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Annamar kathaigal (Ponnar Shankar)

The definition of culture conventionally goes like this - Culture can be defined as all the
ways of life including arts, beliefs and institutions of a population that are passed down
from generation to generation. Culture has been called "the way of life for an entire
society. India being very old country and has history which is very old than all the history
put together. Religion is not the synonym for culture but still has great influence on each
other. India gave room for many religions and languages to born and flourish and still is.
otable religions are !induism, Christianity, Islam, "uddhism, #ainism, $ikhism and
many more.
I am going to write about the epic of gounders called %%&%R '%T!%I(%)
famously called *+%R $!%'%R.
"efore writing this I would like to disclaim few things by e,plaining my ideas on
religions that I belong or that I come across. I see religions as one another identity which
is ultimately unnecessary. I am not feling proud or humble of being in this religion.
!aving said that, it will be unfair if I ignore the goodness of any religion. I believe
&ahabharata not for the god $ri 'rishna but for its immense and profound spiritual
knowledge and more over a great story to read. It is hard for me to dissimulate the feeling
that I strongly believe that &ahabharata was a happened story. The finding of the
-waraka city in (u.arat, the carbon dating of the archeologist evidence in -waraka, the
accuracy of the planets and many more. The &ahabharata weapon "ramastra/s
characteristics goes e,actly e0uals the modern day nuclear weapon. If some part of me
belive mahabarata then so is for %nnamar katyhaigal.
1ith the help of contemporary knowledge if we .udge, form an opinion or evaluate the
past knowledge then It is as stupid as prophesying the futuristic knowledge.
*onnar-sankar are two sons of the couples 'unnadaiyaa (ounder 3Thaamaraiya
(oundachi.They had a -aughter called as 4Thangammal.They belong to 5aangal
*erungudi kottam. "oth ruled *+I 5%)%%-6. ow they are workshiped as god by
'+(6 57))% (+6-7R$. 5eerappur is a historic place in 'ongu region, where
'ongu 5ellala (ounders fought with their rivals 5ettuvans during medieval times.
5erappur is a place of pilgrimage connected with the history of *onner-$ankar those who
ruled this region. There are Temples for *onner- $ankar 3 *eriyakandi %mman. *onnar-
$ankar are said to have lived at 5alanadu and 5eerapur.The eeli 5alanadu 8ort is
rectangular in shape 9:;< feet , =>? feet@. There was a moat around the palace. Ichi tree,
the basement of the entire fortification, some remains of the moat are e,isting. The $tory
of "rother is the story of ancestors of 'ongu 5ellala (ounders who inhabit the 'ongu
area of Tamilnadu. %lthough there is no official geographic area called 'ongunadu at
present, it covers the districts of Coimbatore, 7rode, 'arur, parts of Trichi and parts of
&adurai. This area is generally dry land compared to other parts of Tamilnadu. The rivers
"havani, oyyal flows through this region. $ome parts of the 'ongu is irrigated by
'averi. 'ongu (ounders make up about ABC of the 'ongu region and is a dominant
community in the 'ongu region.
It is said that 'ongu migrated to the 'ongu region about thousand years back to inhabit
the forest lands and convert them into agricultural lands for cultivation. It is also said the
'ongus helped the Chola kings in their attempt to inhabit the land and in the fight against
the original hunter-gatherer communities and in setting up settlements in the region. The
Chola kings donated to the 'ongus large tracts of lands and gave them also rights to set
up small kingdoms. That may e,plains why the 'ongus are the ma.or landowners in the
'ongu areas and main cultivators of the land.
+ne of the ma.or landmarks that one will find traveling across 'ongu region is the sight
of "Road sideTemples" dedicated to The "rothers. It is impossible to miss the sight of the
colorful effigies of brothers carrying swords with fearsome looks. %lthough The "rothers
belong to the community of gounders, ""rothers" are celebrated by many other
communities besides gounders. In fact, gounders do not celebrate the festival of The
"rother. In stead, they sponsor the celebrations performed by other communities and
perform some rituals assigned to them.
The story of brothers used to be one of the greatest folklores of the 'ongu region. )ocal
bards used to sing the story for a period of thirteen days. %t the end of the story they used
to perform ritual death of the brothers and the soldiers and their resurrection.
&. 'arunanithithi, former chief minister of Tamilnadu, was
fascinated by the sight of temples dedicated to brothers when he
lived in the Coimbatore region and took deep interest in
understanding the story. Then, he wrote a historic novel titled
"*onnar-$ankar" to tell a slightly modified version of the story and
destroyed the palm leaf evidence. 9The original manuscript@ by his
power of ruling. *erhaps, it may be one of the bad sources to
understand The $tory of "rothers.
