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226 CHAPTER IX IMPORTANT FESTIVALS, DRESS AND ORNAMENTS IN KOCHI In the annals of history we can see that human beings are fond of celebrating festivals and rituals. Festivals are an occasion for the people to rejoice and merry making. They are the occasions in which the people celebrate their victories and harvest. Generally, the people of Kerala celebrate their own festivals like Onam, Vishu, and Tiruvathira. In the celebration of festivals we can see regional variations across Kerala. Festivals do vary from place to place and many of them one or other related to the temples or the places of worship in the localities. In the regional state of Kochi we can find several caste groups who had their own styles of dressing and ornaments of their own. This chapter also discusses the salient features of the dress and ornaments of the people in the regional state of Kochi. Being the nucleus of the regional state of Kochi the celebrations and festivals of Trippunithura are of great importance while analyzing the cultural history.. The people of Trippunithura celebrate number of festivals including Athachamayam and the festivals of Poornathrayeesa Temple. It differs from the other festivals of Kerala because of its variety and individuality. It is famous for its pomp, splendor and extravaganza.

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    In the annals of history we can see that human beings are fond

    of celebrating festivals and rituals. Festivals are an occasion for the

    people to rejoice and merry making. They are the occasions in which

    the people celebrate their victories and harvest. Generally, the people

    of Kerala celebrate their own festivals like Onam, Vishu, and

    Tiruvathira. In the celebration of festivals we can see regional

    variations across Kerala. Festivals do vary from place to place and

    many of them one or other related to the temples or the places of

    worship in the localities. In the regional state of Kochi we can find

    several caste groups who had their own styles of dressing and

    ornaments of their own. This chapter also discusses the salient

    features of the dress and ornaments of the people in the regional state

    of Kochi.

    Being the nucleus of the regional state of Kochi the celebrations

    and festivals of Trippunithura are of great importance while analyzing

    the cultural history.. The people of Trippunithura celebrate number of

    festivals including Athachamayam and the festivals of Poornathrayeesa

    Temple. It differs from the other festivals of Kerala because of its

    variety and individuality. It is famous for its pomp, splendor and


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    There is no unanimous opinion regarding the origin of

    Athachamayam. We can see that a group of scholars opine that,

    Athachamayam started in order to commemorate the victory of Kochi

    Raja in the war against the Zamorin of Calicut. Another version is that

    it is the beginning of the war journey (Padappurppadu) of soldiers to

    participate in the Mamankam1. According to another version, the last

    Perumal after being abandoned the throne, gave away the right to

    conduct the temple festival at Thrikkakkara temple, which was under

    his control, to the fifty six naduvazhis. He further instructed them to

    celebrate the festival on turn basis like one after another annually2.

    The family deity of these kings was the Vamana of Trikkakkara

    Mahakshethra. Another version goes like this: Once a year, ten days

    before the Onam (about the middle of August), the Raja goes in state,

    wearing his star and attended by all his native officials from one place

    to the other. This feast is called the uttum chumium or that of star

    decorating. It is said to be held in commemoration of the day when

    the first Cochin Raja entered into the possession of his Malabar


    At that period, temple festivals were celebrated for twenty eight

    days. It starts with Kodiyettam on the day of Thiruvonam in the month

    of Karkkidakam and flag de-hoisting with Araat in the Thiruvonam day

    in the month of Chingam. It was the joint endeavour of two kings to


    1 P.Kerala Varma, Athachamayam (Mal.), in Peoples Urban Cop-Op Bank Ltd. Platinum Jubilee Souvenir, Trippunithura, 1993, p.56. 2 N.G.Krishnan, Athaghosham: Rajakeeyavum Janakeeyavum, in M.K.Sanu (ed.) Kazhcha 2003(Mal.), Thrippunithura, 2003, p.125. 3 Francis Day, The Land of the Perumals or Cochin its Past and Present, (Reprint),Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, 2006,p.3.

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    conduct the Ahas of the day. The Atham Ahas was organized by the

    Zamorin and the Raja of Kochi. Athachamayam was the royal journey

    of the King of Kochi to participate in the function. Formerly Zamorin

    also celebrated Athachamayam4

    With the elevation of Trippunithura as the headquarters of the

    Kochi royal family, the celebration of the Athachamayam reached a new

    stage and it involves several functions. The first event of Athachanayam

    is desamariyakkal

    , when the temple of Trikkakkara was

    jointly owned by the kings of Kerala. But later it came under the

    occupation of the Raja of Edappally. After this incident, other rulers

    did not participate in this festival.

