Mamankam festival was held at Thirunnavaya on the banks of Bharathappuzha. It was considered as the greatest cultural event and trade fair in those days. But the political significance of the mela shoulnt be under estimated.The twenty eight day long festival ends on the makam day of magham month.the word mamankam literally means great makhamasa. Maa means maha or great. makhamasa is a month in hindu calendar that falls in between mid-January and mid-February. Maamankam derived from maakha-makam suggests that the festival is celebrated during the 28 days ending on the star of makam which falls on the waxing phase of the moon.At the grand finale which was a great assembly of rulers the new king of kerala was selected. It was a practice to hold a conference of chieftains, Naduvazhis and Deshavazhis to set their approach and strategies on the administrative and political policies for the coming twelve years.Two of the earlier kings who abdicated their thrones following this route were Kulasekhara Alwar eighth century and Cheraman perumal AD 825.
After the end of the Kulasekhara rule the title to conduct the Mamankam was vested with the rulers of Perumpadappu.Later it was passed to the rulers of Valluvanad.The special right to stand asRaksha purusha was considered as a unique consideration. Rakshapurushan (protector) who presides the great festival Mamankam.
Thirunavaya was captured from Vellaattiri the ruler of Valluvanad by Samoothiri in between 1351 and 1363. He declared himself as Raksha purusha who bears the right to on the much coveted Nilapaduthara surrounded by hundreds of armed soldiers.Thus the basic objective of Mamankam ,selecting anew king was never fulfilled ,instead a game of revenge continued throughout the festival.Vellattiri, the king of Valluvanad did not recognize the Zamorin as legitimate Raksha purusha.
Vellattiri began to hold a pooram festival in the place of Mamankam at Angadippuram. Thirumanthankunnu Bhagavathy was the tutelary diety of Valluvanad king. He stood on a raised granite platform in the temple premises, like Nilapaduthara The other rulers in the region (naduvazhi’s) used to send flags as a sign of regard. But the rulers of Valluvanad used to send suicide squads. If the suicide squads kill Samoothiri, the right of Vellaattiri would be re-established. The Samoothiri was well protected by more than thousand soldiers. Chavers or suicide warriors fought until death , .their dead bodies are believed to be laid in Manikkinar and elephants pressed the mass of carcasses there The manikkinar can be located a few metres away from the Nilapaduthara.
the written account of the attack is given by Hamilton and WilliamLogan. ”Amid much din and firing of guns the Morituri, the Chaver Nayars, the elect of four Nayar houses in Waluvanad, step forth from the crowd and receive the last blessings and farewells of their friends and relatives. They have just partaken of the last meal they are to eat on earth at the house of the temple representative of their chieftain; they are decked with garlands and smeared with ashes. On this particular occasion it is one of the houses of Putumanna Panikkar who heads the fray. He is joined by seventeen of his friends – Nayar or Mappila or other arms-bearing caste-men – for all who so wish may fall in with sword and target in support of the men who have elected to die.
Armed with swords and targets alone they rush at the spearmen thronging the palisades; they wind and turn their bodies, as if they had no bones, casting them forward and backward, high and low, even to the astonishment of the beholders, as worthy Master Johnson describes them in a passage already quoted. But notwithstanding the suppleness of their limbs, notwithstanding their delight and skill and dexterity in weapons, the result is inevitable, and is prosaically recorded in the chronicle thus: The number of Chavers who came and died in the early morning the next day after the elephant began to be adorned with gold trappings – being Putumanna Kantur Menon and followers – was 18. At various times during the ten last days of the festival the same thing is repeated. Whenever the Zamorin takes his stand on the terrace, assumes the sword and shakes it, men rush forth from the crowd on the west temple gate only to be impaled on the spears of the guardsmen who relieve each other from day to day.” This War Despatch with deadly climax was scribbled by Logan during the 1683 Mamankam festival.
“In Anno 1695, one of these jubilees happened when the tent was pitched near Ponnany, a seaport of his (Samoothiri’s) about 15 leagues to the southward of Calicut. There were but three men that would venture on that desperate action, who fell on with sword and target, among the guards, and after they had killed and wounded many, were themselves killed.
One of the desperadoes had a nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of age, that kept close by his uncle in the attack on the guard, and when he saw him fall, the youth got through the guard into the tent and made a stroke at His Majesty’s head and had certainly despatched him, if a large brass lamp which was burning over his head, had not marred the blow; but before he could make another he was killed by the guards, and I believe the same Samoothiri reigns yet. I chanced to come that time along the coast and heard the guns for two or three days and nights successively.” This is the description of Mamankam 1695 written by captain Alexander Hamilton, The 15 year old boy mentioned was Chandrath Panicker
The history of the suicide squads probably begins in Kerala with the advent of The Chera kings. The Chera kings with the help of efficient suicide squads defeated Chola armies during the period of between 990 and 1105. Thus Ramavarama kulashekhara imparted the cult of suicide squads for the first time! Zamorin would stand waiting at the Nilapadu thara surrounded by a huge contigent of soldiers and a battle was fought between the Chavers and the soldiers of theZamorins. . Nilapaduthara was raised platform made of granite and Laterite blocks. The platform is rectangular in shape, and it spread over more than a thousand square feet. Certain granite structures of strange cylindrical shape and circular shape enhances the tone of the mysterious past.
Nilapaduthara one of the prominent monument of Mamankam festival lies in the premises of Kodakkal tile factory.Nilapaduthara was renovated and restored its lost glory under the Nila tourism project with the support of archaeology department .Nilapaduthara is a monument notified as a valuable part of the worlds cultural heritage.This is a sort of place where clattering sounds of shining swords echoes in our ears. The smell of blood still lingers in the air. The solid granite structure must have stories to tell. Thou the artefact is not so exquisite in architectural aspects. Comparing the raised platforms of sumarians, it bears the destiny of the young soldiers who poured out the red sweet wine of youth.