Chelakkara -My village in Kerala, seventy years back
(Known in the village as Raja during those times)
These are Random thoughts of an old man .There is no order in them and by no means it is complete .I am sure there would be mistakes If you belong to Chelakkara Gramam and find any mistakes in what I write do correct it and write other facts which you remember.
My village was a part of the Thalapilly Taluq of Cochin state , which was the rice granary of Kerala. The nearest Railway station was Wadakkancherry and the nearest town was Trichur . It was located inside the valley of Machattu mountain. The area where Brahmins lived in the village was called for some peculiar reason Chelakkara Gramam. Chel in Malayalam means pretty and Kara meant the place where Nair houses were situated.It seems before Tamil Brahmins settled there , the entire Chelakkara Gramam belonged to Nairs..In the middle of the Gramam there is a very huge Narasimhamurthy temple belonging to a Nambudiri family .All round the temple Brahmins lived in houses with compounds round it . My father had told me that one Brahmin gentleman from a nearby village called Thonnurkkara was the first to settle in the village ,He it seems had seven daughters and once they were given in marriage the son in laws who came from different Palakkad agraharams preferred to stay in this pretty village . This family was the seed family of the village. Their relations from their native villages and teachers who came on transfer to the old government schools settled there itself. When I was a boy there were about 120 brahmin houses in Chelakkara Gramam. Though most of the people were poor, some families were relatively rich. At that time I remember that there were , an engineer, a doctor ,A vertinary doctor , an overseer , 4-5 graduates , a post graduate in mathematics and even a doctorate in mathematics . Five brahmins in the village were having shops in the village itself , out of which two were provision stores , one ran a cloth store and another was a newspaper dealer as well as agent for school books and stationary, and one was running a copper vessel store. Two families were village priests , two were astrologers and atleast 3-4 families were cooks by profession. Ofcourse there was a Menon Sami(Menon is a post in Revenue department), two were retired registrars , one was a musician and 5-6 people were teachers in high school as well as in elementary schools around the village .Interestingly one Brahmin of the village was a professor of mathematics in Trichur, his father was the Principal of the University college Trivandrum,. Even at the time one Brahmin was running a Nellu Kuthu Company (paddy pounding company) in the outskirts of the village and his brother was a freedom fighter. Many of the families owned small pieces land and they were essentially absentee land lords. Large number of people were working or owning hotels in different cities in India. The village was not electrified. There were plenty of buses coming from Trichur which were going to Pazhayannur. There were two doctors practicing just outside the village . There used to a gentleman called Nondi Asan who used to come to all homes and teach the young kids , Malayalam, sanskrit etc.There was a government high school as well as a private girl’s school . One brahmin gentleman was a famous Ayurvedic doctor and his brother was running a typing shorthand institute. Most of the people used to complete SSLC in local school , study in the typing Institute and leave for Mumbai , where a Brahmin gentleman of the village was running a hotel. He used to accommodate all the boys going from the village till they get the job and collect the dues later . Thus a very large number of people of the village became prosperous by working in Mumbai. I always think that the Brahmins of the village should erect statutes to the gentleman who ran the typing institute in the village and to the one who ran the hotel in Mumbai , because but for them , my village would be still poor. There was also a Kamban kudi family which had settled down in the village. A Psharodi family which takes care of supply of flowers to the temple and Embrandhiri family which used to do Pooja in the temple were also part of the village.
I still remember an old Tailor called Ponnusamy chettiar and a tailor for relatively rich called Damodaran in the Chelakkara Angadi who were the only tailors used by the village,. There used to be two Barbers called Appu Kuttan and Madhavan serving the Brahmins of the village .There used to be two doctors DR.Antony and DR,Madhava Menon who used to treat all the Brahmins of the village .There used to be a maternity Nurse called Lakshmi Kutti Amma who was always serving the village Brahmin ladies. There used to be two post offices at that time in the village, of which one was a post office of Cochin state (Anchal office) and a British post office.
A Narasimha Murthy temple which belonged to a Nambudiri family was situated in the centre of the village .The God was considered as a Vara Prasadhi because even at that time A sait from Gujarat had built a huge entrance to the temple .I understand that this temple was attacked by Tippu Sultan , who broke the statue of the temple and threw it in the temple tank.Later a new idol was got made and consecrated .The temple had also a Ganapathi sand Satha sub temples. All people believed that by breaking 120 coconuts to that Ganapathi and distributing it to the Brahmins in the village all their problems can be solved. Elephants never used to enter this temple as it was believed that they would die on entering the temple . The Brahmins had got made a small chariot which they used to draw round the temple.The Brahmins also had a SAmooha Madam constructed at that time for their use . Several free feasts .Nava Rathri in the temple was being celebrated in a grand manner .Frequently Harikathas as well as Sampradaya Bhajans were being held at the temple All Brahmins used to take bath in the village tank or the THodu (stream) near by , go to the temple and then only started their activities.where Free feast was being arranged at least on five to six days annually . There used to be a temple tank and a pond belonging to the Samooham , which were rarely used for bathing during those times.
Adjacent to the village there was a village of Tamil speaking Muslims (called Ravuthars) and telugu speaking Nayakkars, Outside the grammam, there were localities where Tamil speaking chettiars lived. Apart from them people of all castes and religion lived in this village .I still vividly remember how the ladies of Pathu Kudi (umma) used to go the forest and bring either firewood as well as Bamboo thorn and sell them in the evening .The male Ravuthars used to come to village buy small quantities of paddy, take it home , pound it and sell to the shop owners. The Naikkars were essentially well diggers who used to go to any distance to dig wells..Several Nair ladies came as maid servants in the Brahmin house holds. We children were very close to these maid servants.
Water was a big problem in the village during summer .During some seasons, only one house in the village had water in the well and we used to go at least a km to get water. Ponds in the village used to get dried.All people used to walk three to four km daily to take bath in the pond of the famour Temple Anthimahakalan Kavu.
Brahmins used to live in clusters in near by villages caked Venganallur , where there used to be a huge Shiva temple , Pulacode where there is A karthyayani temple and Kolathur , where there used to be a Aubramanya templw.There used to a priests family living in KOlathur
Now things g have changed .Most of the Chelakkara Brahmins have become prosperous .I even met a boy from Chelakkara who had a Ph.D from Harward in law. Though there are hardly 10-15 Brahmin families now living in Chelakkara Gramam .,the entire population of the village assemble there during festivals in the Narasimha murthy temple.