This story is about the early settlement of gounders in the 'ongu region and their
struggle to establish their roots in the region. The story narrates the hostilities between
the parallel relatives for the land and the resentment of the original hunter-gatherer
community to the new settlers. !istory tells us that settlements of the new comers to a
new land never takes place without the struggle with the original inhabitants of the land.
The story e,emplifies the victory of the brothers over the hunter-gather community and
the parallel relatives who in collusion with hunter-gatherer wanted to defeat the "rothers
and take the land away from them. *erhaps, that fight would have settled the dispute of
the gounders for their right of settlement in the region and their e,pansion to the whole of
present 'ongunadu.
$o. 1hat is the storyD
'olatha (ounder D *atriarch of the $tory
This story traces the history of three generations of gounders. The patriarch of the story is
'olatha gounder. !e belonged to *erun'udian 'oottam and ruled a small kingdom from
a village named 5aangal. !is wife was *aavaathal. 'olatha gounder was a good and
benevolent king. !e built a temple near &athukarai for the goddess Chelliamman. !e
also built a water pond 9 5ellan 'ulam @ in that area and irrigated nearby lands.
-uring his time, there were hostilities among the more powerful Tamil 'ings belonging
to Cheran, Cholan and *andian dynasties. !e offered his services to settle their disputes
by organiEing a conference at the &athukarai temple. It is said that the Chola king was
very pleased with his services and donated him large parcel of land. !e also gave him
rights to rule the area.
6nfortunately, 'olatha gounder and *avathal did not have a child for a long time. They
finally got a son after praying the goddess Chelliamman and undertaking pilgrimage to
temples. They named him ellian 'odan. %lthough, the couple had a son, the son did not
turn out to be a typical gounder boy. 6nlike the usual gounder boys who were aggressive
and strong, ellian 'odan turned out to be meek and weak. %s he was very soft, people
started calling him "&asai $wamy" meaning brainless boy.
'olatha gounder and *avathal were getting old. 'olatha gounder was not keeping good
health. aturally, they were worried about their son and started wondering what would
happen to him after they were gone. 'olatha (ounder summoned his brother Chellatha
(ounder and the household worker Cholan Thotti to his house. !e told both of them
about his worries. !e pleaded with his brother to groom his son and to take care of him
until he became an able adult.
'olatha gounder4s wife *avathal had a brother named &alai 'olunthu living in the
village &aniam 'urichi. %s it was customary in those days to marry the daughter of
&ama, 'olatha gounder wanted his son to marry Thamari achi, the beautiful daughter
of &ali 'olunthu. !e asked his brother to promise him that he would get his son, ellian
'odan, get married to Thamari. 1ith all earnestness, Chellatha (ounder promised his
brother that he would fulfill his wishes and he need not worry about his son4s well being.
%s 'olataha gounder became very sick, he returned back the land he got from the Chola
'ing. Then one day he passed away, leaving his only son in the hands of Chellatha
ellian 'odan D an unfortunate son
%fter the death of *avatha (ounder, Chellatha (ounder did not prove to be good
caretaker of ellian 'odan. ellian was meek, weak and young. Chellatha (ounder and
his sons and other parallel relatives .oined together and troubled him in a number of
ways. %s ellian 'odan could not cope with the aggression of his relatives on his land
and his cultivation, he somehow wanted to escape from them. !e left all his lands and his
agriculture and ran away to nearby &aniam 'urichi village. There he got work as a
shepard and tended cattle for his master. !is work was to take the cattle such as lambs
and goats to the grass lands for graEing and bring them back safe to the farm. +ne day,
the head farm worker noticed that one goat was missing during the head count. The
supervisor severely whipped him until blood poured out of his body and kicked him out
of the farm. ellian 'odan tried to return to his own farm in his native village. "y that
time, his blood relatives completely encroached his land. They also severely beat him and
drove him out of his own village.
1ithout support from any of his relatives, he reached a village named %di Chetti
*alayam. There he went to a Chettiar4s 9 shopkeeper@ house. Chettiar kept him in his
house and took care of him. ellian 'odan did some household work to the chettiar.
%s ellian 'odan is gone, Chellatha (ounder took possession of all of ellian 'odan4s
land. %s he became very rich, he also schemed to get Thamari to marry his own son
&alai $wamy. &ali 'olunthu also agreed for the marriage of his daughter to Chellatha
(ounder4s son. "oth of them proceeded ahead with marriage preparations.
