The headquarters of the Thazhamon family of tantris is located in Chengannur, central Kerala. They are the traditional priests of Sabarimala temple. In addition to Sabarimala, the family chairs the poojas in Aryankavu, Achankovil and Kulathupuzha. The installation of idols in these temples was also carried out by the priests of Thazhamon, who granted them a paternal status visa in relation to the respective temple. “Tantri turns a statue into a god,” says Tantri Kandaru Rajeevaru of Thazhamon, one of whom is Tharanallur, in northern Kerala.
The myth about the origin of these families dates back to the time of Sage Parasurama. The sage brought two able Brahmins from Andra to Kerala for looking after poojas at the 108 Sastha temples and 108 Durga temples who he had built in the State after creating it from the ocean.
On the way to Kerala, they arrived on the banks of the Krishna River. To test the powers of the Brahmins, the sages asked them to cross the river. The first priest walked on the stream on the other side. But the second priest stopped the flow of the river. Parasurama was pleased with them and gave them titles.
While the Brahmin who walked over the water was called Tharananelloor (Tharanam means to cross), the other priest was called Thazhamon (the one who walked on the river). Kandararu to the Thazhamon family. The late Kandararu Sankararu installed the current idol of Sabarimala.
The old idol destroyed in a fire was installed by Kandararu Prabhakararu. Kandararu Neelakantararu is the eldest of priests in Thazhamon. The others are his brother Kandararu Maheswararu and the son of his late brother Kandararu Krishnararu, Kandararu Rajeevaru. Each priest officiates the procedure once every two years.
The son of the family begins in the tantric world soon after his upanayanam at the age of five. The child observes three years of Brahmacharyam and uses leaves of dharbha grass on his body. This period is followed by Samavarthana Kaalam. During this time, the child learns vedas, mantras and other rituals.
After Samavarathanam, he will have to observe penance for one year. This is followed by a pilgrimage to Sabarimala as a junior Thantri. He starts perfoming Poojas only at the age of 18. Previously, he would have obtained the “Rahasya Upadesham” (secret and sacred advice given to the family member only at a given age). Even women in the family should follow certain practices: by the third month of pregnancy, they should begin to consume medicated ghee. There are several other traditions to follow in the following months.