” Aswathy Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi told media on Tuesday.

Till 2013, when the last head of the royal family Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma was alive, the tribes people used to share their problems with the king, as they did it during the royal rule, so that the king would suggest solutions. There have been instances when the king has taken up their issues with the ruling government.

After the visit to the palace, the group would visit the Padmanabhaswamy temple where lunch would be offered by the royal family.

(The story was originally published by The News Minute)

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