Thamari and her +ath
The news of the marriage of Thamari with Chellatha (ounder4s son spread around the
region. Cholian Thotti who was present during the promise made by Cheelatha (ounder
to his brother heard about it and was alarmed. !e went to %di Cheetti *alayam to inform
ellian 'odan of that marriage. "oth of them decided to go to &aniam 'urichi to stop
the marriage.
%fter reaching &aniam 'urichi, they devised a tactic to meet Thamari. %t that time, as
Thamari was entertaining beggars with food and grain gifts, they decided to approach her
as beggars and reveal their identity after reaching her. 1hen ellian 'odan was
approaching Thamri, his aunt advised Thamari to give that beggar a measure of rye grain.
ellian 'odan revealed himself to Thamari and his aunt and asked his aunt to give
Thamari4s hand in marriage.
%t that time, &alai 'olunthu happened to come there. !e became very furious to learn
that ellian 'odan came to ask for the marriage of his daughter and took him away to a
separate place. )ater, !e beat him severely. !e dragged him and locked him in a hut
infested with ants and termites.
!earing what has happened to ellian 'odan, Thamrai became e,tremely angry and was
highly repulsed by her parent4s actions. %ll along, she was under the impression that
ellian 'odan could not be found and nobody knew about his whereabouts. %s he was
the rightful groom, she told her parents that she wanted to marry him only. $he removed
all the .ewelery that she was wearing in the preparation of the marriage and threw all of
them on the ground.
%s Thamari became very adamant and determined in her decision, &alai 'olunthu did
not have a choice. !e reluctantly agreed for the marriage of Thamari to ellian 'odan.
1hen Chellatha (ounder heard about the dramatic turn of events, he became very angry.
!e wanted to physically punish ellian 'odan. &alai 'olunthu somehow pacified him
and sent him back to his village.
!owever, &alai 'olunthu was not only disappointed with Thamari but was very angry
with her. Thamari was e0ually angry with her father. -uring their verbal e,changes,
Thamari took an oath in front of her brother. Thamarai4s oath is the seminal part of our
story. 1ith anger in her eyes and bitterness in her tone, she cursed her fatherF
" I will give birth to two lion like sons. Gou will get two grand daughters through your
son. &y sons will marry your grand daughters and bring them to my home".
ellian 'odan "ecomes 'unru 6dayaan
ellian 'odan had absolutely no place to go. !e went to the Chola 'ing and told him his
story and pleaded with him for help. %s the Chloa had respect for ellian 'odan4s father,
he wanted to help. !e gave a worst tract of hilly land for freeH The land was full of
cactus, bushes and stones. !e advised him to use that land and somehow save himself
from disaster. The servant in the household of his father, Cholian Thotti also .oined him
in clearing the land and preparing it for cultivation. 8ortunately, as there was good rain,
they had a good harvest of sorghum. The worst tract of land became a good land due to
their hard work. ellian 'odan became a rich farmer in this area in course of time. !e
also cultivated many other lands in the hilly area. %s he became owner of many hilly
lands, he came to be known as 'unru 6diyan meaning the owner of hillocks. The story of
the brothers is also known as the "$tory of 'unnudian".
ellian 'odan D Thamari D Childless Couple
ellian 'odan not only became rich but also became famous as he was owning large
tracts of hilly lands. %lthough, the couple was happy of their good fortunes, they were
very much worried as they were not a getting a child as desired. They prayed to all of the
nearby gods. They also took pilgrimages to famous temples in the region. They built a
Ratham for &athukari TempleDs Chellandiamman and conducted special pu.a for the
procession of the Ratha around that temple. 7ven then, they did not get a child. They
consulted many astrologers and observed many ceremonies for getting a child as advised.
%s their problem could not be solves locally, they were advised to take a pilgrimage to
Chidambaram atara.a Temple for praying and getting !is "lessings for the birth of a
child. %s Chdambaram was far away for them in those days, they decided to entrust their
lands and their cultivation to the custody of a 5ettuva 'ing in the ad.acent &ayadu.
