The Appearance of the Auspicious Eagle, Krishna Parunthu (23)

24/12/2011 History of Lord Ayyappa

Although the Petta-thullal of pilgrims reaching Erumeli from various places, takes place on all days during the pilgrimage season; according to age-old tradition, the Petta-thullal of two major groups of pilgrims, one from Ambalapuzha and the other from Alangad, will be performed only on the 27th of Malayalam month, Dhanu (around the 11th January). These groups represent the two major militia of warriors from Ambalapuzha and Alangad (a place near Kodungallur) who had accompanied Ayyappa during his confrontation with the brigand chief Udayanan.

The Petta-thullal of the Ambalapuzha group takes place in the morning. They would assemble in front of the Kochambalam with caparisoned elephants, various musical instruments and other paraphernalia suited to the occasion ready for the Petta-thullal. However, the ritualistic dance would start only if a special phenomenon occurs. This may appear strange to a rational mind. But every year, the group would, in all preparedness wait for the appearance of a bird known in Malayalam as Krishna Parunthu, which is a variety of eagle with a white patch under the body and held sacred as the auspicious mount of Lord Vishnu. Only after sighting the bird they would start the Petta-thullal.

To study this phenomenon of the eagle’s appearance, we had been to Erumeli on one such occasion on the particular day. With some anxiety of having been late, we reached the place about 11.20 a.m., but were relieved to find that thousands were waiting on the terraces of the buildings scanning the skies for the Krishna Parunthu. There were no birds in the vast space except for some darting crows. We waited there for about ten minutes. Then, suddenly loud invocations of ‘Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa’ rent the air. We saw high up in the skies, above the Kochambalam, the Krishna Parunthu making rounds. It seemed as if the bird appeared all of a sudden from the depths of the skies. After a few rounds, it descended a little, flew straight towards the east and disappeared from sight. Then the Petta-thullal of the Ambalapuzha array of pilgrims began.

It was a very colourful event with three caparisoned elephants carrying the idols of the Deities. As a custom, one of the caparisoned elephants and the pilgrims in the procession entered the mosque of Vaavar, as the Muslims from the top of the mosque showered flowers on them. The elephant and the pilgrims then circumambulated the mosque. Emerging out, the Petta-thullal proceeded to the Valiambalam to end there.

Another major Petta-thullal, which is conducted by the group of pilgrims from Alangad, takes place the same day afternoon. And on this occasion, as has been witnessed by many every year, a star will be visible in broad day light.

Related Articles