    5. It is the function of informing the people about the

    arrival of Atham, four days earlier. The arrival of Atham was

    announced by the kings lieutenants on elephant back by trumpeting

    an instrument known as Nakkara. The significance of the function lies

    in the importance that the king wanted to make his people aware of

    the arrival of a great festival of Kerala. The grandeur and extraveganza

    of Athachamayam has been remembered by various contemporary


    They constructed a building, as the protected residence of the

    members of the royal family at Trippunithura called Devathamalika



    During the 18th

    4 P.Kerala Varma, Op.Cit.,p.236. 5 S.K.Vasanthan, Kerala Samskara Nighandu (Mal.), Kerala Bhasha Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, 2005,p.31. 6 V.Gauri, Njan Kanda Athachamayam (Mal), in in M.K.Sanu (ed.), Op.Cit.,p.76. 7 N.G.Krishnan,Op.Cit.,p.126.

    century the Athachamayam celebrations were centred

    on Kottakakam. On the day of Atham, before dawn the king after

    taking bathe (Pallineerattu) reaches Poornathrayeesa temple and after

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    having darshan, they reach Kalikkotta palace8

    The most important event in this celebration is the Atham

    procession. It starts around 8oclock in the morning from the

    Kalikkotta palace at Trippunithura and after circum traveling

    Kottakkakam reaches Kalikkota. As and when the Hill Palace became

    the abode of the Rajas the procession started from there and after

    circulating through Kottakkakam reaches hill Palace

    . The king and his

    entourage started their procession from the Kalikkotta palace. When he

    occupies the throne, the officers known as thirooppadammaras decorate

    the royal body by applying sandal paste and they dress him with royal

    attire. This function is known as Chamayam.

    9. In the

    procession the Raja was carried in the royal palanquin. The bearers of

    the palanquine are known as Pondanmar. The king was accompanied

    by the young men of royal family with open sword, then lords,

    samanthas, diwans and high officers. It was followed by cavalry,

    elephants and infantry and also with royal band troupe. Heralding

    the beginning of the royal procession, ceremonial gunshot was made.

    The whole subjects will report on both sides of the royal path to

    witness the procession and venerate the raja in person with folded

    hands. There is evidence to show that Athachamayam was celebrated

    form 1701 to 1721 at Chazhur during the time of Ramavarma


    8 Chelangat Gopalakrishnan, Onathinte Charithram (Mal.), NBS, Kottayam, 1981,p.114. 9 Interview with Ilamana Hari, Palace Supdt. Of Parikshit Thamburan, the last ruler of Kochi, in his residence Mankail House Thrippunithura on 21st October, 2010. 10 Ramesan Thamburan, Geneology of Cochin Royal Family, Thrippunithura, p.9.

    . During 1932-41 Athachamayam was celebrated from

    Thrissur Kovilkam at the time of Chovvara Theepetta Maharaja. It was

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    also celebrated at Kanayannur when Kochi royal family ruled form


    When the Athachamayam procession reaches the Kovilakam, the

    Maharaja occupies his throne. It was followed by presentation of

    mementos. The officer called Pattola Menon looking into the cadjan

    records call the names of the people who had to receive presents. The

    order of hierarchy is from Brahman, Samanthas, Madambimar,

    Asaymakal, Desaymakal etc. Each of the section is assigned number of

    coins called puthen according to their status and kept rolled in plantain

    leaves11. The Puthen due to the Diwan is 100 and to other officers are

    25. The Kakkad Kaaranavappadu was presented with onappudava or the

    new dress for the Onam. When the gift giving ceremony was over, all

    the participants were given delicious feast and also presented with one

    Puthen. This feast is known as the Sarvani Sadhya12

    Amritheth is also an important programme related to the

    Athachamayam. The big feast with sixty four dishes is served in a big

    plantain leaf stitched with three plantain leafs surrounded with

    ashtamangalyam, nirapara and nilavilakku



    11 Details of Puthan, the silver coin of Kochi could be gathered from Parameswari Lal Gupta, Coins, New Delhi, 2000,p.191. 12 S.K.Vasanthan, Op.Cit.,p.32. 13 Ibid.p.32

    . The preparation and serving

    of the feast is the duty of the Namboodiri known as Sangha. After the

    feast the balance of food is removed. This is also a part of the function.

    When the king rises up after his royal food called Amretheth to wash

    his hands, the practice of Mumbil tali and Chirutha Vili take place. As

    soon as the king finishes his food, the main cook known as

    Valiyavilamball utter the word Chirutha. Hearing this, a maid servant

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    came forward and takes the leaf with the food waste and returns14.

