Thantri (High Priest) of a temple plays a key role in the affairs of any temple. The portfolio of `Mel Thantri' of Sabarimala temple is the hereditary privilege of the male members of Tazhamon Madom, Chengannur, Kerala. They ensure that the rituals and poojas at Sabarimala are conducted in accordance with established religious practices and various special norms as applicable to the Sabarimala temple. The Thantri initiates the newly appointed Mel Santhi into the rituals of the temple. He recites the `Moola Mantram' to the Mel Santhi. He constantly guides and supervises the Mel Santhi during the conduct of all poojas and other rituals.Certain rituals like Padi Pooja, Udayasthamana Pooja and Kalasa Poojas cannot be conducted unless the Thantri is present during the ceremony.
There are many legendary stories associated with the system of Thantries
Parashuram was the 4th son of Sage Jamadagni and Renuka. Bruguram or Parshuram is the grandson of the Sage Brugu and Puloma (Parashuram is the 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This is documented in ancient texts relating to the legends depicting the origin of Kerala). He learnt the art of weaponry from Lord Siva. King Karthaveerajunan was fascinated by Jamadagni's cow and demanded it. Since the Sage refused to part with the cow, the King decapitated the Sage and forcibly took the cow away.The news infuriated Parashuram and he went to Mahishmaatipura and challenged Karthaveerajunan to a duel. Parshuram defeated Karthaveerajunan and avenged his father's death. For generations, he carried on annihilations of the Kshaktriyas (the martial race).
As a mark of repentance for this sin, Parashuram meditated at Gokarna and invoked Lord Varuna (the Lord of the Oceans). Parashuram asked him for a boon. To absolve himself of the heinous crimes he had committed or as `Papa Pariharam' (repentance of previous sins) he wanted to gift some land to the brahmins. There was no land available. Lord Varuna told Parashuram that he would give him as much land as he wished. He told him to fling his traditional axe (Mazhu ) from where he stood at Gokarna. The land from Gokarna till the point where the `Mazhu' landed would be given to him was the boon that Lord Varuna promised him. The throw of the `Mazhu' from Gokarna to Kanya Kumari, the legends say, created Kerala. Parashuram donated this land to the brahmins.
In order to allow the brahmins places to follow their traditional practices, he established 108 Sivalayams, 108 Durgalayams and 5 Sastha Kshetrams,. The Siva and Vasihanava temples were established in the midlands while the Devi temples were built along the coast line. The Dharma Sastha Kshetrams were established in hilly terrains at Kulathupuzha, Aryanankavu, Achan Kovil, Sabarimala and Erumeli.
It is interesting to note that the `Pratishtas' (Idols) at these temples vary from each other in its representative forms, i.e the Kulathupuzha idol depicts Sastha as a child, Aryankavu idol depicts Sastha as young man, Achankovil idol depicts God as a Gruhasthshrami with his wives Poorna and Pushkala while the idol at Sabarimala depicts Sastha as a totally celibate God in meditation.
In order to protect and conduct rituals at these temples, from the banks of the holy river Krishna, he brought two brothers who were Tapasvis (ascetic persons who have undergone rigorous rituals of Tapas). This was sometime in the year 301 AD. The rights of Thantries were conferred on these two brothers of the families of Thazhamon and Tharananallur. Thazhamon family was given hereditary rights to the the Dharam Sastha temples while the Tharananallur family was given hereditary rights to the other temples. In order to distinguish who has the rights to which temple, the horizontal staff of the Holy Flag Post (Kodimaram) of each temple controlled by the Thazhamon family points to the North, while that of Tharananallur family points to the South.
