Pettiyum Parayum is a pumping contraption of local design. Made of wood and fastened with iron bracings, this is a low-head/ high-discharge mechanism used in Kuttanad for the last 100 years. "Para" is a wooden well in which an impeller (vertical fan) whose shaft when driven by a belt lifts water into a "Petti" (box). The Petti, also made of wood, is actually a discharge tube of rectangular section. The inventor of the contraption is Chembum-tharayil Zacharia of Kavalam village. Affectionately called 'American Kariyachan', the genius on returning from England after his studies, designed the so called 'Injun Thara' (engine & pump house). The Injun Thara, with the Pettiyum Parayum installed in it, was popularized all over Kuttanad region. They were used for de-watering the land's million paddy acreage.
On any given day, a 'kuttanad-an' mother working in her kitchen remained ever in constant dread of the scream
"Mama, … your child is drowning!"
For there would be a dozen of her kids playing outside amidst the chicken and ducklings, with unfenced waters all around. Throughout her entire life, always on alert for such an eventuality, a mother in Kuttanad remained ever ready to rush out and jump into the waters to save her child.
The other was a nighttime dread.
That of someone shouting,
"Lord, … your bund has breached!"
That warning shout, if it came anytime before the harvest, would mean that an entire year's crop was getting washed away. It would deprive them of not just their livelihood and grain for daily kanji during the coming year … but also the seeds for the next sowing. For it was only the bunds, arduously constructed out of clay and reed, that stood between acres of paddy on one side and the treacherous monsoon flood on the other; the bed of quickening rice standing six feet below the waterline.
Kuttanad Heritage Park
at TechnoPark, Thiruvananthapuram.
A Project presentation by Navodaya. In association with Shelton Pinheiro & Team, STARK Communications.
3. Kuttanad Museum - Animated Installations.
4. Stories of Kuttanad
- films of 20 minutes duration - dramatization of events that created Kuttanad.
(for details, see films section)
Featured above is one '11 - leaved dewatering wheel'. These man-driven-wheels were used in the paddy fields of Kuttanad from the time of the earliest settlements there. They were gradually replaced by coal/ steam engines in the 19th century, then kerosine engines and finally electric pumps in the 20th century. Erected along the water channels, starting with clusters of 4-leaved, 8-leaved and 12-leaved wheels, water was lifted up in steps till it reached the biggest 'four men operated 24-leaved wheel' that pushed a torrent out into the backwaters. Water was let into the fields after every harvest. The bigger among the 'kayals' would take couple of weeks of day & night labor to dewater.
Kuttanad - Kerala's rice bowl, is a 1000 square miles wetlands where the paddy fields are10 to 20 feet below the waterline. Just as in the Dutch dykes and New Orleans levees, it is the earthen bunds that prevent water from swallowing up vast tracts of the farmers' paddy cultivation. One single breach in a bund would wash away thousands of acres of their crop.
2. Bund Collapse - AR on Actual Exhibits.
Illustrations for Navodaya by Murthy, Sheker & RK.
a. Ila-Chakram (waterwheel)
b. Pettiyum Parayum
1. Bund breach മടവീഴ്ച
- a large screen 3D presentation. sound effects in multiple channels.
Background Plate. Oil on canvas by RK.
Tumultuous actions to be shot with live characters.
Actions to be keyed in with added visual and sound effects.
Listen to Radhakrishnan, Art Director (RK). (link youtube)
How the master intents to stage the mada veezhcha (bund breach) event.
In the year 1890, how Chalayil Eravi Kesava Panicker reclaimed 'Attumuttu Kayal’