    Another servant walks in front of the king backward and sprays holy

    water to purify. This ceremony is known as Mumbil tali. After this

    purification ceremony the Athachamayam celebrations end. The

    grandeur exhibited by the Athachamayam during the days of royalty in

    Kochi has been allueded by several contemporaries15

    As students of history we are interested in the social implications

    of the festival. Being the festival of the people in the regional

    landscape of Kochi, Athachamayam spread the message and spirit of

    egalitarianism among the people. When untouchability and

    unapproachability were prevalent in the region, Athachamayam festival

    gave equal importance to all the people irrespective of their caste and

    religion. Karingachira Kathanar, Nettur Tangalan, Chembil Arayan etc.,

    belong to different strata of society were permitted to visit the king in

    the Kovilakam and presents were offered to the king



    The festival has certain economic aspects too. During this

    occasion Trippunithura was converted into a big trade centre.

    Merchants from various parts of Kerala assemble there with their

    agriculture products, agriculture equipments, house hold utensils, toys

    and fancy items. Thus it was an occasion for merry making

    irrespective of social taboos and its financial contribution also to be

    . They were also

    permitted to participate in the procession connected with the festival.

    On the day of Athachamayam all the subjects are permitted to enter

    freely into kings Kovilakam as well as in the Kilikkotta palace.

    14 P.Kerala Varma, Op.Cit.,p.235. 15 V. Gauri, Op.Cit.,p.76. 16 R.T.Ravivarma, Rajavamsam:Thrippunithura Smaranakal (Mal.), Kottayam,2010,p.110

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    considered. The festival of Athachamayam continues even today under

    the auspices of the Trippunithura Municipality and it is known as


    The temple of Poornathrayeeya is the cultural symbol of

    Trippunithura. The temple has had a great role in shaping the cultural

    aspects of the region. The deity of the temple is Vishnu. The idol of

    Vishnu is made of metal and is in big size


    18. The festivals in this

    temple are celebrated in the months of Chingam, Vrischigam and

    Kumbam which start with Kodiyettam and ends with Aratt on

    Thiruvonam, after eight days. The festival of Chingam was unimportant

    and that of Kumbham was known as Paara utsalvam. The most

    prominent is in the month of Vrischikam19. All the eight days of the

    festival there was different types of programme throughout the day.

    The ezhunellippu with fifteen decorated elephants with pancharimelam is

    the most attractive event. Different types of dances including Kathakali

    and Ottamtullal are being staged. Martial arts like Valppayattu, and

    Kunthameru were also staged. Pavakkuthu and Dasiyattam were the two

    important art forms which attracted the people much20

    A demographic account of Kochi would reveal that various

    caste groups and religious communities inhabited in the region and

    they had their own style in dressing. The cultural standard and

    material prowess of these groups could be inferred from their dressing



    17 Thrippunithura Nagarasabha Vikasana Rekha- Onpatham Padhadhi (Mal.), p.14. 18 Kunhikuttan Ilyath, Sri Poornathrayeesan Kshetra Charithram (Mal.), Thrippunithura, 2001,p.14. 19 Vrishchikolsavam 2009, Sri Poornathrayeesa Seva Sangam, Thrippunithura,2009,p.255 20 Interview with Ilamana Hari, Palace supdt. Of Parikshit Thamburan, the last ruler of Kochi, in his residence Mankail House Thrippunithura on 21st October, 2010.

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    style. However, we cannot have a monolithic description of the

    dressing style of the various caste groups in Kochi, since the style of

    dressing evolved through the ages. In the history of dressing in Kochi,

    the growing influence of the British has of great significance since they

    brought the practice of wearing blouses among womenfolk. With this

    the discrimination in terms of dressing came to an end. Several such

    trends are apparent in the state of Kochi during the period under


    The royal family of Kochi constituted the first section in our

    discussion of the dressing style. Traditionally, the women of the royal

    family did wrap a single piece of fine spun white around their waist

    first as an inner wear and then as a dhoti. Upper body cover was not

    common except in ceremonial occasions, whereas second piece of

    similar cloth was to be held under the arms to cover the breast. By

    1800, the single piece of cloth for the lower body was separated as an

    inner wear worn wrapped around the legs and an outer mundu worn

    similar to the men except in the opposite direction.

    In the regional state of Kochi we can see that each caste and

    community had their own traditional form of dress. In the dressing

    style of the men we can not find many differences between the various

    castes. However, certain slight variations in the styles of the various

    caste groups were apparent. Among the male folk the common form

    of dressing was a piece of white cloth called mundu. Most of the caste

    groups wear the mundu tuck it inside on the right side of the waist, but

    the Muslims often do so on the left. It was common that the men

    folding up the mundu from below up to the knees and tucking it up at

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    the front almost in the middle to allow free movements for the legs

    and also to prevent the cloth from getting wet during heavy rains. The

    wearing of mundu was quite common among the people in the

    regional state of Kochi.

