A WALK THROUGH CALICUT’S ANCIENT BAZAARS
A Walk through Calicut’s Ancient Bazaars 17 September 2016
Calicut, or Kohzikode, as it’s known today, has cast a long shadow in the history of trade. Strategically located on the West Coast of India, its location and people made it perfect for traders and travellers, from Zheng He to Vasco da Gama, to drop their anchors. The rich port had much to offer, with spices taking the front seat in negotiations.
A popular myth as told by Kottarathil Shankunni in his Aithihyamala recounts the prosperity of Calicut through the presence of Lakshmi in its marketplace. Around the year 1760, The Zamorin of Calicut complained of a sharp pain in his right shoulder and though he followed the advice of noted doctors, the pain would not cease. One day, a traveller who had heard of his predicament offered a solution – to keep a wet towel over his shoulder – and it worked.
When the Zamorin’s learned Dewan came back and heard of this treatment, he grew suspicious of the traveller and realised that something was afoot. He rushed to the marketplace, searched far and wide, and finally came across the person he was looking for – a graceful lady. He begged her to wait for him as he had forgotten something at the palace. After reaching the palace, he proceeded to kill himself and was thus, never able to meet the lady, who in turn could not leave the marketplace as she had promised him she would wait for him.
The lady here symbolized Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth & Abundance, who now has a permanent home in Calicut’s marketplace. By placing a wet towel over his right shoulder, the Zamorin had effectively driven Lakshmi away but the Dewan met her just in time. Therefore, as legend has it, Calicut’s riches grew but the Zamorin lost his position and wealth over time.
Myth Via Historical Alleys