Oct 21, 2011

Kothazham, a Village for Fools

If no interesting personal affairs happened during a particular course of time to narrate in your writing space with the adornment of fiction, the best thing you can do to save yourself from Blogger’s block will be thinking about a general idea. In this chapter, I am also going to do a somewhat similar thing.

Like some countries or cultures have certain places with phantasmagoric characteristics, for instance Thomas Moore’s Utopia (it is fiction by the way, not a part of culture), my state Kerala has also one such a legendary place in its vast repository of myths. Have you ever thought about a village for all idiots to dwell in? Or what it is like if all people coming from this village are morons? Well, you might have heard of the legend of two villages, located close to each other, of which one is for all hard working people, whereas the other for all the lazy ones.

But now we are talking about a village for all fools. It is a telltale idea – somewhat subtle and imaginary – about a fictitious village in Kerala, a South Indian state. The village name is very hilarious, it is called Kothazham, and now don’t ask me what did this word mean! Because it is as meaningless as it seems. In Kerala, if someone asks you, ‘which Kothazham you belong to?’, that means you have committed some huge blunder. 

It was during one of my studentship day camps, I came across an old, dust-ridden copy of a book titled, Kothazham Tales. Though I had heard about the word Kothazham many often, I never knew that this place was an imaginary one, associated with foolishness. I want to share you some of the tales which I learned from that book. Perhaps, you might have heard the stories in many other formats with citations referring to various other sources.

One day a Kothazham guy, on his return journey after a trip to a distant place, became very thirsty and came across a water-well located in a forest. Greedily, he drank water from the well, and found that the water in it was sweet. Since he was dying for a drop of water all the way, his senses had tricked him to believe that the water was sweet, despite of the fact that the water was of normal taste. Well, you may call it a kind of Rashomon Effect.

On coming back to Kothazham, he informed his friends about the existence of such a magical well, and they all set out a journey to the forest with a long and strong rope. In the next scene, they were all trying to bring the well to their village by tying the rope around it and pulling with maximum force. 

In another tale, a Kothazham guy had to entangle the edge of a rope on top of a nearby tree. As the agrarian people usually did, he tied a small stone at one edge of the rope, and threw it aiming the top of the tree. The stone, got entangled on the branch of the tree, and by misfortune it was a dry branch. Since the Kothazham guy knew that the rope with stone would fall down with the fall of the dry branch sooner or later, he climbed the tree, undid the knots of the rope, and put it down. He climbed down from the tree, and again began to throw it onto the tree expecting that the next time it would got hooked at the right branch that he was aiming at. 


  1. Brings a smile...

    BTW, I think Kothazham means a military barrack... I could be wrong. May be someone can clarify it for us.

  2. Ok, so thats the meaning of the word. I never knew this. A legendary village of fools. Nice.

  3. @Nona

    Yup..or the Tales from Kothazham

    @NRI Girl

    hmmm..thats a new info..Perhaps similar words have different meanings in different languages..


    Yes..a fictitious one..but nowadays people use it to mock each other

  4. Dear Tomz,
    thank you!
    We have some folklore here too that depicts "foolish people": "The 7 Swabians" (1545 by Hans Sachs) - they fight a monster till they recognize that it is - a hare. And we have "The Seven Idles" from Bremen (but they are industrious - they invent things and their neighbours always say: "You are only too lazy to go to the river and fetch water" when they invented pipes for a well near their house.) A hole village full of fools I know not of - but the 7 Swabians put their image-damaging mark on a whole German tribe :-)

  5. Ah...foolish tales...sounds interesting. we all have been to or sent some one to kothazham at some point in life. Nice post.

  6. Wonderful and interesting post.
    Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous Diwali.

  7. @britta,

    I was actually waiting for your comment. Because I knew U had something to say about whatever I write, especially since it was something related to legends..thanks for the comment..and sorry fr the delay in replying..

  8. @Rekha

    yes..actually everyone has some elements of kothazham..and sometimes we feel that we actually hail from such a foolish village..

  9. @Babli

    Thank u..wish u the same, though belated..:)


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