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Kariyathan – Hindu God Worshipped In North Kerala

Kariyathan is popular Hindu god worshipped in North Kerala. He is a deity worshipped by hunters and those going for hunting into forests. Thus Kariyathan is a Nayattu Devata. ‘Nayattu’ means hunting. In some regions, he is a forest god (Vanamurti). In Keralolpathi text he is referred to as Eerpalli Daivam.

Eerpallis were special designated areas for villagers to meet and decide important issues. As per Keralolpathi text, each village in Kerala had a eerpalli.

Other eerpalli daivams mentioned in Keralolpathi are Vettakkorumakan, Kannilkkarumakan, Thalachilayon, Ayyan, Bemmurikkan, Kirimurikkan, and Thanniyadan.

It is believed that all these deities are Shiva Bhootas. Eerpallis had a sacred grove attached to them – they were known as nayattu vanam. It is believed that during the course of time Eerpallis became sacred groves and temples.

Kariyathan temples are mostly found in Kozhikode district (especially in Koyilandy and Chelannur) and Kannur district. Two of the famous Kariyathan temples in Kozhikode district are Kavil Kariyathan (Nattu Devata worship) and Malangariyathan (Vanadevatha worship).

There are some popular Kariyathankotta in Kannur district. The annual ritual of Tira Kettiyadal is very famous in these sacred spots.