"ut, the 5ettuva 'ing was a cunning and conniving person. !e secretly schemed to take
all lands and .ewelry from ellian 'odan. !e also planned to murder ellian 'odan and
take Thamari forcibly into his kingdom. ellian 'odan and Thamari came to know of
5ettuva 'ingDs secret plan but only after they had entrusted their .ewellery and other
belongings in his custody. %s soon as they knew his secret plan, they went to his
kingdom and demanded the return of their belongings and the .ewellery. "ut the 5ettuva
king refused. !e severely beat ellian 'odan and threw him out of his house. Thamari
became very angry. $he could not physically much in front of the 5elltuava 'ingsDs
servants. $he became wild and took an oath in front of them which may be forerunner of
the (reat "attle in the story.
D I will cause a blood bath for your "reach of TrustD
This is ThamariDs second oath that is very important in this $tory.
%fterwards they returned back to their lands. They were e,tremely distressed with the
breach of the trust of the 5ettuva 'ing. !owever, they decided to go to Chidambaram to
get the blessings of )ord atara.a for the birth of a child. They undertook the .ourney and
returned successfully back to their lands. In course of time, Thamari became pregnant.
"irth of *onnar-$ankar
%ll these days, Chellatha gounder was very happy and was leading a rich life. !e
e,pected no threat from ellian 'odan after all ellian 'odan was a weak man and did
not possess the physical prowess to challenge him about the lands that were anne,ed. "ut
the news of the pregnancy of Thamari troubled him. 1hat would happen if Thamari
gives birth to a male childD In course of time, the male child could become an able adult
and challenge him and his son &aliswamy for the rights of his land. !e was soon
thinking of various schemes to avert the birth of a male child in ellian 'odanDs 8amily.
In those days it was customary to have midwives to take of the pregnant ladies. Chellatha
gounder secretly approached the midwife tending to Thamari. !e bribed her sufficiently
and tempted her to .oin him in his a malicious scheme. !e asked her to take good care of
Thamari as usual until birth of the child. If the child happened to be female, she would
tend the child giving oil bath and treat the visitors with sweets. If the child happened to
be a male, she would smother child to death and would announce to the world that the
child was stillborn. That way nobody would ever what had happened. The mid-wife
agreed to this diabolical and cunning scheme. $he was attending to Thamari as advised
by Chlellatha gounder.
The time came for the child birth. Thamai went into labor. The mid-wife got ready to
smother the child to death without her knowledge if it happened to be male. The moment
was tense. Instead of one child, Thamari gave birth to two children. "oth of them
happened to be male. !owever, before the mid-wife could kill them, the children kicked
the midwife and simply disappeared from her sight. It is said that the first child *onnar
came out of the right-side of the ThamariDs womb and the second child $ankar came out
of the left-side. It was possible that the children were hidden for their safety by Thamari
and ellian 'odan. %ll we know is that *onnar and $ankar disappeared and did not come
into the story for 0uite some time.
%fter a while, ThamariDs brother &ari 'olunthu also got children of his own. !e had two
daughters and three boys a total of five children in all. ellian 'odan had a loyal servant
by name Cholian Thotti who was with ellian 'odan throughout his ordeal with his
*angalis. In course of time, he got married and got a son named $ambuvan.
%fter the loss of the twin boys, Thamari again became pregnant and this time she gave
birth to a female child which did not create any problems to the ellian 'odanDs
pangalis. The girl was named %rkani alla Thangam. 9%rkani used to be a common name
among gounder girls in the olden days@. Chellatha gounder was very happy that Thamari
did not produce male challenger to the lands.
*onnar-$ankar D #oining *arents
%lthough %rkani had two brothers, she was growing up alone in the family. +ne day
Thamari described to %rkani her life story. $he informed the little girl of her cunning
relatives who stole the land from her father. $he also informed her about her missing
brothers. $he lamented over the severe punishment her father received from the pangali
relatives when he went to them to ask for his lands. $he cried and sobbed unable to
control her emotions. %rkani also cried along with her mother severely for the physical
pain her father had to endure because of her *angali relatives.
Thamari nostalgically remembered hers sons and worried what had happened to them. It
is said that *onnar-$ankan overheard the entire conversation and appeared in front of
their mother and revealed themselves. Thamari was e,tremely happy that her sons .oined
her back. "ut, she was also afraid of their safety. $he was worried that Chellatha gounder
would harm her sons and would even get them killed.