    The traditional under garment was konakam or koupeenam, which

    is a vertical strip of cloth passed between the thighs, the ends being

    attached to a string round the loins both at the back and at the front.

    Wearing of such dresses was quite common among the people

    belonged to the upper stratum of the society. The people in the lowest

    ebb of the society did not wear such since they could not afford such

    luxuries. The people in the upper stratum did wear a small upper

    garment called thorthumundu. It is noted that this dress was worn

    while at home and on special occasions they wear a second cloth of

    better texture called pavumundu21

    Even though we can find several commonalities in the dressing

    style of the men folk in the regional state of Kochi, there were certain

    peculiar modes of dressing prevalent among certain caste groups.

    Nambutiris and Elayads, for instance, resorted to thattudukkal, which

    consists of a long piece of cloth tied round the loins with a portion of it

    passed between the thighs and tucked in at the front and behind with

    a front portion arranged in a number of duplications. We can see that

    . The pavumundu was longer and

    broader and it was worn over the upper part of the body. Shirt was

    not common among the village folk and it was treated as a symbol of

    cultured and learned. The wearing of shirt was the style of the town


    21 A. Sreedhara Menon, Kerala District Gazetteers-Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram, 1965,p.287.

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    the nair men have worn a cloth round the waist and a small upper

    garment while they were at home. They always carry an palm leaff

    umbrella, while walking.

    But we can find certain differences in the dressing style of the

    Muslim men folk. Among the ordinary class of Muslims, the men

    wear round their loins a white mundu with a boarder and kept in

    position by a nool or waist string to which are attached some pieces of

    gold or silver metals containing the lines of the holy Quran. It is noted

    that they also wear a small linen skull cap on the head22. A similar

    fashion was also followed by the Black Jews. They wear a small loin

    cloth with a shirt and skull cap like that of the Muslims. On ordinary

    occasions the White Jews wear a white cotton skull cap, jacket, waist

    coat and trousers23. The jacket has full sleeves, breast pockets and

    twelve bright silver buttons which are fastened in a fine silver chain

    attached to the topmost hole. While proceeding to the synagogue for

    prayer, they worn a traditional dress and was featured by a long tunic

    of rich colour with a waistcoat over it buttoned up to the neck, full

    white trousers, a skull cap and sometimes, a turban. At home they

    wear a coloured loin cloth, a shirt and a cap. While appearing in

    public the White Jews preferred to appear in Western costumes24

    Unlike the dressing of the men, the women in the regional state

    of Kochi had differences in their dressing styles and it could be varied

    according to social status of the caste groups. The womenfolk of the

    castes like the Nairs and Ambalavasis did wear an under cloth called


    22 Ibid.,p.288. 23 Interview with Miss. Yayel J Haleegua, the care taker of Jewish Synagoge, Mattanchery on 18th July, 2010 at Mattanchery. 24 Charles Allen Lawsen, British and Native Cochin, New Delhi, 2007, p.127-128.

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    Onnaramundu. It is a large piece of cloth worn tightly round the loins

    and then round the legs separately and tucked in at the back and on

    the right side. They used to wear an outer garment called mundu. The

    upper part of the body was covered by the bodice and the blouse.

    The Antharjanams or the Nambutiri women were dressed in a

    particular style. A long white cloth is fastened round the loins, a

    portion of it, passing between the legs and reaching below the knee

    and also covering the breast. The Antharjanams or Akathamma, the

    Nambutiri women, did not wear dress properly when they were at

    home. But when they go out they cover themselves up with a long

    piece of cloth and left only the head and feet exposed. When they go

    out, they used marakuda, an umbrella made of palm leaves, to cover

    the face and the body25

    25 Interview with Smt. Devaki Antharjanam at her residence, Nalpadi Illam, at Trippunithura on 24th June, 2010.


    It does not mean that all the Brahmins had a common system of

    dressing and differences could be found among the various groups of

    them. The Tamil Brahmin women in the regional state of Kochi, for

    instance, did wear differently from that of their Malayali counterparts.

    Their dress consists of a blouse and a sari called pudava which was

    coloured cloth measuring about eight metres length and 1.35 metres

    width. They held three or four folds of the cloth together on the left

    side of the loins, while the rest of it is passed between the legs, and the

    remaining portion after passing twice or round the loin is carried over

    the right shoulder after covering the breast.

