Vaaniya, Vaaniyan or Vaaniyar in Malayalam language, 'Baaniya' in colloquial Malayalam or Ganiga in Kannada language refers to the oil mongers originally settled mostly in the Malabar area of Kerala state and in old South Canara district of Karnataka state. The chief profession of the community is extracting oil by pressing Coconut or Gingelly (Sesamum) and marketing it.
Kuladevatha or the chief goddess of Vaniya community is Muchilot Bhagavathi. Goddess Muchilot Bhagavathi is also called as Annapurneshwari and the culmination of all scholastic abilities, courage and kindness. Muchilot Bhagavathi's qualities can be equated to diamond for the hardness and to the flowers for the softness. She is the all-pervading almighty, the source of 'Ashtaishwaryas' for the devotees.
One of the stories throwing light on the incarnation of Goddess Muchilot Bhagavathi goes like this. Many years before there lived a highly talented Brahmin girl at the "Rayaramangalath Mana" (a traditional brahmin house) of Perinchellur Village near Thaliparamba in Northern Kerala. Her indepth knowledge on Vedas and her scholarly fame infuriated the so-called male scholars of the contemporary society. They became envious and decided to put an end to the fame of the little girl prodigy at any cost. Hence to defeat the virgin girl, an elderly brahmin scholar called "Peringellur Mootha Gurukkal" and his disciples invited her for a scholarly session called "Naduvazhi". The scholars were defeated by the girl by giving apt answers for all the questions raised by the "Mootha Gurukal".
Apart from this they became mumb without being able to answer the questions put to them. As a result of this the scholars became more intolerant of her and decided to trap the little super scholar. As part of the ploy to cheat her and to get their intended answer they asked her three questions viz. “Which is the best of all Daanams”, “Which is the mother of all pains?", "What is the most ecstatic state?". She rightly answered them as “Anna danam”, “Labour pain" and "erotic state".
On hearing the answers, they gave their verdict that a virgin brahmin girl without having any self-experience, cannot give such answers and cruelly declared to the society that the girl must be not a virgin. They asked her parents to impose restrictions on her and to send her in exile. Fearing more action from the society the parents followed suit. The innocent virgin girl became very sad to hear the verdict of the Brahmins and could not bear the shock and prayed at the feet of goddess Rajarajeshwari of Thaliparamba, Payyannurappan, Karivellur Mahadevan and "Rayaramangalath Bhagavathi" and decided to selfimmolate herself to end all woes.
She made the “Agnikund” by using her divine power and in a profound grief readied to free herself from all the worldly cheaters by self-immolation. It is said in some of the versions of the story that, at this point of time when the brahmin girl was burning in the fire, a Thiyya was going on that way with a pot full of toddy. She asked him to pour the toddy on the fire (in other version of the story it is also said that the Thiyya was carrying firewood on his head and the brahmin girl had requested him to put firewood on the already burning fire to enhance the fire), but the Thiyya refused to comply with her request.
After some time when a “Muchilot Padanayar" (a Vaaniya community person) reached there. She requested him also to pour whatever there in his pot. The ignorant “Muchilot Padanayar" poured oil from his pot into the fire without knowing the consequences. In the resultant fire, she immolated herself and her divine soul departed to the Kailas. At the Kailas Lord Shiva blessed her soul with fatherly love and gave her some boons, a “Pallivaal” or sacred sword, some jewelry, asked her to go back to Bhooloka to free the devotees of their woes. Accordingly the virgin brahmin girl returned to the earth in the form of a Devi.
The “Muchilot Padanayar" returned home in a state of grief by seeing the immolation of the girl and kept the empty "Thuthika"(the oil pot) in the "Padinjattakam"(Pooja room), as he does usually. One day as his wife was drawing water from the well had a vision of the self-immolated brahmin virgin, who had returned from Kailas incarnated as Bhagavathi, inside the well in the form of a “Divya Prabha” or “Divine Aura”. She informed this miracle to her husband, the “Muchilot Padanayar".
In an astrological speculation the “Muchilot Padanayar" was told that the soul of the virgin had been sent back by Lord Shiva in the form of goddess Bhagavathi and that he should worship the goddess for his wellbeing. The “Muchilot Padanayar" happily returned home and informed the happy news to his wife and started to worship the goddess as his Tharavad Daivam or family god in his “Padinjattakam" or pooja room. The goddess is known as Sree Muchilot Bhagavathi.
Vaaniya community came to Rayaramangala Bhagavathi Temple with a “Thuthika” (oil pot ) full of oil as his offering to the goddess and stood before the goddess with folded hands. The goddess recognised the Vaaniyan and entered into his empty “Thuthika”. Even though the pot was empty it felt heavy to the vaaniyan. For his astonishment, he noticed that the pot is brimmed and overflowing with oil. He kept the pot at his Pooja room or 'Padinjatta'.
Astrologers opinioned that the goddess Bhagavathi has come to Karivellur by sitting in the oil pot and informed that there is a divine direction to construct a “Daivasthanam” or Temple to the “Muchilot Bhagavathi”. The devout “Padanayar” decided to construct a temple to the Muchilot Bhagavathi at Karivellur. A person called Panakkasseril Nambi offered land for temple construction. A temple was constructed there. This was the first Muchilot Bhagavathi temple. Hence it is called “Aadi Karivellur” (first Karivellur) . Thus Muchilot Bhagavathi, the Kula devatha of Vaaniya community or Gaaniga community stayed at Karivellur at the Karivellur Muchilot Bhagavathi Temple , a place at the southernmost end of Kannur district bordering Kasaragod district.
Even now at the house related to the temple (Pandara pura) the place where the “Muchilot Padanayar” had placed his divine oil pot or “Thuthika” is adored and worshiped as a sacred place with all its reverence. Also the sacred well (Mani Kinar) where the “Muchilot Bhagavathi” had shown the first sign of incarnation in the form of a divine light to the wisdom of the wife of the “Muchilot Padanayar” is also present near the Karivellur Muchilot Bhagavathi Temple and adored with utmost importance.
By - Shri Narayana Gosada,Neerchal
Visualization - Akshith Bellare