Thamari and ellian 'odan decided to leave their village and go to the village named
%di Chetty *alayam along with their children. The children grew there until they became
able adults. ellian 'odan arranged to teach his sons 8encing, $ilambam and other
martial trainins from a well-known vettuva gounder guru named Rakkianan in a neraby
village named &aari (ounden *alayam. Rakkianan gave e,cellent training to *onnar and
$ankan and made them great e,perts in martial arts. *onnar D $ankar also grew into
e,tremely handsome adults and commanded great respect for their personality. They
were physically well developed with commanding height, shap and powerful looks. +ne
can appreciate the physical features of *oonar-$anker by visiting the %nnanmar temples
and watching the statues in the temple. They turned out to be the very opposite of ellian
'odan who was a weak person. 1hile *onnar D $ankar were taking martial arts training,
%rkani grew up with her mother Thamari learning many things from her mother. Thamari
taught her daughter cooking and instilled in her a sense of respect for her family and the
love for her brothers and the family. *erhaps %rkani-*onnar-$ankar sibling love and
affection is one of the preeminent themes of the *onnar-$ankar $tory.
In course of time *onnar and $ankar completed their martial arts training and .oined their
parents at 'udiyur. *onnar D $ankar became well known warrior adults in the region.
Thamari never forgot the humiliation her family endured from the pangalis. -uring a
family gathering, Thamari recounted to *onnar-$ankar the whipping their father received
from Chellatha (ounder during an encounter. $he cried uncontrollably remembering that
episode. *onnar-$ankar became very wild learning the humiliation and indignity their
parents had to endure with their parallel relatives. "oth of them went to the pangaliDs
village and challenged them to a fight. *onnar-$ankar whipped Chlellatha (ounder and
his sons with a special whip 9 an.u mani kairu@ and reprimanded *angaliDs wives for their
cruelty to their mother.
Challenge to *angalis and Resentment of 5ettluva )eader %fter this challenge and severe
whipping, Chellatha gounder realiEed that *onnar-$ankar had grown too big and he could
not control them on his own. !e decided to seek help from the nearby village Thaliyur.
The leader of Thaliyur village belonged to 5ettuva Community. !is name was 'ali.
Thaliyu vettuva leader was already resenting the growing influence of *onnar and $ankar
in the region. 'ali readily .oined forces with Chellatha (ounder and his son &aliswamy
and decided to stop the spread of influence of *onnar-$ankar. They decided to trouble
*onnar and $ankar in the cultivation of the land and restrict them in their hunting
In those days, young adults participated in many competitions showcasing their skills in
martial arts. In those competitions, *onnar and $ankar offered serious challenge to the
youths belonging to the 5ettuva Community. %s *onnar D $ankar won most of the
competitions, vettuva community developed hatred towards them and naturally 'ali
being leader of 5ettuva community, hated *onnar D $ankar for their e,tra ordinary skills
in martial arts. 'ali regarded *onnar-$ankar as his worst enemies and wanted them to be
+ne day 'ali challenged *onnar-$ankar for a rooster fight. In those days rooster fight
was very common. They would tie a sharp blade to the leg of the rooster and let two
roosters fight against each other until one is eliminated. The owner of the victorious
rooster claimed victory for the fight. The brothers accepted the challenge and agreed for
the fight. !owever, %rkani had uncanny power to read the mind of the persons and
warned her brothers that 'ali was deliberately setting up these fights and he was meaning
to physically harm them. &oreover, she performed some pu.as and blessed a Rooster that
would be used in the fight again 'ali. *onnar and $ankar were vigilant and 'ali did not
do anything out of order. The Rooster blessed by %rkni won the fight and the bothers
returned home victorious.
In course of time $ankar D *onnar well known in the entire region. They also became
very strong. They decided to go back to 5alanadu, the original village of their grand
father and decided to claim back the land that belonged to them. 1hen *onnar and
$ankar challenged Chellatha gounder for the land, he could not do anything to prevent
them from taking their lands back. They announced themselves as the leaders of the
region and collected ta,es on behalf of 6raiyur Chola 'ing and paid their dues to him.
They also built a *alace for themselves and made their parents very happy. 8inally,
Thamari and ellian 'odan passes away more or less at the same time.
%rkani could not bear the death of her parents. $he did not have too many friends either
e,cepting the daughter of a &utaliar by name 'uppayee. 'uppapyee gave very good
company to %rkani and did everything possible to help her during the sad times. The
"rothers were very much worried that her sister was completely overwhelmed with the
death of their parents. They tried their level best to cheer her up. They knew that she
liked birds and playing with birds made her happy. $ankar went on a hunting e,pedition
to catch birds in the nearby .ungles. 9 This ritual is still celebrated during %nnan-mar
8estivals@. !e brought variety of birds for his sister D parrots, doves etc. The sight and the
chirping of the birds made %rkani happy and slowly she came out of depression. %fter
recovering from grief, %rkani concentrated her attention on D&editationD. "ecause of her
continued meditation, she received the ability to predict the future happenings.
