Cremation of the Dead – The Valluvanad Nair Community Way – 5


Now comes the third and last ceremony in connection with the cremation and that gets started on the 14th day. This is a two-day long programme full of ‘Kriyas’ which are usually conducted early in the morning. The participants should take their ‘breakfast’ only after doing these ‘Kriyas’, on both of these days. In the olden days, one external man is employed for cooking food to these participants and for having a total assistance in the various processes involved. This man is termed in the local language as ‘Enangan’. He has to cook food to the members who are doing the ‘Kriyas’ in connection with the cremation ceremony and should take bath before cooking. He also has to assist the group in doing the various ‘Kriyas’.

Another external man is employed for guiding the participants through the various rituals while doing the ‘Kriyas’ of the cremation ceremony. This man must have thorough knowledge in the rituals and he is known by the name ‘Elayath’. He, with the help of the ‘Enangan’ will conduct the proceedings of the 14th and the 15th day rituals. But in the modern days because of practical difficulties, usually nobody does all these things within the house premises. In nearby places there are ‘professional groups’ for these and most of the people are taking their ‘services’ for these ‘last rituals’.

All the members who had earlier participated in carrying the dead-body to the cremation ground and then in the ‘asthi perukkal’ function, will once again assemble together for this last ritual. A notable point in these functions is the participation of the female members like wife, daughters, nieces or other close relatives. On that night they won’t take any rice food. (This is called ‘Orickal’, which literally means ‘only once’. The essence is that they can have ‘heavy food’ only one time a day during this period and during the other two time they can have only very ‘light food’ like some fruits or something like that.) Early next morning, that is the 14th day of cremation, the last rituals begin.

This day also the participants of the rituals have to observe the ‘Orickal’. Usually the rituals, which is known in the vernacular as ‘Kriyas’, are being conducted near the river beds of nearby sacred places like ‘Thirunnawaya Temple’ near ‘Ponnani’ or ‘Pampadi Ivar Madam’ near ‘Ottapalam’. (In the former days, these were also conducted in the ‘Tharavadu’, meaning one’s own ‘main house’ or the ‘ancestral house.) Once the 14th day rituals are completed, the group come and takes rest in the house, where they have assembled. That day also they have to observe the ‘Orickal’. The next day, that is the 15th day of the demise, the rituals again get started. It is being conducted on the same venue as the 14th day. This is the last day of the ‘cremation proceedings’. When that is over the participants disperse themselves. A very important thing is that during these two days, the participant members are not allowed to touch any other outside person.

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