KAVALAPPARA SWAROOPAM ..FAMILY DIETY ARYANKAVILAMMA
People had begun to disperse. The temple and its precincts were slowly slipping into the black silence of the night. Warier took off the towel on his shoulder and tucked his mundu. Wiping the perspiration off his forehead and chest, warier leaned against the stone pillars. Aryankavu Bhagavathi temple was a small structure, we feel it as a big organism organically evolved from nature. The pipal tree on the eastern side whispered even to the slightest breeze and seemed like a forest in the darkness nurturing different plants and trees and creepers entwined on it. The ancient mango tree with wrinkled stem bend its stem to the temple courtyard.. ,” if the mango tree blooms profusely like this .. that heralds of the beginning of unfortunate days..once when it blossomed like this Aryankavilamma strung garlands of pus and death, sowing the seeds of smallpox..”” warier thought.
The whole space was walled with dark aromatic bushes and a bowl of darkness and light from the wick lamps. Then, amid the hooting of owlets of the first Yama of the night, he sat there leaning against serenity. A small tree, fallen across one corner, leaned against the trees that stood still. The heady scent of blooming mysterious flowers…A rapid climber flaunted through the fire red and yellow sprays right to the top. ‘
At last the priest closed and locked the Sreekovil , the inner shrine, and came out. In his left hand was an oil lamp with a wick which still smoked. And the puja kindi in his right hand beside it..just a moment,
‘we are leaving, warier””
The vestiges of the sandal-paste mark he had on his forehead have faded.?’
‘Hmm, it’s very late, there’s moonlight.
The priest put the lamp down on the stone floor. The night spread a bluish carpet as they sauntered along the deserted trail.
WRATH OF FIRE GOD
We heard the panic stricken howling , shouts and calls at the dread of the mid night.The way we communicated an alarm among the inhabitants of thattakam. All rushed forward, keeping our eyes on the red glow at the end of the darkness .Panic stiricken devotees had thronged around the temple.They poured water on the temple which was being engulfed in the forest of flames . We dashed towards the front gate the tongues of flame touched them.
No sooner did I set it alight than I realized how the dark night seemed to have caught fire ,even the temple walls and pillars caught fire. .We all moved forward, keeping our eyes on the red glow at the end of the darkness, the tongues of flame touched the roof and pillars of front structure..We took buckets of water and spilt over the burning fire. the flames soared..like Mahakali’s outstretched red tongue. Her wrath has spread through the sanctum sanctorum, parts of the conical roof in Eastern gopuram and the carved wooden panel. were gutted in the fire, so I fashioned a torch from the leg of a peetam that had collapsed and Warier searched for the idol..the wooden idol ..darushilpam was burning..he poured water …everything is over .Warier was shocked to see that ..the wooden idol has been suffered burns on its body the more than half of its body..flaming and scorching..
HEALING THE BURNS
Devi Temple, one of the ancient temples in Kavalappara. The family diety of Kavalappara Mooppil Nair suffered major damage in the fire that broke out in the midnight hours of the Friday night.
”We want a new idol to conjure the spirit of Aryankavilamma. We may renovate the temple structure..who will sculpture a new idol for our family deity Aryankavilamma??”The Kavalappara Mooppil Nair paused challenge before the community..of sculptors in Kavalappara..
The centuries old legacy of Kavalappara sculpturing…No one spoke a word ,every one knew the power and fierceness of Devi.They still remember the story of fore father sculptor who was thouroughly engaged in the sculpturing a Devi. ,Or Durga, specifically speaking Kali .He called aloud his wife loudly as he couldn’t locate the food stuff that his wife Kali had kept… He shouted Kalee where’s the supper?No answer..KALEEE ..He shouted again.The unfinished idol kept under red cotton cloth answered with a “”Hmmmmm””.such is the power of Durga..They believed that if there is any distraction or deviation from the observances he would be killed..Nobody answered..
“It’s disgraceful …Thampuran..pricked the sculpturing community..should I Have to invite a sculptor from Thanjavur? “
”I will chisel out the Aryankavu Devi.”;.Everyone was startled. It was Perumal who took the challenge, braving death, the impending risk. He was twenty-two at that time. He erected a makeshift thatched shed clearing the
overgrown plants and thickets in a patch in the temple compound..As per the customs he selected a large boulder of Charnockite ..We call that Krishna Shila from Mezhathur,Thrithala and two bullock carts discharged the burden to Aryankavu. Perumal went up to the Forest stream and took a bath. He conducted the ritual ”Shila Parigraham ”means marrying the stone ..He conjured up Devi and started to chisel. Days and weeks passed.Perumal Mooppar went on chiselling…At last, he completed the idol and handed it over to the Brahmins. Still, we bow to the idol in Aryankavu which was created by Perumal Mooppar.
The most well-known sculptor of the last century was Perumal Moopar . Now we mee guyzt Velayudhan Mooppar of Kavalappara.
