Thuvayal Thavasu

Last updated

Thuvayal Thavasu, literally washing penance, was a significant religious event that took place in the 19th century. It was also called as thuvayal panthi. (panthi means an arrangement of people in a row for meals during feasts). By the late thirties of the nineteenth century, when the religion of Ayyavazhi had come to exist with certain excitement and euphoria, a group of people, of different age groups and genders, undertook to perform this unique exercise as directed by Lord Vaikundar.

Participants of this exercise seem to have sold out their properties in a manner of renunciation, at half of their value. And, with a bare minimum of means of livelihood, they had gone to a place near the eastern seashore, know presently as Vakaippathi, situated at about four kilometers to the north of Cape Comorin. They camped there together and performed the following actions in a manner of a ritual: They took a bath and washed their clothes in the seawater thrice everyday and cooked vegetarian meal with raw rice and green-grams, and ate it only once a day. The manner of eating was that they took it directly with their mouth from the sandy ground where the food had been laid. They drank only the salty water and abstained from fish. Apart from washing, cooking and eating, the remaining hours were spent on spiritual exercises. They recited certain incantations taught by persons among them who had the gift of oracles. These persons instructed the group whatever they had to do. It was one of these persons that taught the group the popular incantation called Ukappatippu literally meaning ‘song of the aeon’, the recital of which, often an abridged version of it, forms part of the daily rituals of Ayyavazhi to this day.

There seems to have been some opposition to the practice of this exercise of thuvayal thavasu. There is a verse in Akilathirattu that says, the wicked violently dispersed those that participated in this thuvayal thavasu. The high caste people caused trouble and tried to disperse the participants. But the participants seem to have withstood and continued the exercise.

As per the account of Akilathirattu, the people performed this exercise for about six months. As the days passed, stinkbugs, ticks, swarming flies and other pests caused skin diseases and serious disturbances of them. People took them as test caused by Ayya Vaikundar of their faith, courage and fortitude, and withstood all the tribulations. Finally, being instructed through a persons dream, they ended the thavasu at Vakaippathi, and, went over to a place now known as Muttappathi, situated at a distance of three kilometers to the south of Vakaippathi. At Muttappathi, they spent a month in similar exercises, and stopped it only when struck by severe diseases that killed a few of them, which they read as definite sign to end the thavasu.

After ending the thavasu, the participants went back to their native places. They were received with respect and reverence, and, addressed honourably as Thuvayal pantarams They went to different places, and spread whatever they had learned from the thavasu. They were received cordially by the followers of Ayyavazhi who considered it a religious virtue to be hospitable to them. The now prevalent practice of offering food (called as thavanakanci) in Nizhal Thangals seems to have originated from this act of charity. The participants external appearance seems to have undergone a change after this exercise. Akilathirattu says that the surrounding people who witnessed them exclaimed as follows: "The dress of the Namputiri and other Brahmins have lost their shine, whereas that of the Chanar shine like the sun... See what a change has come about for Chanars. The people who awaited avidly the arrival of fish and ate it even half cooked in a greedy manner, and chewed tobacco incessantly, have transformed themselves so much!"

The LMS Report for the year 1892 puts it as: "It is true that their [the devoteed of Vikunda Swamy] bodies and their houses are more cleanly [sic] than those of the rest."

Related Research Articles

Ayya Vaikundar Indian avatar

Lord Ayya Vaikundar, known to his followers as tenth avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu, also called as Sriman Narayana Vaikundasamy or Narayana Pandaram, was a 19th-century social reformer and iconoclast who worked for the upliftment of downtrodden people in the Kingdom of Travancore. He is central to the Hindu denomination of Ayyavazhi, as per holy scripture.

Ayyavazhi South Indian dharmic belief system

Ayyavazhi is a henotheistic belief that originated in South India. It is cited as an independent monistic religion by several newspapers, government reports, journals, and academic researchers. In Indian censuses, however, the majority of its followers declare themselves as Hindus. Thus, Ayyavazhi is also considered a Hindu denomination. Officially (legally), it exists within Hinduism as a Hindu denomination.

Pathi centres of congregational worship for the South Indian religious system of Ayyavazhi

Pathi is the name of the primary centres of congregational worship for the South Indian religious system of Ayyavazhi, having a relatively large structure like that of a temple. They are seven in number.

Mutta Pathi

Mutta Pathi, is one of the Pancha pathi, which are the primary centers for worship of the Ayyavazhi. This is the third important pilgrim center of Ayyavazhi. This place earn the religious importance in Akilam from the event that, Ayya Vaikundar is given two Vinchais here by Narayana under the Sea; One just before the arrest of Vaikundar by Swathi Thirunal and the second after the completion of Thuvayal Thavasu.

Vakaippathi, one among the Panchappathis is a holy site for the People of Ayyavazhi.

