Beerankutty’s touch gives Kerala's Kottiyoor temple vessels a new glow

Arriving a month ahead of the festival, Beerankutty, a Muslim, cleans the copper vessels at the temple with the help of an assistant and and coats them with lead
Pandarapetti Beerankutty
Pandarapetti Beerankutty(Photo | Express)

KANNUR: When the Kottiyoor Mahadeva Temple was preparing for the Vaisakh festival, Pandarapetti Beerankutty was busy as usual, beautifying the vessels used for rituals at the temple. The 70-year-old resident of Kannamangalam, Vengara, in Malappuram district, who has specialised in lead-plating the vessels used for abhishekams and food offerings, has been working with the Kottiyoor temple for the past 20 years.

Arriving a month ahead of the festival, Beerankutty, a Muslim, cleans the copper vessels at the temple with the help of an assistant and and coats them with lead, giving them a beautiful sheen.

Beerankutty came to Taliparamba 55 years ago in search of a job and learnt the lead-plating craft from those engaged in polishing the utensils at the Kottiyoor temple.

His work is not just limited to Kottiyoor temple. Today, the vessels of many temples in north Malabar, including the Mananthavady Valliyur Temple and Tirunelli Mahavinnath Mallikarjuna Temple, shine with Beerankutty’s touch. He secures contracts by submitting quotations to temples under the Malabar Devaswom Board.

“I have been doing lead-plating work in temples for the past two decades. For me, it is not just a profession, it is a way of life. During festival seasons, I spend most of my time in temples. Temple committees arrange my accommodation and food. All these years, I have never felt any discrimination in temples because of my religion. This can only happen in Kerala,” said Beerankutty. For the temple committee, Beerankutty is an indispensable part of the Kottiyoor festival. “Beerankutty arrives here every festival season and cleans the copper vessels. We are not concerned about his religion or background. We are happy with his work. It is only due to the quality of his work that the vessels used for the rituals shine brightly,” said Kottiyoor Devaswom Board chairman Subramanian Nair.

Lead-plating of vessels and other utensils in temples is usually done during the festival season. During other times, agriculture is Beerankutty’s source of income. He is now preparing for flower cultivation ahead of the Onam season.

“It’s not like the old times. People have stopped using copper vessels. These days, I get calls only from temples and ashrams. I cannot support my family solely with the income from these works. So I ventured into farming. Now, lead-plating has become a part-time job,” Beerankutty added.

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