Tamil origin artisans make Onavillu to Padmanabha for 300 yrs
Thiruvananthapuram: With Onam festival just two days away, a traditional artisan family is busy preparing 'Onavillu', a ceremonial bow to be dedicated to Lord Sree Padmanabha,as part of a three-century-old tradition.
The members of Vaniyammoola Vilayil family in Karmana here, whose ancestors migrated to erstwhile Travancore from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, are making the artistic offering at the famous Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple on the auspicious 'Thironam' day, which falls on September 4 this year.
Considered sacred by devotees, the 'villu' is a bow shaped wooden panel with paintings on both sides with themes like 'Ananthasayanam', the mythical serpent Aanantha, 'Dashavataram', incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Sreerama Pattabhishekam, anointing of Lord Rama as King and so on.
The demand for Onavillu has been increasing among devotees every year as they believe that it is auspicious to keep it in home and will bring prosperity.
According to the family, erstwhile king Marthanda Varma had given them the right for the 'Onavillu' dedication at the royal temple on the Onam day and they have been continuing the tradition for the last 300 years.
After observing a rigorous 'vrata' (abstinence from worldly pleasures) for 41 days and reciting mantras, they make six pairs of 'Onavillu' to be dedicated to the deity.
They also make the ceremonial bow to be distributed among devotees according to the demand.
Binu Kumar Achary, a senior family member, said work of the Onavillu for this year's edication ceremony is in the final stages. "As per custom,we used to keep the ceremonial bows at our family temple here for three days before they were taken to Sree Padmanabha Temple. All six pairs of bows will be dedicated to Lord Padmanbha on Thiruonam day morning," he told PTI.
Besides Binu, four of his siblings are also involved in making the sacred bows. They all gather at their family workshop, shunning mundane pleasures and dedicate the whole period for its making, he said.
Belonging to the Viswakarama community (artisans and sculptors), the family had played a key role in designing and carving the magnificent sculptures at the Padmanabha Temple during the time of its rebuilding in 18th century.
"According to the family history, King Marthanda Varma, who rebuilt the Padmanabha Temple in the present stature, had brought and settled down our ancestors here," he said.
Giving details about its making, the craftsman said the wood of mahogany or kadambu is used for the base panel.
The wood is cut and chiselled into thin slabs of up to 4.5 feet length and paintings are done on it. Only natural dyes made of plant leaves, white sand and finely powdered stones are used to make them.
Varnish is the only chemical used to give the panel a final finishing.
"The style of murals is adopted in the painting. But we are not following the traditions of Kerala murals but that of Tamil Nadu temple paintings," he said.
The Lord Padmanabha Temple shot to international fame after priceless treasures were found in it's secret vaults in the year 2013.
Lord Padmanabha is the presiding deity of the Tranvacore royal family which managed the shrine for long time.
An architectural marvel, the temple witnesses heavy rush during Onam season. It has also become a major tourist spot in the state capital. PTI