UGC MINOR RESEARCH PROJECT-2015
KONDOTY TANGALS AND THE EMERGENCE OF POPULAR CULTURE IN SOUTH MALABAR
Principal Investigator: Dr. K.K Mohammed Abdul Sathar
Dept. of History, P S M O College,
Tirurangadi, Kerala, India.
Kondoty, one of the recently formed municipalities of Malappuram district of Kerala, is a well-known ‘cultural artefact’ of south Malabar. Its history, culture and heritage bore the imprints of pluralism, tolerance, co-existence and liberalism. The advent and settlement of a sufi saint from Kardan near Mumbai during the last quarter of 18th century (1773) at Kondotty marked the beginning of a ‘new culture’ and system in the region. The sufi saint was Shaikh Muhammed Shah. Muhammed Shah and his successors are popularly known as Kondotty Tangals. In popular belief he is depicted as a wonder maker having the capacity of healing in case of physical illness and the ability to provide spiritual consolation in case of mental disorder. The power of doing miracles is attributed to him even after his death.
The settlement of the sufi order in Kondotty brought about changes in the systems and customs of the locality. Most important among them was the emergence of religious outlook based on liberal ideals. That invited serious criticism from the side ofMaqdoom-Jifri school. The dispute is known as ‘Kondotty-Ponnani Kai Tarkkam’ which ended amicably at the start of 20th century. Their patronage of nercha and various other cults caused for the emergence of a synthetic culture especially in south Malabar.
Foreign as well as indigenous scholars have been recorded partially the history and legacy of Kondotty Tangals.William Logan’s (Reprint 1981) Malabar, Rolland E. Miller’s (1976)Mappila Muslims of Kerala, Stephen Federic Dale’s (1980) the Mappilas of Malabar, A.P Ibrahim Kunju’s (1989) Mappila Muslims of Kerala, C.N Ahmed Moulavi’s and K.K Muhamed Abdul Kareem’s (1978) Mahataya Mappila Sahitya Paramparyam, K.K Muhamed Abdul Kareem’s (1964) Hazrat Muhamed Shah Tangal, Dr. C.K Kareem’s (1991) Kerala Muslim History, Statistics and Directory etc. are some of the studies dealing with the topic.
Besides the above mentioned published works, data have been collected from archival sources, mappilappattus and interactions and interviews with senior citizens of the region and the members of the Tangal family.
Major findings of the study can be summed up as following:
The coming of Kondotty Tangals from north India to Malabar resulted in the acculturation process of the region.
Their liberal religious outlook based on humanism and tolerance led to the rise of a new sect in Kondotty which has now days been found extinguished.
Kondotty Tangals earned respect and reverence from all sections of the people crossing the barrios of religion and caste which in turn strengthened communal amity and peaceful co-existence of different religious groups.
Kondotty has the distinction of being the only place in Kerala where the influence of Persian tradition is prevalent. A number of Persian manuscripts dealing with mysticism, philosophy, medicine had been kept in the record rooms of the Tangals. Most of them had been lost or ruined due to antiquity and negligence. Only a few manuscripts survive today.
Kondotty is also the seat of Indo-Persian art and architecture in Malabar. The qubbah, takiya and old residences of the Tangal complex is facing threat of destruction due to the disputes of succession going on among the senior male members of the clan. The dispute started just after the demise of the 11thTangal in 2011 which is now subjudice.
Kondotty nercha was the most spectacular legacy of Kondotty Tangals. It created a public space for around two centuries to people of all castes and religions. In connection with the nercha markets, centres of exchange, entertainment, arts and games, football matches, street magic, circus and carnivals, cattle markets, exhibition of household utensils etc were also conducted. It provided an opportunity for the buyers and sellers to transact without middle men. Nercha markets were famous for its honest dealing and quality of goods thanks to tangalspattakkar (armed bodyguards) who strictly monitored the goods and its prizes.