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    The dressing of the Gowda Saraswath Brahmin women also

    differed from the rest of the Brahmins. Their dress consists of a mere

    sari reaching the ankles and the blouse26. The differences could also be

    found among the non-Hindu communities. The Christian women

    usually wear sari, but the end of the sari did not pass through the legs

    and tucked up behind as did by the Nair women. They covered the

    upper part of the body by using the jacket. It is also noted that the

    Christian woman has a tight-fitting jacket, made with three openings

    just large enough to admit her head and arms. The same dress is often

    worn without removal for a fortnight, and then perhaps, though not

    certainly, she bathes and puts on purer garments. On Sunday, at

    church, she wears a large muslin veil over her head and shoulders27

    When it comes to the dressing style of the ordinary Muslim

    women we can find that they use dark blue cloth reaching from the

    waist to the ankles and a loose jacket of thick white cloth with long


    . It

    deserves special mention since the backward caste groups in the state

    did not have the permission to cover their breast earlier.

    28. They had a specific cloth used to cover their head since it

    was directed by their religious belief and this small cloth has been

    falling over the shoulders. The Jewish women use a red coloured

    loin cloth and a jacket to cover the upper part of the body29

    26 Interview with Sathyabhama Kammath, a senior member of Konkani family of Iringalakuda, in her residence Sivasakti on 2nd January, 2011. 27 Charles Allen Lawsen, Op.cit. p.61. 28 Ibid, p.289. 29 Interview with Sarah Cohn Cohn,aged 86, a white Jew residing at Jew Street, Mattanchery, on 3rd June 2010.

    . Unlike

    other religious groups, the Jews were known for their aristocratic

    dressing style. They used a gold or silver belt from which a bunch of

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    eys is sometimes suspended. They used to cover their heads with a

    veil which falls over the shoulders. Unlike the black Jews, the white

    Jews wear western costumes.

    The above description about the dressing style of the various

    communities and caste groups in the regional state of Kochi refers to

    the general picture, but we can find certain exception to this

    generalization. The educated young women belonged to all castes, for

    instance, did not follow their traditional dressing style. Instead, they

    adopted a general type of dressing prevalent in other parts of the

    country. They used the modern attires during festival occasions. But

    it is observed that when they grew older, they preferred to revert to

    the traditional forms of dress. Hair dressing, during the period, also

    deserves special mention. It was a normal practice to comb the hair

    and tie it behind in a knot. It is noted that plaited tails and pony tails

    were the two attractive styles of hair dressing in vogue among the

    young women30

    Ornamentation has an important place in the life of the people.

    The assumption that women have great passion for personal

    decoration rather than men is not always true. Although it may be

    said that women naturally inclined towards jewellery more than men.

    The kind of ornaments used by the rich and the poor may differ.

    While poor used simple ornaments made of silver, copper and brass,

    the rich ones were fond of dazzling and beautiful ornaments made of

    precious stones and gold. The use of personal ornaments from very



    30 Ibid., p.289.

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    early times in India and their state of advancements are corroborated

    by literary evidences as well. Manasollasa, a Vijayanagara text,

    furnishes a catalogue of twenty nine types of jewels with their

    respective names. It describes them from the crust ornament or

    Kireeda down to the foot jewel or padajala31

    Mens ornaments consist of ear rings, usually small gold, oval

    rings called kadukkans, of which as many as four may be worn at a

    time. Finger rings of gold, silver, bell-metal or brass and amulets worn

    on a string round the waist were also used by the male folk


    The pictures and photographs with regard to social life of Kochi

    make it clear that many social groups and caste groups had the habit

    of wearing ornaments. It inspired us to make an enquiry into the

    features of the jewellery and ornaments in the regional state of Kochi.

    An analysis of many works on the regional state of Kochi has also

    revealed about the various features of ornaments and jewellery items

    produced here. They speak about various aspects like the material

    used for making ornaments, the social base of crafts men, etc.

    On the basis of an analysis about the ornaments used by the

    people in the regional state of Kochi, we can categorize them as the

    ornaments used by children, men and women. However, this is not a

    water tight categorization as many of the ornaments had been used by

    persons belonged to various age groups. Children wear gold

    necklaces or a ring tied on a string around the waist (puthumthiram)

    which is discarded before the sixth year.


    31 Briji Bhushan, Indian Jewellery, Oraments and Decorative Designs, Bombay, 1958,p.38. 32 F Fawcett, Nayars of Malabar, AES (Reprint), New Delhi, 2004,p.213.


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    Usually it was done as charm, but sometimes purely for ornaments.

    The men of some of the hill tribes wear necklaces made of beads. All

    women wear ear rings. The thoda, a boss shaped hollow cylinder of

    gold or guilt from an inch to an inch and a half or more in diameter is

    the characteristic ornament.

