A funny story about the origin of Koottunkal family

Another story about the origin of the name "Koottunkal" is a bit funny. I had heard this story in my childhood as a teaser against Koottunkal Family members ("Koottunkans").

Once upon a time,there was a clever man (an ancestor of Koottunkal) lived near the western branch of Vembanadu lake. He was hard working and mainly depended on farming and fishing for a living. Every morning, he would go for fishing at the nearby Vembanadu lake, where fishes and clams were in abundance. He had developed an ingenious way of fishing. His fishing device consisted of a reed basket ("Kutta" in Malayalam) and some pebbles ("Kallu"). He would dip the "Kutta" (reed basket) tied to a rope, to the bottom of the lake and drop the "Kallu" (pebbles) into the "Kutta" intermittently. The noise from the droppings would invite a lot of fishes in search of food into the basket.

Whenever my ancestor dropped a stone to the immersed basket, the fishes that passed by would visit the basket to enquire it and stay there expectantly. Once the assemblage in the basket is found to be sufficient, he would lift the basket with the bounty of fishes in it. So, the name "Koottunkal" was derived from my ancestor's fishing tools - the "Kotta" and "Kallu" -> Kottem Kallum -> Koottunkal


  1. This “kuttayum + kallum” story had a definite origin, and was invented by one Mr. Ponnenkattil Thomaskutty, a neighbor of Kelamparapil family in Thycattussery. This gentleman was a rather well-known conversationalist in the locality, and was the repository of a large number tales; tales that, when they reached their denouement, used to make the women-folk giggle behind the doors, and the men-folk bravely keep straight faces avoiding eye contact. Usually these stories were told in such idyllic surroundings, like when the family and friends assemble on the veranda of the house after the mandatory evening prayer and a quick dinner.

    Incidentally the evening prayer at Kelamparampil was notorious for its subdued but ever present violence. Grandpa used to lead the prayer with a stern hand, a hand from which protruded a long ’chooral stick’ kept at the ready for emergency attack, and the children, mortally afraid of the Weapon of Mass Destruction descending on their skinny backs, used to cower in the corners of the room. The children were experts at multi-tasking, cleverly lip-synching the prayer sheltering under the stentorian voices from the front quarters, nostrils dilating and twitching in the direction of the kitchen to guess the fare for the dinner, the hands busy with various complex tasks such as counting the day’s collection of cashew nuts, rounded stones, chocolate wrappers, seeds, shells, marbles and those other treasures that usually made up the inside of the pockets of the shorts (or were they knickers, as we used to call them?) which we kids used to wear in those days, investigating the inside of the noses for hidden secrets, and throwing small pieces of stones, seeds and other missiles onto the back of the devoted group of people in the front, and eyes raptly following the itinerary of a beetle that had wandered into the scene and now was frantically trying to locate the shortest land-route to the outside world. But all fun evaporates, when, that great imitator of the soft-footed feline, the very same Grandpa who was visible right up there in front on his proprietary couch but now had appeared behind us from nowhere as if by magic, lays on the ‘chooral’ with the heavy hand…. (to be continued)

  2. (continued)
    Grandpa had another dreaded weapon which he could employ at will without moving from his couch: his toes, with which he could simulate an exquisite pinch. The toes were hyper-active during the evening prayer sessions. We took care to station ourselves at a strategic distance, outside the circle of action of these pinching toes.

    It was on the veranda abutting the prayer room that we used to assemble after the dinner for discussing the ‘news’, telling ‘film-stories’, and a bit of gossiping. There was that huge mango tree whose branches spread over the courtyard to the south of the veranda. A cool, lazy breeze will be playing among the leaves, and the moonlight lay on the courtyard like fluffy down. Mr. Thomaskutty was always somewhat disapproving of the bragging of ‘Koottunkans’ about their ‘kudumba mahatmyam”, which was, of course, a common fault among ‘Koottunkans’ in those days. Sometimes the disapprovals and the rebuttals resulted in exchange of words which are nowadays grouped under the category of ‘un-parliamentary words’. It was on one of these occasions Mr. Thomaskutty had that extra-ordinary moment of inspiration in inventing this “kottayum Kallum” story. The story in its original, pristine version was in the usual style of Mr. Thomaskutty. In other words it is not printable. The version given by tvk is a sanitized version of the real thing.

    Grandpa is no more and so is Grandma. The commanding figure of Grandpa and the diminutive Grandma, who was a perfect foil to grandpa in those days, are fresh in memory. The mango tree, the moon-lit courtyard, and those cool evenings are now only memory. Memory is a strange thing. It slumbers somewhere in the sub-conscious. One day you stumble upon it by accident, and you are surprised it was there, always. It is like a stack of old moth-eaten books in the attic. You pull out one; many more tumble out from behind that one. Sometimes you find among them a treasure, which you had forgotten you had put there…

  3. But I have heard another story behind the orgin of our house name... The Christian people who wanted to get one parish church at that time in their locality , need atleast 12 families in thier locality.. but as the christian poeple of Pala (kottayam dist) had only 11 families ,they invited a family from some other place and joined with them to get the parish..since the 12th family joined (kuttam) with the people of pala there by they came to known as koottungal.. sijotak@gmail.com

  4. however i have read somewhere that Tharayil Thommen Mappilai and two others went Meenachil Kartha for permission to build a church in Pala. Kartha told him if he can show four families in Pala who needed a church he will grant permission. Thommen Mappilai "kooda kooti" his younger brother from Puliyannur and collected sanction. This family is known as Kootunkal. Rest is history, Thommen Mappilai went on to build the Church staying in kartha's Srampi (two floor mansion) and recristianed himself as Srampickal Thommen Mappilai when the Kartha presented the Srampi to him in recognition of his services. We have celebrated the millennium in 2002 The yester century as Tharayil and other ancestries have been forgotten.
    Jooseph Srampickal