8th June 2008, 10:17 AM
MAHARANI PASSED AWAY
KARTHIKA TIRUNAL MAHARANI OF TRAVANCORE PASSED AWAY TODAY MORNING. SHE WAS 92. HERE IS THE INTERVIEW WITH HER WHICH I TOOK ON THE EVE OF HER 90TH BIRTHDAY
A witness to a tumultuous period of history, epoch making Temple entry proclamation, people oriented schemes, and the post independence era, she is endowed with all good things of life.
Born to Ravi Varma Kochukoil Tampuran of Kilimanoor and Maharani Parvathi Bayi in 1916 as the second child and the only daughter of the ruling royal family which follows the matriarchal system, Her Highness shares the happiest memories in her life.
“My father, Ravi Varma Kochukoil Tampuran was a great Sanskrit scholar. Mother the Maharani was one of the rarest daughters of India. She was a combination of practical sagacity with much eagerness for the things that are more excellent, and one who demanded artistic perfection in music, in painting and in other fine arts. Every one knows that she exquisitely played on the veena. Her mind worked in flashes. Her words are not tunneled out of a rock but flowed from her in cascades.”
“Amma was a strict disciplinarian but never tough and obviously a perfectionist. My childhood was unique. Erudite scholars taught me Sanskrit, English and Music. I am fond of horse riding, tennis, and driving. Many incidents can be quoted to reveal the empathy Amma and Chithira Tirunal (my elder brother) had for the less fortunate. Chithira Tirunal and Uthradom Tirunal were my companions.” She remembers.
She carries many events and episode of her adolescent years growing up in the politically turbulent period both for the state and for India. The investiture of Sri Chithira Tirunal was an eventful episode. The promulgation of the epoch making Temple Entry Proclamation, the introduction of liberal legislative reforms, the establishment of the University for the state, and the initiation of a program of intensive industrialization were some of the highlights of his reign. He successfully coped with the economic depression of unprecedented severity, and helped the State march towards progress.
Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, taught her music. But she never performed before any audience.
Kartika Tirunal was very much interested in staging English plays. She invariably presented it when Viceroys and other chief guests visited Kaudiar. She had accompanied Amma Maharani to the West, against the popular belief that crossing the sea is a sin.
“Every one knows the position of Lord Padmanabha in the history of Travancore. We the women folk were the Vanchisevinis. I remember myself as a child treading along the corridor of Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple along with other female members of the family when the idols were taken out for Aarat. Until they return we would act as the care takers. This custom is no more in vogue today as we also reach Sanghumukham to witness the solemn and colorful Aarat,” reminisces Karthika Thirunal.
“My Pallikettu with Col. Goda Varma Raja took place on January 24, 1934 of the Kanijiramattam Palace of Poonjar Koikkal which traces its lineage to the Pandya dynasty. Our birthdays fall on the same day. If he were alive he would be 98 today. At Madurai Meenakshi Temple, the Poonjar family offers Udayasthamana puja on his birthday to this day.”
The construction of the royal Palanquin for the Pallikkettu , began on 23 rd of November 1933. The Kalnattu, which is 40 ft high and 15 inches in thick, was erected with the help of Chandrasekharan, the palace elephant. A huge pandal was erected to the south west of Thevarathu Koikkal, where cultural programs took place, recalls the Tamburatti.
On the wedding day, attired like a Chieftain the bridegroom with his entourage, arrived at the venue, at 9 am riding on elephant back, escorted by two other elephants, to the accompaniment of music, military band, cavalry and mounted police. The celebration lasted for a week.
Pooyam Tirunal Parvathi Bayi, Aswati Tirunal Lekshmi Bayi and Mulam Tirunal Rama Varma are our children. Sree Avittam Tirunal our eldest son passed away in 1944.
G V Raja was a born sportsman, and always aimed for excellence. He was a man of firm resolve. What we have achieved in the field of sports, aviation, and tourism are the results of his untiring effort, vision, and foresight.
“He established the Sports Council in 1954, the first of its kind in India. He did a mountaineering course in Switzerland, and enjoyed mountaineering at the Alps.
His mastery over Malayalam and Sanskrit equipped him to quote fluently verses from major texts” said Pooyam Tirunal.
Once while feeding the elephant with jaggery and coconut, the tusker attacked him. It is for the first time in many decades that he had been forced to remain confined to the bed for a few days together. He remarked thus: “I may console myself that it took an elephant to do it,” recollecting the incident, the Tamburatti explains.
With so many things in common, beginning with the birthday to interest in sports, it is but natural that when Karthika Thirunal remembers the years she tread softly on earth she shares with us her years with Col Goda Varma Raja, the Prince consort.
”Now I have become a great grand mother,” says Kartika Thirunal, in a way acknowledging her gratitude to Sri Padmanabha for this blessing of long life.
8th June 2008 10:17 AM