    The women in the regional state of Kochi, as elsewhere, were

    fond of using ornaments of various kinds. Although women of lower

    castes were restricted in using ornaments, it is noticed that it (thoda) is

    also worn by thiyya women and the lower caste33. The gold beads

    were worn in the outer edge of the ear mainly by the thiyyatis, who

    sometimes have twenty or thirty of them in each ear. The koradu is

    another ornament used by the thiyyan and it consists of a kind of gold

    button fixed in the upper part of the ear. We can see that there are

    many other varieties of ornaments worn by the Mukkuvans and other

    castes. Gold necklace of various kinds of ten coins, finger rings and

    bracelets are also very generally worn by Nair women, and the richer

    women of the lower castes34

    The royal family of Kochi had enjoyed considerably great

    position in the then society. The dressing styles and ornaments used

    by them have of great significance. The female members of the royal

    family did keep their hair in knots either like men on the side as a

    kuduma or on top or at the back of neck. They wore gold chain with

    . The Cherumis and women of jungle

    castes wear a profusion of bead and shell necklaces, and bracelets of

    brass or glass.

    33 C.A.Innes, Malabar Gazetteers (Vol.I & II), Kerala Gazetteers Department (Reprint), Thiruvananthapuram, 1997,p.144. 34 A comprehensive list of ornaments used in Kochi could be found in S.K.Vasanthan, Op.Cit.,,p.104.

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    pendant, muthumala (pearl necklace) intrically carved gold bangle. The

    ornaments of the royal family included nagapatam or necklace

    designed in golden rubies, traditional gold pendant with image of God

    etc. We can see that in certain occasions the senior most sister of the

    reigning king wore a signature piece of neckwear which we cannot

    find elsewhere. This is found only one in the four families. One of the

    specificities of the royal family was an ornament of ten strands and

    avalmala35. The uniqueness of the ornaments used by the members of

    the royal family has already been applaueded by certain scholars36.

    The members of the Kochi royal family did wear thodas,

    gourisankaramala, muthumala and oddyanam fitted with diamond and


    The Hill Palace museum at Thrippunithura is housed with the

    important ornaments and jewellery items used by the members of the

    ersthwhile royal family of Kochi. The most important among them is

    the royal crown adorned with precious stones like green, Emerald,

    Red Ruby and diamonds. The crown was presented to Unniraman

    Coil II, the Raja of Kochi, by Francisco De Almeida, the Viceroy of the

    Portuguese, as a token of gratitude for the arrangements of trade. This

    glittering crown, weighing about 1.75kg of gold, is still attracting

    thousands of visitors. Thuraibalibandham, worn by the king as

    headgear instead of royal crown, is another important exhibit.

    . By 1900, the ladies of the royal family began to wear wrist

    watch and waist belt in addition to the traditional jewellery and they

    began to use various hair adornments.

    35 R.T.Ravi Varma, Rajavamsam :Thrippunitura Smaranakal, Kottayam,2010,p.33. 36 M.V.Benni, Maana Kuladhanam (Mal.), in M.K.Sanu (ed.),Op.Cit.,p.41. 37 P.K.Gopi, Op.Cit.,p.77.

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    Gourishankaramala is another exhibit. This garland was made from

    rudraksha with a locket in which a small gold ideal of gourishankar is


    The Nambutiris constitute the next important caste in the society

    of Kochi. The Nambutiris had finger rings made of gold and often set

    with precious stones, of which one pattern is considered sacred and

    necessary on religious occasions. This is the pavithram which is of

    gold and of the thickness of an ordinary finger ring with an 8 like

    figure work on it, with dots on each side of it, while the rest is either

    worked in line or in plain. In lieu of this, some times pavithrams made

    of darbha grass are put on while performing religious ceremonies. The

    Nambutiris also wear necklaces called rudraksha. Nambutiri women

    were restricted in using the ornaments. Even then, the nambutiri

    women in the regional state of Kochi had used bangles made of bell-

    metal or brass

    . Veerasrunkhala, another exhibit, is a symbol of valour and

    was presented to the king. Oddyanam is an ornament worn by the

    female members of the family as a waist band. Manimala, cresent

    model chain, serpent hood gold chain, avalmala, rudraksha chain,

    bangle with ruby, ear rings, lockets etc., are some of the other

    important items exhibited in the Hill Palace museum.


    38 V. Manmadhan Nair (ed.), Hill Palace-Thrippunithura, Thiruvananthapuram, 2003, p.34. 39 L.K.Anantha Krishna Iyer, Tribes and Castes of Cochin, (Vol.II), Madras, 1912, p.283.

    . They wear rings on the fingers. A peculiar kind of

    necklace called cheruthali is also worn and beneath this elite nambutiri

    women wear garlands of mani-s or gold pieces along with other jewels

    known as karumalapatta and kazhuthila. The general practice among

    the Kshatriya women was that they did not wear nose rings. They

    wear ear rings which were commonly called as thoda. It was made of

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    gold and its shape was similar to the circular wooden blocks which the

    girls use for distancing of their ear lobes40

    The hill-tribes, being an important segment of the Kochi state,

    did wear ornaments which were differed from that of the mainstream

    society. The nattumalayans constituted an important section of the

    hill-tribes. Their head man wore the silver bangle, given by the Raja,

    to denote the symbol of rank and superiority over his fellow

    tribesmen. The earlobes of all of them are bore and sufficiently dilated

    to contain either lead discs or rolled palm leaf discs. The daughter of

    the headman used to wear a gilt thoda. Some wear nose rings. A neck


    The next important group in the society of Kochi was the Nairs.