+ne day $ankar went on a hunting e,pedition and killed a )eopard. %s soon as 'ali
knew about it, he protested charging that the .ungle where $ankar killed the leopard,
belonged to him. !e also charged $ankar for wanton violation of his property. 'ali
decided to strike at *onnar-$ankar lands. 'ali sent his men to border area of 5alla adu.
'aliDs men looted cattle and destroyed cultivated lands to provoke *onnar-$ankar. 'aliDs
men also abducted 'uppai D a closed friend of %rkani thinking that they were abducting
%rkani. !earing about the abduction of 'uppayee, $ankar went after 'aliDs men and
recovered her from the enemies after a big fight. !owever, 'uppayee was humiliated.
$he could not control the humiliation and the loss of dignity that she had to endure with
'aliDs men. $he was overwhelmed with grief. $he decided to take her life. +ne day when
nobody was watching, she committed suicide hanging herself by a rope. %rkani was
highly devastated at the death of her close friend. It took a long time for her to come back
to normalcy.
&eanwhile, Thaliyur 'ali continued to frustrate *onnar D $ankar and troubled farmers
living in the 5alla adu by committing atrocities D stealing cattle, destroying crop etc. %s
the land belonged to 6riyur Cholan, affected peoplein the region also complained to the
Chola 'ing about 'ali and his atrocities. 6riyur Chola 'ing already knew about
*onnar D $ankar and their good work in the region. !e summoned them to his court and
conferred on them the status of D$mall 'ingsD. *onnar D $ankar were highly pleased and
returned back to the 5alla adu to continue their good work to the people in their
8ulfilment of ThamariDs +ath
%rkani never forgot her family history. $he vividly remembered her motherDs oath in
front of her maternal grand father.
D I will give birth to two lion-like sons. Gou will have two grand daughters through your
sons. &y sons will marry your daughters and bring them to my homeD.
These sentences were constantly ringing in her ears. $he could imagine her mother in
front of her grandfather e,changing verbal tirade with bitterness in her voice, and anger
in her face. $he could see her father with a drooped head with the shame of humiliation
and sense of inability. %rkani thought that it was time for the fulfillment of her motherDs
%fter *oonar and $ankar returned from 6riyru after getting the tile of D$mall-'ingsD
from the Chola 'ing, %rkani broached the sub.ect of marriage with her brothers. $he
reminded them of the oath of their mother and the duty of her children to fulfill that oath
to vindicate her decision to marry to ellian 'odan. The brothers were convinced by the
persuasion of %rkani and agreed to ask their &amaDs daughter in marriage.
$inna &ali 'olunthu was the brother of Thamari and hence Thaai &ama of *onnar and
$ankar. $inna &ali 'olunthu had two daughters. The first dautghter was named
&uthayee and second one was named *avalayee. It was decided that *onnar would ask
for the hand of &uthayee and $ankar would ask for the hand of *avalayee. %s *onnar
and $ankar have already become famous, $inna &ali 'olunthu was very much pleased to
give his daughters in marriage to *onnar and $ankar. The marriage took place with all the
pomp and show befitting small kings. %rknai was very happy that her mothersD oath was
fulfilled by this marriage.
*onnar and $ankar ruled their kingdom very fairly. In course of time their good name
spread all around the region. 7ven 5ettuva Community members who were traditionally
hostile to *onnar D $ankar started respecting them for their uprightness and honesty. That
made the 5ettuva )eader 'ali very angry and wanted to take revenge on them by
subterfuge and cunningness.
Trickery of (oldsmith
!e enlisted the services of a goldsmith named $emba'ulan to trick *onnar and $ankar
and get them bad name in the region. %s per the plan, $embakulan undertook a .ourney
through 5allanadu. !e reached $ankarDs palace and re0uested him to accommodate him
in their palace for a night stay. "eing king and generous, *onnar readily provided him
shelter for the goldsmith in his palace. !e treated him like a guest and provided him
dinner in the tradition of 'ongu gounders. 1hile retiring to the bed, $embakulan
approached *onnar and re0uested to him to keep custody of an ornamental gold cup for
that night. $ankar innocently accepted the cup and kept it in a safe for its safety.
The ne,t day, after finishing the breakfast, $embakulan asked for the gold cup. *onnar
took the cup from the safe and returned it back to him. $ambakulan here played his game
to trick *onnar. !e told *onnar that the cup *onnar returned was not the same one that he
gave *onnar the previous night. !e also told *onnar that the cup he gave him previous
night was made of pure gold and the cup *onnar returned him as was only gilded with
gold D it was actually copper inside. *onnar was astonished to hear this charge.
