Come the month of Karkkatakam—July 16-August 16 this year—and Malayalam newspapers trip on each other to publish photos of senior ladies sitting in old family mansions, reading Thunjathu Ezhuthachan’s Adhyathma Ramayanam to children. I remember a far more plural scene when I think of Hindu faith in my Malayali Sudra family.
There were family members so devoted to Siva that they flinched at the very mention of the names of Vishnu. Some preferred Vishnu or Krishna. But Ayyappa, the fruit of the union of Siva and Vishnu, and Velayudha, the son of Siva and Parvathi, found great favour among the Sudras of our locality. There were rivalries between the Siva devotees of Vaikom and Ettumaanur. Or between the devotees of Guruvayurappan and the Ambalappuzha Sreekrishna. There were relatives who were Sakti worshippers and senior uncles who became Siddhas and practised spirituality in a way that left most of us in awe (the leading lights of Kerala’s spiritual liberation from Brahminism would arise from this stream).