SCULPTOR SRI. VELAYUDHAN MOOPPAR
Sculptor Velayudhan wields magic in his deft hands as he brings to life hundreds of idols of Gods and Goddesses in the temples across old and modern temples in the State. Hailing from a village named Koonathara near Aryankavu temple Palakkad district, “I always had an interest in arts and was good at sketching. Noticing my talent, My late uncle Sanku Mooppar was my Guru and was initiated into this activity at the age of twenty-three. Sanku Mooppar was Perumal’s son, I stayed with him for months and learnt the art of sculpting idols. The tradition of granite sculpturing still exists in its glory on the banks of river Nila and the prominent, skilled artists who create temple idols are from Kavallapara village near Shornur in Pallakad district. Perumal Mooppar died when Velayudhan was in his teens.
That Perumal’s son is Sanku Mooppar ,my guru ..and uncle..We are the sculptores of Kavalappara..Velayudhan Mooppan continued..The most well-known sculptor of the last century was Perumal Mopar, who sculptured the idol of Aryankavil . Father of Sanku Mooppar ,Perumal Mooppar who died when Velayudhan was in his teens.
Mr Velayudhan who is sixty-five years old and residing near Arayankavu temple situated near Aryankavu Bhagavathy temple, Kavalappara, near Koonathara in Palakkad district.s the senior-most veteran sculptor and his makeshift studio is also here. His early studies, training by Sanku Mooppan in Dasathalam, Navathalam, Panchathalam which are anatomical scales for different idols, led Velayudhan to become an expert in anatomy. The musculature of his bodies is so authentically precise that they’ve been said to breathe upon sight. Sri Velayudhan s dexterity with carving an entire sculpture from a single block of marble remains unparalleled.
Sri Velayudhan Mooppar says , “I see the Goddess in the rock and carve until I set the goddess free.” Some times I may feel that the nose of the idol can be done in that way as in dreams” . He was known as one who could conjure real life from stones.”
Velayudhan Mooppar narrated a story.”Once a
gentleman once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol of God.
”Excellence is a Drive from inside, not outside”
Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby. Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same idol?
“No,” said the sculptor without looking up, “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage.
”The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. “Where is the damage?” he asked There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work.“There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work.“Where are you going to install the idol?”The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high.“If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked. The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said,“I know it and God knows it!”The desire to excel should be exclusive of the fact whether someone appreciates it or not. Excellence is a drive from inside, not outside. Excel at a task today” Velayudhan Mooppar concluded.
‘MALE ROCK OR FEMALE ROCK ??
”So while selecting the stone we should be careful to avoid the scratches…and blemishes.” The selection of stones is an art..You see ,if the rock lies in the east-west direction lengthwise we take it as a male rock.We create idols from male rocks.If the rock is flattened and lies in a north-south direction it can be considered as a female rock.That is convenient to carve a peetam or seat of the idol. We may hammer the stone in different ways and compare the sound created. Aminor flaw on the rock spells doom for the culture.” Velayudhan Mooppar added.
CHARNOCKITE ROCKS LOCALLY KNOWN AS” KRISHNASHILA ”.
‘The rock is then cut to size carefully depending on the style and dimensions of the sculpture. Then we outline a rough outline of the sculpture on the stone.After the markings are done, the stone is cut to the basic shape of the sculpture. Then we chisel out the unwanted parts and polish after artisans many months of back-breaking toil the sculpture is ready to leave the studio.We still follow the traditional scales of measurements and calculations – Yavam (0.375mm), Viral (3cm), Kol (72 cm), etc
”Depending upon the size and quality of work, the sculptor takes three months to six months to complete the work Velayudhan Mooppar continued. Nowadays we collect Charnockite blocks from Killimangalam for sculpturing, We hand over the sculpture to temple authorities.If it’s a ”shadadhara installation ”, we may provide other accessories which are buried under the floor of sanctum sanctorum.the accessories are arranged as shown interest the above diagram.”
MOOPPAR COMMUNITY ALONG THE BANKS OF NILA
The community is known as Mooppar and it is also an honorary way of addressing a team leader. This community have spread out and settled on the banks of river Nila at different places. Kavalappara, Chelakara ,Meetna, Painkulam . Panamanna , Kattukulam , Chemallasery , Pulamanthole, Mulayankavu etc. Many of the community members are still in Granite work and sculpting. Generally, these people work on Krishna Shila, the black Charnockite, which are a common type, used in creating temple idols.
Velayudhan Mooppar and his two sons Suresh and Rajesh are sculptors, specialized in temple idols and other temple work. Apart from them, there are more than twenty sculptors in their studio . Velayudhan’s brothers are also in the same profession based at nearby place Meetna.
”Sreekumaran, who had also trained under Sanku Mooppar, is my brother in law who resides near to me at Kavalappara. He also is a sculptor. One of his son Vinod kumar follows him in this profession.”
Apart from idols they also make variety of products especially those used in temple constructions like the steps to the sanctum, door frames, traditional oil lamps etc.
In Kavalappara area some other families are also engaged in granite work. They are V P Ravindran, Sivakumar C, Narayanankutty to name a few.
If you want to visit him his studio is
Situated near Aryankavu Bhagavathy temple, Kavalappara, near Koonathara in Palakkad district. Shoranur railway station is 6km and Ottappalam is 15km. Also accessible from Koonathara on Kulappulli- Vaniyamkulam road.
Sculptures crafted by Sri Velayudhqn Mooppar have a life of their own, living breathing stones of splendour..He is a master sculptor who creates Gods and Goddesses.