*onnar was very angry and wild. !e could have punished him and sent him out of his
palace. "ut, he wanted to prove that he was innocent. !e controlled his anger and decided
to act calmly. $embakulan, being wily and cunning, told *onnar that he wanted .ustice in
front of a village .ury. *onnar called the members of the village .ury. $embakulan
pleaded to the .ury that he was a weak, and powerless person. !e could not do anything
against a rich and powerful king like *onnar. 1ith a persuasive language and a smooth
demeanor $embakulan pro.ected a very credible image for his story. !e almost
convinced the .ury that he was telling the truth.
*onnar was at a loss. !e felt that he had to do something to prove his innocence. !e did
not have a convincing argument against the wily $emabakuln e,cepting his words. %s
was customary in those days, he offered himself to any test to prove his innocence. The
popular test used to be lighting of incense on the hand while it was burning with flames.
If the person could bear the pain without any effect on the skin, the person was supposed
to have passed the Dtest of innocenceD.
1hen *onnar offered himself to the test of innocence that would be proposed by the
accuser, %rkani happened to come to the palace. )earning what had happened, she
immediately understood the ploy played out by the goldsmith. $he pleaded with *onnar
that the whole thing was a set-up and he should not sub.ect himself to this cruel test of
innocence designed by his enemies. !owever, *onnar was convinced that being innocent
he would pass any test and vindicate his innocence. !e consoled %rkani that she need not
worry about any harm to him, as he was innocent.
$ambakulan proposed a deadly test. !e knew it was almost impossible for anybody to
swim to the bottom of the nearby 5elaan kulma pond and come out through the duct to
the other side of the pond. !e proposed e,actly that test hoping that *onnar would die in
the process. *onnar and $ebakulan decided to go the pond for the test.
*onnar knew that 'ali had been plotting to attack and destroy him and his family. !e
e,pected 'ali to attack his palace during his absence. !ence, he advised $ambuvan and
his brother-in-laws to remain at the palace and guard it from any attack from 'ali and his
"loodbath at *adu 'alam
Through his men, 'ali came to know that *onnar has left for the 5elaan 'ulam with
$emba kulan. 'ali thought that it was appropriate time for him to attack *onnar D $ankar
palace and destroy it. 'ali and his men decided to attack the palace. They were on their
way to $ankar-*onnar *alace. !earing the arrival of 'ali and 'aliDs men into the 5engal
area, a contingent of four consisting of *onnar-$ankarDs brother-in-laws 9 Three of them@
and $ambuvan went to meet them on the way for a battle. They met 'ali and his men on
the way. % fierce battle ensued. They defeated 'aliDs men and made them run for their
lives. %fter winning 'aliDs men, the four of them returned happily savoring their victory
over 'aliDs men.
%s they were thirsty, they went to a nearby pond to drink water. "ut they did not know
that water in the pong was already poisoned by 'ali and his men. %s all the three brother-
in-laws drank the water, they died on the spot. !owever, $ambuvan was spared as he did
not drink that water. $ambuvan was highly devastated witnessing the tragic death of the
*onnar-$ankarDs brother-in-laws. !e immediately ran to the palace to tell the news.
There, he found $ankar and told him want had happened. $ankar became e,tremely
furious and immediately started on his horse to search for 'ali and destroy him.
$ankar shouted for the revenge of 'ali in his hands. !is anger had no bounds. It is said
that the god &ayavar 9 an avatar of 5ishnu @ who was also military adviser to 'ali,
thought that $ankar would destroy everything if he is not contained in the .ungles. To
stop $ankar and to mitigate the destruction, &ayavar hid behind a bush and charged
arrows to his chest. +ne arrow lodged into the chest of $ankar and wounded him.
RealiEing that he had been wounded, $ankar could not tolerate that he could be wounded
and that he would suffer from pain. !e called $ambuvan and told him that he did not like
to live any more as he was wounded. !e asked him to prepare the ground where he could
commit courageous suicide by piercing his own body with sharp sword. !is death was
considered to the death of bravery. The spot where $ankar committed suicide could be
visited in a place called D*adu 'alamD.
$eeing the dearth of his master, $ambuvan was devastated. !e also did not want to live
any more. 8ollowing the footsteps of his master, $ambuvan also committed suicide in the
same spot. "oth $ankar and $ambuvan chose death of bravery.