Ayyavazhi mythology

Ayyavazhi mythology is the mythology of the South Indian religious faith known as Ayyavazhi, which is officially considered a Hindu sect. The main source of Ayyavazhi mythology is the Ayyavazhi scripture, Akilattirattu Ammanai, and its supplement, Arul Nool. The Akilattirattu Ammanai is a recitation by Mayon to his consort Lakshmi. It is divided into three sections: pre-incarnational events, incarnational events and post-incarnational events.

Dharma Yukam

Dharma Yukam is the state of absolute bliss as per Ayyavazhi mythology. Dharma Yukam is described in the Akilam seventeen in Akilattirattu Ammanai. It is related to Dharmic moksha and to Abrahamic heaven.

Pancha pathi

Pancha pathi are the five important pilgrim centers of Ayyavazhi. These are also considered as the primary Pathis and as worship centers of Ayyavazhi with primary status. The first pathi is Swamithope pathi itself and is the headquarters of Ayyavazhi. The other Pathis are Muttappathi, Thamaraikulam Pathi, Ambalappathi and Pooppathi.

Katuvai Sothanai

Katuvai Sothanai, in Tamil means, Trial with Tiger. This is an important event in Ayyavazhi mythology tells us about the happenings that took place when Ayya Vaikundar was thrown before a three-days-starving tiger.

Thuvayal Thavam, an act of ritual washing of one's physique and clothes along with practice of self-abnegation and self-restraint, was a practice in the religion Ayyavazhi, following the rules and regulations of Thuvayal Thavasu, held during the mid-nineteenth century in Vakaippathi according to Akilathirattu Ammanai the source of Ayyavazhi mythology.

The following outline is provided as an overview and topic guide to Ayyavazhi:

Ayyavazhi rituals

Ayyavazhi rituals are the religious practices prevalent among the followers of Ayyavazhi. Most of them are connected with Akilam and Arul Nool and a few, though not associated with the holy books, are practiced for over a century right from the beginning of Ayyavazhi. Some practices are unique for Pathis and some others are common for all worship centres.

Ayyavazhi, a belief system originating from South India, is mentioned in a number of reports by Christian missionaries in the 19th century. In some of these reports, it is claimed that Ayyavazhi is an anti-Christian religious phenomenon. The rapid growth of the London Missionary Society is heavily challenged by Ayyavazhi in Thiruvithancore, which is the most succeeded venue of LMS in India and revealed in certain reports.

Rules and regulations for God-heads (Ayyavazhi)

Ayya Vaikundar was the incarnation of Ekam according to Akilathirattu Ammanai, the religious text of Ayyavazhi and the source of Ayyavazhi mythology. As the Ekam is the supreme power in Ayyavazhi, Vaikundar was the supreme power incarnate.

Ayyavazhi symbolism

The Ayyavazhi symbolism deals with the symbols which are used in or used to represent Ayyavazhi. Though Akilam the scripture of Ayyavazhi does not point out any symbol directly, there are a few symbols which are used for representing Ayyavazhi which came into practice gradually.

Timeline of Ayyavazhi history

The purpose of this chronology is to give a detailed account of Ayyavazhi from the beginning of the incarnational events of Vaikundar to the present time. Question marks on dates indicate approximate dates. A star (*) indicates the mentioning of that particular date in Akilam or Arul Nool. All dates but a few are found in the Tamil calendar and so doesn't coincide exactly with the months of the Gregorian calendar. The dates may span over any halves of the two consecutive months (Gregorian).

Muthiri kinaru

Muthiri Kinaru is the sacred well located in the north-western corner of Swamithoppe village. This is the famous theertha of the temple. It is located half a kilometre west from the main Pathi.

Ayyavazhi Dharma

The Akilathirattu Ammanai the scripture of Ayyavazhi teaches Dharma on two different perspective. One in sociology as charity and truth and another under spirituality to attain the stage of Oneness, unified into Lord Vaikundar. This state of ultimate oneness is called as Dharma Yukam or Dharma Pathi. Akilam also says that, Dharma is the only living wheel. The sociological way is asked to be followed by every one to attain the spiritual state of Dharma.

Ayyavazhi ethics

The ethics of Ayyavazhi are found scattered throughout the primary scripture, Akilathirattu Ammanai. They are also integrated with the meta-narrative mythography. However, regarding ethics, Arul Nool is considered as an accumulation and prophecy of the core concepts found in Akilathirattu. In Akilathirattu, the ethical abstracts are pointed out as "told by God" at several places at different situations to lesser god-heads, devas, saints etc. when asked by them.

Swamithope Pathi

Swamithoppe Pathi is the primary pathi of the Ayyavazhi, the head of all Worship centers of Ayyavazhi, and the sacred venue of the Tavam. Religiously Swamithope is considered primary among the Pancha pathi and the primary centre of the incarnational activities of Vaikundar.

References