The Mattachanda at Chendamangalam is a custom hundreds of years old

On the two nights before Vishu every year, the premises of Puthiya Thrikkovil temple at Chendamangalam glow with lanterns bobbing over a vibrant market scene.

A large number of visitors including foreigners stroll around the site balancing armloads of goods, which are rarely sighted in the modern-day markets.

The renowned Vishu Mattachanda, which concluded at the temporary market place here on the outskirts of the Ernakulam district on Monday, is an exciting achievement in carrying on a tradition that is hundreds of years old.

Exchanges monetised

Though bartering used to be the mainstay of this market, the exchanges here have been monetised gradually. In this market, of which the first day is known as ‘Cheriya Maattam’ and the second as ‘Valiya Maattam’, activities take place without a break even overnight, till everything is sold out.

‘No records’

“There are no records to show how old it is. It is believed to be at least 200 years old, when Paliath Achans, Prime Ministers of the Kochi Maharajas, used to exchange goods on the Vishu eve to celebrate the festival’’, said the 73-year old Raveendran, a local resident.

From terracotta utensils to grass mats, the goods displayed here represented the tradition of Chendamangalam as an important trade centre of the erstwhile princely state of Kochi.

The passage of time has not erased its fame as it continues to draw traders from places as far as Kozhikode and Palakkad.

In addition to a variety of goods, ‘Makudi’, an artefact made of coconut shell and leather, is the article that holds the USP status at this annual event. This is said to have been used to announce the conduct of the Vishu season by officials during the periods of royal rule.

“Even in present times, the item enjoys a huge demand as people even from far away areas reach here in search of it,” said Sreedevi Suresh, a member of the Chendamangalam grama panchayat council.

For the past many years, the panchayat has been taking the initiative to organise the event with the local residents also evincing a keen interest to make it lively.

On revival path

Notwithstanding the creeping in of modernisation in its basic character, the mood out here appears to be really exciting, clearly a silver lining for a custom that is on a revival path.

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