    The Nair women were fond of jewellery. The oldest ornament of the

    nair women was nagapatam or serpents hood, so called from the shape

    of the pendant. The ear- ornament they used was the thoda, which is a

    double convex disc, the front of which is either plain or set with rubies,

    for the wearing of which the ear-lobes were sufficiently dilated. The

    ornament they used for the nose was called as mukkuthi and nathu.

    They used various ornaments for the neck and the commonest was

    called as addiyal. The other ornaments used by the nair women for the

    neck were called as yanthram, poothali and avilmala. The children wore

    pulinakham. The maidens wore palakkamothiram. They used rings of

    all types.

    40 Interview with Smt.Devaki Antharjanam , at her residence, Nalpadi Illam at Thrippunithura on 24th June, 2010.

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    lace of brass and glass beads forms their chief ornament for the neck.

    Some wear brass, iron, and bell-metal bangles and brass rings41

    The males in the Valan caste wear gold ear rings and rings for

    their fingers. The womenfolk of the caste also wear ear rings. The


    The konga malayans were the next group among the hill tribes.

    Brass and rolled palm leaf discs form their ear ornaments, and they

    wear necklaces of brass beads for the neck and a bell-metal rings or

    metti round the second toe of each foot. The Eravallen comes next in

    the group of hill tribes. The male wear round the neck a necklace of

    small white beads and it was to distinguish from the Malayans. Some

    wear brass and finger rings. The women wear ear ornaments which

    are made of a long palmyra leaf rolled into a disc, and the ear lobes are

    sufficiently dilated to contain them.

    The Nayadis, a prominent group among the hill tribes, did have

    their own ornaments. The Nayadi men wear ear rings of brass and also

    wear charms round the arms or loins to cure diseases or protect

    themselves from the attack of demons. The lobes of the ears of

    women in the group of nayadis are dilated to contain wooden plugs

    which serve as thodas or ear-rings. They used to wear several strings of

    beads with shells and pendants round the neck and they did not

    remove them even after the death of their husbands. Virgins did not

    wear any ornaments in particular. Women in the group of Ulladans

    bored and dilated their ears. But unlike other hill tribes they did not

    insert discs of palm leaves in the holes. They wear black thread and

    necklaces made of glass beads.

    41 L.K.AnanthaKrishna Iyer, Op.Cit.,p.393.

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    method of making hole for ear rings was lasted long and they had to

    suffer a lot of pain. When the children are a year old, their ears are

    pierced by using a small quill and they inserted a piece of cotton

    thread or a bit of wood into the hole. By applying coconut oil they

    could heal the wound and they replaced cotton thread with bit of lead.

    When the hole is enlarged they put in a piece of plantain, coconut or

    palmyra leaf into it. They continued it when the size increased to an

    inch in diameter and then used the ear rings which, they believed,

    would enhance the beauty of the women. As a general practice, they

    did not wear ornaments before marriage, but in some instances, they

    wear it up to the birth of a child. They used rings to adorn fingers and

    bangles to ornate the fore-arms. Their ornaments included necklaces

    of various types.

    The women among the pulayas did have their own ornaments.

    Their ears sufficiently dilated to contain wooden plugs by side of

    which there is another small hole contain ten to fifteen small iron

    rings. It is noticed that this practice was prevalent among the Pulaya

    women of Chalakkudi42

    In the regional state of Kochi we can find people belong to

    various religious communities other than the Hindus. They include

    Jews, Syrian Christians and Muslims. The Jews and the Syrian

    Christians lived in the region of Kochi had their own jewels and

    ornaments. Most of their ornaments were brought from their own

    . They also wear a necklace of glass beads,

    manufactured by the Europeans, round the neck. They also wear

    armlets made of brass.

