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Kozhikkode Tali Temple

The Tali Shiva Temple at Calicut (Kozhikode) is redolent of some of the glorious chapters in the history of old Kerala. It reminds you of the life and polity of the State in days gone by and of the glory of the great Zamorins who were among the most cultured and accomplished sovereigns of Kerala. Tali is a term generally applied to a Shiva temple and, like all Kerala temples, Kozhikode Tali was an independent sanctuary which belonged to Brahmins. In those days Kerala consisted of a number of temple-states and village republics belonging to Brahmins. In the temple-state the Lord was regarded as the head and everything was done in his name. The territory under their rule was called a sanketam.

History of Tali Temple
The Zamorins was closely associated with three temples; Tiruvalayanad, Thirunavaya and Kozhikode Tali. Their empire dates back to the installation of Porkhali Bhagawati at Tiruvalayanad. The Mamankam at Tirunelveli was a twelve-yearly demonstration of their imperial pomp and pageant. The annual Revathi Pattathanam at Tali was a seven-day feast of learning, comparable to the Vid-vasadas of Janaka of Videha.

The Zamorin naturally flew into a rage and seized the Tali temple, by force in spite of the resistance of the Nambudiris who in those days were also doughty warriors. Many were killed by the Zamorin`s men and their bodies were dragged and thrown on the mound now called Sugam (Durgam) nearby.

Some gramams were also administered by kazha-kams or Advisory Boards, each under an officer called the Taliatiri. These villages were known as Talis, of which the important ones numbered eighteen. Among them Kozhikode Tali was the most famous.

However this Tali was not founded by the Zamorin. As stated earlier, it belonged to fifty Nambudiri families of the Tali gramam. They also ran a Vedic Pathshala or school at Salapuram, now called Chalapuram. They maintained intimate and cordial relations with their ruler, Porlatiri, the men even having sambandham or liaison with the thampurattis or princesses of the royal family.

Their territory was besieged and invaded by the Zamorin sometime about A. D. 1200. With the occupation of Calicut by the Zamorin, Porlatiri was expelled from his land. Naturally, the Nambudiris of Tali did not like this and were very unhappy.

The Kofattiris of Chirakkal were the allies of Porlatiri and the enemies of the Zamorin. The story goes that the Tali Nambudiris helped a Kolattiri prince to smuggle himself into the Zamorin`s palace in the guise of a Brahmin. A Thampuratti fell in love with him. And when the romance could no longer be concealed, the lovers fled, with the connivance of the Namboodiri.

According to another version, the Brahmins resorted to pattini or fast unto death seating them on the top of the Sugam. The Zamorin was however firm. They had helped his enemy and they brought dishonor on the royal family, making the sovereign a laughing-stock of all Kerala. He refused to submit to what he regarded as pure political blackmail, however holy or high its authors might be. Thus the misguided Brahmins were allowed to die.

The temple did not suffer in any way by the change in management. But the death of the Brahmins cast its dismal shadow. The palace astrologers found an easy explanation for any anishtam or unpleasant event in the Zamorin`s family from common cold to natural bereavement and insisted upon the expiation of this sin of Brahmahatya or slaughter of Brahmins. At last on the advice of Kolkunnathu Sivankal, the Zamorin instituted the annual Pattattanam in A.D.1309-1310 at the Tali temple.

Festivals of Tali Temple
There are five puja’s every day here and three siavelis or processions of the deity. Namajapam or repeating of the Lord`s names is also conducted daily in the evenings as also Bhagavata saptaham annually. The annual Utsavam begins on Vishnu day (Kerala New Year`s day) and lasts for 7 days. On the 8th day the Arattu or bathing ceremony is held.

The pattini is said to have taken place in the month of Thulam (October-November) and it lasted for seven days from Revati or the twenty-eighth asterism to Thiru-vatira, the sixth asterism, when the last of the Nambudiris who fasted passed away.

It consisted of a feast for seven days corresponding to the duration of the fast, from Revathi in Thulam to the following Thiruvatira, at the end of which the Bhattas or Brahmins, learned in the smritis and sastras, were each given a purse containing 101 fanams, which was equivalent to 360 paras or measures of paddy and which was enough to maintain one in all decency. This was a sort of annual pension and once granted it could be received by proxy on the principal`s behalf.

Renovations of Tali Temple
The present temple was built by Manavikraman the great. Like several other temples in Kerala the Tali temple also, which was subjected to spoliation and desecration by Tipu Sultan, had been renovated at the close of the 18th century. Following a devaprasnam conducted in 1964 renovation work was again taken up and completed in 1967 with a naveekarana kalasam or purificatory rites performed on an elaborate scale. Then the installation of flag staffs had taken place for both the Shiva and Krishna shrines on March 3, 1976. In the following year, a Rig Veda laksharchana was also conducted to commemorate the historic Revathi Pattathanam which, alas, now belongs to history.

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