*onnarDs Revenge on 5ettuva )eader 1hen all these unfortunate deaths and suicide were
happening at *adu 'alam, *onnar was still at the 5elan 'ulam trying to pass the test of
innocence proposed by the goldsmith $ambakulan. 8irst *onnar swam from the inside of
the pond to outside through the duct. %fter he came out to the other side of the pond,
$ambakulan demanded that he should do the same in the reverse by going from the
outside of the pond to the inside through the duct. %s *onnar was capable of doing that,
he decided to swim from the outside of the pond to the inside. 1hile doing it, he thought
that $ambakulan had some other evil design in his mind. 1hile he was coming into the
pond, he also heard the sound of beating of the drum by $ambuvan signifying some thing
wrong happening at the *alace. 1hen he came out into the pond, he saw $ambakulan
standing on the end of the pond with a large stone on his hand ready to throw it on
$ankarDs head. %s soon as he saw what $ebakulan was about to do, $ankar took a magic
knife that he was always carrying with him and instantly aimed it at $embakulan. The
knife struck $ambakulan and he was killed instantly.
*onnar went back to the palace and came to know that most of his close relatives had
died at the battle at *adu 'alam. !e became very furious. !e decided that revenge of
'ali was the only solution to avenge the death of his beloved brother. $ankar took with
him all his soldiers and searched for 'ali in his village. 'ali tried to escape *onnar.
!owever, *onnar pursued him and found him. In the ensuing fight, *onnar killed 'ali
and avenged the death of his brother. $ankarDs soldiers defeated 'alisDs men and the
battled ended with victory for *onnar.
%fter death of 'ali and defeat of his men, *onnar went back to *adu 'alam. There he
witnesses his indomitable brother lying dead on a boulder after committing suicide. !e
could not tolerate the death of his only twin brother. "y the side of $ankar he found the
body of $ambuvan D their loyal soldier from their young days. %t a distance, he found the
dead bodies of all of his brother-in-laws. !e was devastated by the death of so many of
his close blood relatives. !e could not carry on with his life without them. !e decided to
seek the death of bravery as that of his brother and his soldiers. !e pierced his sword in
his chest and took his own life.
7nd of %rkani
%rkani, 'uppaye and *avayee were in the palace an,iously waiting to hear about the
result of the battle with 'ali. They came to know that *onnar, $ankar and other close
relatives are dead after the battle with 'ali. %rkani was shocked to hear the news and
decided to go to the battle ground to look for her dead brothers. $he asked her sister-in-
laws to .oin her. It is said that fearing what would happen to them after the death of the
husbands, they committed suicide by burning themselves in a fire.
%rkani left for the battleground along with some friends. $he found her dead brothers in
the battleground and was overwhelmed with grief. The description of her sorrow and her
lamentations over the death of the brothers e,emplifies the supreme love and affection
that e,isted between the sister and the brothers. The $tory of brothers is also a story that
e,emplifies the story supreme love and affection between the brothers and sisters.
$he cried uncontrollably singing the virtues and the e,tolling the brave deeds of her
brothers. %t that time, the local goddess *eria 'andiamman appeared before her in the
form of a human and consoled her. $he went to the body of $ankar and stitched the
wounds of $ankar and resurrected him by performing some holy rituals. *eri
'andiamman also resurrected the *onnar and $ambuvan.
$o what is the endD
It appears that everybody in Ponnar ? Sankar family is dead after the great battle.
That does not explain the establishment of the gounders hegemony in the area and
the spread of gounders in the ongu !egion. It is suggested that Ponnar survived
the battle and established his rule over the region "ith the help of #hola king. #hola
ing also helped Ponnar to expand his influen$e in the region. %e also helped
Ponnar "inning the disputes "ith hostile vettuva gounders that "e had seen in the
&ut the follo"ing are true.
Ponnar and Sankar is simply a legend of the region. They have been elevated to the
statue of 'od as there numerous Annanmar temples all over ngunadu. Annanmar
Temples are the landmark of the ongu region. (any other $ommunities $elebrate
Annanmar festivals "ith gusto and fanfare. Although gounders do not $elebrate
Annanmars as other $ommunities do) grounders do en$ourage other $ommunities to
$elebrate Annanmars. It is said that gounder $ommunities also $elebrate
Annanmars in some villages.
The theatre of a$tion mentioned in the story took is lo$ated at *eerappur) some ??
km from arur. The area "here Sankar $ommitted his a$t of bravery is lo$ated at
Padu alam