    42 Ibid.,p.123.

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    homeland and they modified their ornaments by absorbing designs

    from Kochi. The Jews who lived in the region of Kochi had the habit

    of wearing various kinds of necklaces and some of which were made

    of Venetian sequins. As a general practice married women among the

    Jews leave of their ornaments after the birth of their second child. The

    male among the Jews did not wear any ornaments except a ring in the


    The mappilas did wear ornaments of various kinds. The

    differences in terms of financial position, was evident in the ornaments

    of the mappilas. Poor among the mappilas did wear necklaces made of

    coral and bead. They inserted coiled silver wire into the upper part of

    the ear. But the wealthy people among the mappilas used a wide


    Even though, it was a general practice among the Hindu male to

    pierce the ear to wear earrings, the male among the Syrian Christians

    did not wear any such ear ornaments. The Romo-Syrians wear a small

    cross suspended from a string, passing round the neck. The women

    bore their ears in several places and wear a kind of heavy guilt brass

    rings called melkamothiram at top of each ear. The earlobes are by

    means of lead weights, very much dilated by Syrian Christian women

    when quite young to wear a U shaped ornament at the time of their

    wedding but not afterwards. They have a necklace of scorts,

    (Ottezhapattak, Kombu, Thala, and Nazhi). They wore rings of various

    kinds in fingers and anklets. But they avoided using many of these

    ornaments after first or second delivery.

    43 Interview with Sarah Cohn Cohn, aged 86, a white Jew, in her residence at Jew Street, Mattanchery on 18th July,.2010.

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    variety of ornaments. Both men and women wear a coral round the

    waists with two or three times of cylindrical shapes made of silver or

    brass in which they keep rolls of paper with passages of Koran as

    charms. Often a few gold fanams or other small coins are kept in the

    same receptacle. Incredibly large sums of money are spent on female

    ornaments. For the neck, there are five or six sorts. These are besides

    long rows of armlets, bracelets and bangles and anklets. All are made

    of gold. It is noted that as many as ten to fourteen holes are pierced in

    each ear. The former is artificially widened and a long string of

    ornaments of beautiful manufacture is suspended through it. A strict

    Sunni of the Shafi School was not permitted from piercing the nose.

    Professionally the Tamil Brahmins did teach Vedas and also

    performed religious and sacred duties in the temples. It also provided

    them powerful material backing enough to ensure a superior social

    position. Unlike women in the other caste groups, women among the

    Tamil Brahmins wear several ornaments made of gold. They had

    ornaments for head, nose, ears, neck, arms, fingers, waist and feet.

    Jatasingara was a gold ornament used by the Tamil Brahmins to

    decorate their hair.

    An ornament, used by the Tamil Brahmins, shaped like a

    hooded serpent, placed at the back of the crown is called as Nagar.

    They also used some ornaments called as thazhambu, koppu and jadaelli

    to ornate their head. Rakkudi was another ornament used by them to

    decorate their head. Jimiki is a pendant in the shape of an inverted cup

    made of gold and decorated with rubies all over and clusters of pearls

    hanging from the bottom. Their important and most common ear

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    ornament is named as kammal or olai. The ornament for nose called as

    bulakku was made of gold and set with rubies or diamonds. This

    ornament was used by girls and women of middle age.

    The circular ring with called nathu was set with pearls and

    rubies. They wear mukkuti in the right nostril. Kodi is the string of

    gold with the tali worn round the neck. Kasumala is a garland of coins

    worn round the neck. It is observed that the number of coins varies

    from fifty to a hundred44

    Jewellery like manimala, muthumala, pathakam or the pendant,

    kasimala, and other such traditional neckwear were common. The

    traditional jewellery was mostly made of fine gold work. As stones

    had great importance in terms of its astrological significance, they

    were worn with lot of discretion. Rubies and jade were the more

    common stones seen. Married women did wear tali which was

    different in shape from other caste. A two piece joined by a separate

    gold piece was the traditional tali, and varieties of it were seen as

    being used by some royal women. Women did insert thoda or a kind

    . It is presented to the bride at the time of

    wedding. Karai, consists of a stiff gold wire with ten or twelve gold

    beads on each side of the hook, was worn by the children and young

    women. Kappu is the gold bracelet used by them. The wristlet

    prevalent among the Tamil Brahmins is called as pattil. The glass

    bangle is called as kankana or valai. The bangle worn round the upper

    arm is called as vanki and it is made of gold. Metti is a plain silver ring

    worn round the second toe of each foot. Golussu is another silver

    ornament worn round each leg.

    44 L.K.Anantha Krishna Iyer, Op.cit.,p.341.

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    of earpiece, in their earlobes and bangles and anklets were commonly


    In the regional state of Kochi, the various caste groups had their

    own styles of dressing and each of them established their identity by

    sticking on their own dressing styles. The ornaments used in the

    regional state of Kochi have underlined the presence of great

    craftsmanship. Many of the ornaments of the period still survive and

    they are indicative to their greatness. In brief, Kochi has its own

    cultural trends, dress pattern and various ornaments. But it differs

    from class to class and from caste to caste. The aristocracy has its own

    peculiar customs and manners in all aspects. It was imitated by lower

    groups also.