Uppukottan is one of the 12 children of Vararuchi and Panchami in the famous folktale of Kerala, Parayipetta Panthirukulam. Vararuchi was a Brahman who adorned the court of Maharaja Vikramaditya of Ujjain and Panchami was a Paraya woman, according to Kerala caste hierarchy, she belonged to a lower category of caste called “Paraya”.Uppukottan was adopted and raised by a Muslim family in Ponnani of Malappuram district. According to folktale, all 12 children of the Vararuchi and Panchami were abandoned by Panchami soon after the delivery upon the request of her husband Vararuchi. All these 12 children were taken by families from different caste and religion and grew child as the cast and religion of adoptive parents. Mezhathol Agnihothri, Pakkanar, Rajakan, Naranath Bhranthan, Karakkalamma, Akavoor Chathan, Vaduthala Nair, Vallon, Pananar, Perumthachan, Vayillakunnilappan are the siblings of Uppukottan.

Uppukottan’s life

There are different kinds of sayings about the life of Uppukottan and its religion. It is true that Panchami gave birth to Uppukottan somewhere in Ponnani of Malappuram district, Kerala. He had an extraordinary skill in trading and business.He had a huge physiqu body which gave him the name “kottan” which means in Malayalam “huge”. Also there is another saying that Uppukottan had a hump on his shoulder which gave him the name “uppu”. Bull’s hump is commonly called as “uppu”.The common belief is that a Muslim magician, who performed simple magics in temple festivals, adopted and raised Uppukottan. Some oppose theory of Muslim relation with Uppukottan. Vararuchi lived during the reign of Maharaja Vikramaditya who lived in the end of BCE and beginning of CE which is 600 years before the birth of Prophet Muhammed. It is too hard to believe that a Muslim raised Uppukottan, but Ponnani and neighboring coastal areas had a predominant Arab population who came for trading. Many Arabs married local women and Indo-Arab culture was prevalent in Ponnani. There are chances that one of these descendants of Arabs who adopted Uppukottan. After advent of Islam in 7th century, most of these families might have converted to Islam. That is why folktale indicates Uppukottan is a Muslim.

Salt trading

Uppukottan evaporated sea water in Ponnani coast and made salt. He loaded heavy sack of salt on his head and walked all the neighboring places to sell his salt. He sold salt in Palakkad which is far away from coast, and procured cotton which was prevalent in Palakkad to sell Ponnani. Cotton might be a demand product in port city of Ponnani where hundreds of foreigners docked their ships for trading.

Miracles of Uppukottan

When Uppukottan was a young boy who lived with adoptive father (Uppukottan called his father “Baba”), there had a heavy downpour of rain in his village which devastated his neighborhood. A huge tree fell on the neighboring house and family was stuck inside. There were many people there but nobody could move the tree out of the house. The young boy Uppukottan penetrated into the lower trunk of tree, and raised the tree putting tree on his hump. Miraculously the huge tree was cleared from the house and all family members were evacuated.

Another miracle of Uppukottan was a magic he performed in a temple festival. His parent was a magician who performed simple magics in temple and trade festivals. A festival season came in and his father had been performing magic in this temple for a long time, but temple authorities and its head Namboodiri intentionally avoided Uppukottan’s father and hired another magician from outside. Spectators applauded for the wonderful performance of the foreign magician. Uppukottan and his parent were also present there. After the performance of riding on a flying  carpet, the foreign magician challenged people who gathered over there, to perform something better like his performance. He offered he will hand over all the prizes he received to performer if they do things like that.Uppukottan’s parent realised that the magician was pointing on him, but unfortunately he lacked such a talent. But Uppukottan accepted the challenge, and all the faces were turned wonder and whispered each other. But, abruptly several wild animal appeared on the performance area and started to roar and open their mouth. People were frightened and a panic situation were created. Everybody who gathered over there, ran away including Namboothiri and magician.

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