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Adiya Ramayana: An oral tradition of Wayanad sees the main figures of the epic as tribals


Kali Mathei is an elder and traditional healer of the Adiya tribal community of Thrissilery in the northern part of Wayanad district. He narrates the Ramayana story, which he inherited from his father, in the following manner:

We believe our Pakkatheyyam (Lord of Pakkam) resides in the Pulpally region. One day, Pakkatheyyam confronted Sita, who was staying in Pulpally. “Look, Sita, don’t stay here. This area belongs to me. You can choose any place outside my area and build your hut there.”

Pakkatheyyam then planted a boundary stone and measured out his land. (It was customary for the devas [deities] in ancient days to establish their control over lands. The jurisdictional limits of each god were clearly demarcated, and they also had their own temples. They set up dominions in places such as the Kottiyoor temple, the Thirunelly temple and the Valliyoorkavu temple, and settled there.)

So, Sita left Pulpally and walked through the forest, crossing hills and dales, carrying all her belongings in a bamboo basket. Rama and Lakshmana were returning the same way, after a battle. Sita stepped aside for them. Rama’s eyes fell on Sita. A flame leapt up in his heart. He said to Lakshmana, “Lakshmana, what a stunning beauty she…

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