That position is reserved for the local deities like Nenjappan, Mathapadevva and Siddhappan.”Sita, believe the Adiyas, called for the intervention of the local gods when her twin sons tied up the Ashwamedha horse let loose by Rama to establish his imperial might.
The boys, according to local legend, also tied Rama and Lakshmana to a tree.
Tharuvana’s book has just been made into an award-winning documentary and was shown recently at a seminar at the history department of Delhi University.
It reaffirms the point made so strongly by scholar and poet AK Ramanujan in his much-debated essay, that the Ramayana has always been open to interpretation by the communities that own it.
A good 18% of Wayanad’s population is adivasi and they are divided into around 12 communities – Adiya, Kurichiya, Kurumar, Karimbalan and Chetti among them – many of which migrated from neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Like most tribal pockets in India, they have been subject to denial of human rights across Kerala as the recent story on the lynching in Attapady showed.
Since the adivasis here led a fairly insular life up until recently, and Wayanad itself is sealed in by its geography, the stories are all set in a 40 sq km area stretching from Muthanga and Pulpalli, according to Tharuvana.
Valmiki’s ashram is in Ashramkoly and Sita is believed to have gone plucking flowers in Irulam (place of darkness).
Tharuvana has an explanation for this unique story: the Adiyas had for generations been slave labourers for landlords in Thrisseleri and Thirunelli in Wayanad, and Kodagu in neighbouring Karnataka.
Being bullied and thrown out of their homes and lands was a familiar story. “The rich people exhibited their wealth by bringing exquisite clothes in bullock carts and buffalo carts,” says the recounting of an Adiya Ramayanam story in Tharuvana’s book, .