As to how the names Thazhamon and Taranalaur came into being, here is the story:-
When Parashuram was escorting these two elected pure brahmins to the new land of Kerala, he came across a river. He thought it an ideal time to test the abilities of the two brahmins. He asked both to cross the river. The first one walked across the water. `Taranam' in Sanskrit means `traverse' or `cross'. Because he traversed the water, he and his successors earned the name of `Tarananallur'. The second brahmin made the waters part and traversed through the river bed. `Thazhamon' means the sand at the bottom. He and his successors earned the name of `Thazhamon`and the title of `Kantar'. Thazhamon Madom thantries were given charge of the Sastha temples while the Tarananallur thantires were assigned to the Devi temples, especially in north Kerala.
Along with these families, a large number of brahmins were also brought into Kerala to populate the land. Many of them returned to their original places because of the fear of Nagas (serpents) prevalent in the terrains of Kerala. Parasuraman fetched them back and exhorted them to transform their `kudumi' (bundled hair knot worn on the head) from the rear to the front to signify that they will never run away. He also asked them to change their method of wearing their dhoti from the their usual style( a style of dhoti wearing where one loose end is pulled between the legs from front and tied behind) to a new method of wearing it in a fashion where the dhoti is tied to the right (with the right end overlapping the left end)
The Recent Generation of Thantries
|Late Kantaru Krishnanaru||
Late Kantaru Vasudevararu
|Late Kantaru Parameshwararu||Late Kantaru Sankararu.|
|Late Kantaru Krishanaru||Late Kantaru Neelakantaru||Kantaru Maheswararu (Senior most living thantri)||Advocate Krishnanasan
As a result of an inter-caste marriage, lost the hereditary rights.
|No further male progeny||Son|
Currently, Kantaru Maheswararu is the senior most tantri or `karanavan' of Thazhamon Madom. The rights of `tantrihood' in all the Kerala temples, which have the 'Kodimaram' or `Flag Staff' pointing to the north is held by Thazhamon Madom.
A soft spoken and genteel man, he passed away on 19th December 2005 at 0720 hrs at Chengannur. He was 84 yrs old. He had been admitted in to a private hospital 14 days prior to his demise. Kantaru Mohanaru and Kantaru Rajjevaru lit the funeral pyre. All cremation rites were conducted by Kanatru Rajeevaru.
The present idol of Lord Ayyappa was installed during `Atham' in the month of Edvom in the year 1950 (English Calendar). The installation ceremony was conducted by Kanataru Sankararu. Kantaru Neelakantaru was also actively involved in the installation rituals. In fact, since the age of 20, Kantaru Neelakantaru has been taking part in tantri karmanagal. For the last six decades, he had been an intrinsic part of any special occasion at Sannidhanam. He has also conducted the rituals in connection with the widening of the `Pathinettam Padi' and covering the Holy Steps with gold. Other special occasions in which he was the main tantri include installation of the golen `kodi maram' and the `Kumbhabhishekham' which was performed in the year 2002.
He had performed idol installation ceremonies in many temples in India and abroad.
Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham wishes to convey its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family members, especially his wife Mrs Santhkumari Antharjanam.
May Lord Ayyappa rest his soul in eternal peace.
|Thantri Kantar Maheswararu.
Phone: (Res) +91-479-452821
Thantri Kantar Mohanaru
|Thantri Kantar Rajeevaru
Phone: (Res) +91-479-
|Mahesh Mohan , son of Kantaru Mohanaru is
future thantri of the next generation.
The common postal address of all thantries is:-
Thazhamon Madom, Mundencavu, Chengannur PO, Kerala 689121, India
The roster of Thantris is decided on an annual basis by the thantries themselves.
The Web Master
If there are any factual inaccuracies, I seek forgiveness. Please point them out to me because the development of a web site is a never ending saga of errors, omissions and pitfalls.
the homepage of the Sabarimala Thantris at :-
Other Holders of Certain Hereditary Rights
Responsibility for conducting certain other rituals like Nayattu Vili and Kalamezhuthu at the Mani Mandapam also devolve on members of specific families based on hereditary rights. These have been mentioned in the page Traditional Festivities at Sannidhanam during the Festival Season.
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