We had a lovely family get-together and Onam (Kerala’s biggest festival) celebrations at a historic location. About 40 of us gathered in the Tharavad House of Murikkan, the kayal Raja (king of rice cultivation). That was 60% of the families of my siblings, 40% being overseas travelling during the holidays
My sister is married to Kayal Raja’s son The ancestral house was built some 120 years back and stands in the middle of Kuttanad (the rice bowl of Kerala) which is now connected by road.
Two Prime Ministers (Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi) visited the house. Kayal Raja title was bestowed on my sister’s father in law by Nehru.
Kayal Raja did something impossible by developing the waterbody (kayal) which is actually below sea level by building bunds and planting coconut tress all over the bund. The nellara (rice storage facility) is a huge godown where boats full of rice were stored.
The first communist government in Kerala wanted to show their land reform and nationalized thousands of acres of Kayal raja’s land giving a paltry compensation. In fact this was the only land take over that the Government did! The government management has totally destroyed the paddy cultivation and it is a sad story now where no one knows how to cultivate in the land. Murikkan was a visionary and he acquired large pieces of land and planted rubber and cash crops so that the family is secure.
The organizer of the get-together was my wife. We had a number of games including a group dance led by me. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.
We had pookkalam (onam flower arrangement), nilavilakk which my eldest sister lighted, various games and completions for all ages, songs, dances, speed boat ride, swimming in the deep and wide water, some fishing and above all the ona sadya (onam lunch) where we had the traditional payasams- ada pradhaman and palada.
A very enjoyable day
Incidentally the Murikkan family is planning to develop the place into a tourism resort/ homestay. I can bet that it will turn out to be ‘the place’ to visit when it is all ready