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Tales Of Parari

A travel and culture piece.

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10 Oct '23
8 min read


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There is this incessant tug to a story or a place that nurtures a story. The narrative and the person narrating a story almost always have a close connection to the source of the story. Hence, a story and storytelling are such encaptivating traits that they trap a listener in a sweet state of calm nourishment. This story and love for ‘tales of a place’ are what drew me to Parari after hearing about its grandiosity from the grandchildren’s generation of the ‘House Parari’. 

Road to Parari, a bewildering name might I add is from Charmadi- Ujjire- Dharmastha- Parari. If you are wondering, it's on the western ghats of Karnataka.  It's a lush green blanket. The details and the magnanimity of the plants are a stellar sight. It engulfed the entire region unapologetically. It defines the space with personality as an enthralling character to the onlooker's eyes.

The blues of the sky highlight the canopy and give it a contrasting touch. Life is in the merger of the greens and the blues. The altitude of the place with newly introduced rubber trees transforms the place into otherworldly beauty. It's hard to describe the synchronicity of these rubber trees blanketing the mountains like it's embracing the ups and downs with such grace and charm that they belittle anything that says less. The way rubber plants envelop the space is a mirror of a perfect composition where the musical notes incite exuberance and dance into the onlooker's eyes. They are surrounded by these empty peep-through spaces that give a glimpse into the far-off western ghat's valleys which are majestic in their own sense that, it is impossible to capture its gait and existence. This is the preclude to Parari - a place of mystery but a space of abundant curiosity. 

Parari in Tulu is “Par-Ari '' translated to English as “old rice”. The historical background is, that during the British Raj large mounds of rice to be distributed to the province of Mangalore were always stored in this house as it was of geo-strategic importance to the British. Hence the place that stored old rice got to be called Parari from Par-Ari.

There is a multi-elemental association to Parari and on top of it is the people who built it. They constituted, for the most part, the prominence of the place. The tales, activities, traditions, offerings, beliefs, and legacy. Their noted connection is to the most popular family in the south Canara or perhaps Karnataka. Shri Veerendra Heggade of Dharmasthala Sri Manjunatha. The deity and its presence are revered by hundreds of thousands of people. Parai is situated very close to the “ Shri Kshetra '' Dharmasthala and holds a beautiful connection to the temple facilitator’s family. To know that the family of Parari had close ties with the Heggade family and that they visited ‘The Parari ’ house is just lustrous.

 

 

The prominence of ‘ The Parari ’ is the presence of natural elements that surround this old property rich in history and culture. The house was built in the late 1870s by Patriarch Hebbar. He hailed from Kalasa of Chikmagalur and built a home at the banks of the river Mrityunjaya. The river is a mound of character and flows with calm ferocity. With scale and humility, it is a sight and sound to witness.

The backyard of the house leads to the Mrityunjaya River and one can feel a sense of oneness with nature and its special visitors - ‘birds’. They sit on the banks awaiting fishlings to surface. There are lush tropical plants on the banks of the river and creepers on the nearby giant fallen tree, a victim to Mrityunjaya’s mighty flow on a monsoon day. Mrityunjaya flows with rage when rain gods come down heavily on the western ghats and he takes them along to mother Nethravathi whom he happily merges on the banks of Pajiradka, which happens to be the house god of ‘ The Parari ’. 

The family of Parari would use floaters and cross the Mrityunjaya River and walk amidst the forest on foot to Pajiradka on many occasions. It was a family tradition and a must during many festivals of the Tulu folks. Pajiradka has immense meaning and closeness to the family of Parari. Pajiradka meaning “pajir” in Tulu translates to Grass. “Adka” in Tulu translates to Shiva Linga. Hence the “Shivalinga” of the grass tells the story of Pajiradka where the shiva linga was found by the cattle grazers whilst harvesting grass for cattle of the Parari family on their lands. Thus Pajiradka came into existence and the Siva Linga was placed in a temple. Sanctum sanctorum was built around the Shiva Linga so the faith is preserved and the followers come and offer their prayers and gratitude. Later an outer structure was constructed to protect it from the mighty Nethravathi river in her full flow during the persistent monsoon rains. 

After offering the first prayers at Pajiradka during the festivities, The Parari family would start a three-day ‘Nompu’ celebration at “The Parari House”. This is the offering to their kula devata And “ Anna Samarpane” to the surrounding village. During Nompu which goes nonstop for three days full 24 hours, the house would see more than 200 people at once and at least 100 would be in the house resting, cooking, sleeping, and arranging all day for 3 days. Women gathered at the ‘Uyyale Chavde’ to weave the flowers for gods in the morning, many Brahman cooks were invited to cook food offerings to the god in a separate kitchen that is integrated into the ‘Parari House’ exclusively for festivities. It sports huge wood-burnt open stoves and big cauldrons for Payasam and Huli.

 

 

The Pooja room is a temple within the house. It has its own Sanctum Sanctorum and all are invited to come and pray within the halls of the puja room. Early in the morning of the first day, a group of elders visit the  Mrityunjaya River to bring Yamuna (water) to the house to start the rituals. Throughout this time there is a chanting of mantras nonstop. It was a sight for the home dwellers, visiting relatives, village guests, and the Brahmans. The puja room would be adorned with the flowers prepared by the ladies the previous night and decorated with geometric colors of Rangoli to make the room festive and a place of intention for all the mantras and chanting.

 

 

In the night the celebrations would be taken to Pajiradka on foot through the family's plantation lands then cross the Mrityunjaya river. There would be chanting of Mantras and Homa in Pajiradka throughout the three days. The family says it was a time when all of them got together to offer prayers and gratitude. It was electric for them, the experience of being in one with nature and family. The family always invited their extended relatives to get a rare glimpse of the scale and strength of the celebrations of Nompu and Pajiradka. They contributed to the Nompu preparations together and spoke for hours at the end. The house never slept for 3 full days.

 

 

On the last day of Nompu, more people would visit, lunch would be served, and in the evening Yamuna would be returned to the Mrityunjaya River. This would mean the culmination of Nompu and blessed with generosity. 

The house for sure has witnessed so much glory and greatness over the years. It has housed great people, generations of families, and also freedom fighters during the British Raj who took refuge at ‘The Parari’ during their initial freedom struggles for an Independent India. It has been a major constant for cultural exchange, discussions on sovereignty, and abolishing suppressions from the British Raj. The house was ahead of its times, it was the place where seeds to revolutions were sown, the glory and grandeur of Tulu Nadu culture were celebrated, and areca and rice were harvested from its lands. The family did a great deal of philanthropic and developmental work for the surrounding areas of Parari and Dharmasthala.

 

 

The house was built 140 years ago and has stained glasses on the window pane, imported Moroccan handmade floor tiles, musical instruments, teak and rosewood for the pillars and roofing, bed cots made of hardwood that cannot be moved, ample space, and structure for storing harvest. It exudes history, heritage, and culture. It is a house that has built a legacy along the way and stands strong exuding immense confidence and grace for more such memories. It's a heaven for its residents and visitors alike. The moment you step in, you feel the embrace and it takes your breath away looking at its vastness and the surrounding property through its many outlets and huge 12-foot-long wooden doors. 

 

 

It's a sight that cannot be justified in words, it must only be felt and cherished. This is Parari to you by me, I have been enthralled to my core and hope I get to visit Parari more often and bask in its esteemed graciousness.

Category : History


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Written by Panchami Shadakshari