Mangattachan Tales- Folklore of Northern Kerala

When sleep used to evade me as a kid, my dad would narrate stories- mythology, folktales, epics et al. This is one such folktale of Northern Kerala narrated to me by him. It describes the feats of Mangattachan, the wise Prime Minister of the Samoodiri of Kozhikode.

Before the advent of the British, the Samoodiri (origin: Samoodrathiri meaning the overlord of the oceans) Raja of Kozhikode (Zamorin of Calicut) used to rule over the Malabar coast of Kerala. The kingdom of Calicut was the most powerful one in North-Central Kerala with trade ties with countries across the seas. The smaller states surrounding his kingdom accepted his suzerainty. However Kolathiri of Kolathanadu had a long standing feud with the Samoodiri.

Once when Kolathiri was paying a visit to Samoodiri, Samoodiri asked him ‘Kolathiri kathumo?’ Will Kolathiri burn? (thiri means wick). Kolathiri asked him in return ‘Sa moori kuthumo?’ Will the bull sting? (moori means bull). To which Samoodiri replied ‘Kolathiri kathiyaal samoori kuthum’ If Kolathiri burns then Samoodiri will sting

A few days later Samoodiri received an exquisitely carved treasure chest as a gift from Kolathiri. Now Mangattachan who was present during the meeting of the kings, remembered the conversation and  advised the guards to dip the chest in water before opening it. When they opened it was found to be full of now wet gunpowder explosives which would have gone off.

In return Samoodiri ordered a gift to be sent to Kolathiri on the advice of Mangattachan. News of how Mangattachan saved Samoodiri’s life had reached Kolathanadu. On receiving the gift Kolathiri’s Prime Minister decided to imitate Mangattachan and ordered the casket to be immersed in water. On opening, a swarm of bees emerged, extremely annoyed at being wet and stung Kolathiri and his courtiers hard.


Once when Mangattchan was away, Samoodiri developed a serious ache in his right shoulder. Doctors and Hakims from places near and far tried to cure him but all efforts proved futile. When Kolathiri heard about Samoodiri’s condition, he sent his Chief Physician to treat Samoodiri. Kolathiri’s physician asked him to apply a wet towel on his right shoulder continuously. Miraculously his condition improved dramatically. Samoodiri showered gifts on him and sent his note of thanks to Kolathiri.

However when Mangattachan arrived back in Calicut, he realized that a grave mistake had been made. He understood that it was Goddess Lakhsmi (The Goddess of Prosperity and Wealth) playing her joyful dance on Samoodiri’s shoulder that caused his shoulder ache. Her blessings on Samoodiri had ensured that his kingdom remained prosperous and wealthy. Her satisfaction with the Samoodiri’s rule had cause her to start a dance on his shoulders. However applying a wet towel on the shoulder invites the bête noire of Lakshmi- Cheta Bhagavathi the evil Goddess and drives away Lakhsmi.

Mangattachan soon set out in search of Goddess Lakshmi. Finally with the sun setting he found a lady with a brilliant radiance around her walking through the streets of Kozhikode Angaadi (Calicut Bazaar). Despite the repeated entreaties of Mangattachan, Goddess Lakshmi was adamant on leaving Calicut. Mangattachan then relented but requested her to wait until he had returned back and extracted a promise that she would not leave until he came back.

Mangattachan then went one of the nearby temple ponds, removed his sword and stabbed himself. He sacrificed himself to ensure that the Goddess of Prosperity never left the Kingdom of Calicut.


  1. neethu said:

    good story
    must be narrated to kids

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