Mamankam festival or Mamangam festival is an age old festival of ancient Kerala, staged every 12 years and lasting 28 days, during the time of Kulasekharas (Chera dynasty) from the 14th century till 18th century. The venue of the festival was Thirunavaya, on the banks of River Bharathapuzha in Malabar, Northern Kerala in South India. The festival is remembered for the great trade fair associated with it as well as the bloody battles occurred during the festival.
Mamankam stands for ‘Maagha – makam’ which denotes a period of 28 days from the Makam star that appears in the ‘bright’ phase of the moon (the fortnight when moon waxes) in the month of Maagha of Saka calendar. It occurs once in every twelve years. During this occasion, various forms of sports events, martial arts, intellectual contests, cultural activities, rituals and folk art performances were performed on every nook and corner of the vast and wide sandy shores of Bharathapuzha. Pilgrims from distant places, trading groups and travellers from foreign countries like Arabia, Greece and China used to visit and participate in this unique festival. The contributions made by these visitors by exchanging vivid agricultural, architectural, as well as cultural innovations of their faraway lands have enriched the glory of this grand event. In the course of time the great ‘Maagha makam’ gradually became ‘ Mamankam ‘.
At the end of the rule of Kulasekharas, the right of Mamankam passed to the kings of Perumpadappu and then to the Hindu Nair rulers of Valluvanad. Later the Samoothiri of Kozhikode defeated the Valluvanad rulers in Thirunavaya Wars (14th century AD), resulting in long drawn rivalry and bloodshed between these two rulers. Though the Sammothiri was also a Hindu Nair, he had the overwhelming support of the Muslim Arab merchants which the ruler of Valluvanad did not have. The Samoothiri declared himself as Maharakshapurusha of the temple in Thiruavaya. From that day forth, the Valluvanadan king began to send Chaver Nairs to fight Samoothiri until death, and to recapture the right from the Samoothiri, who would stand poised at Nilapadu thara in Thriunavaya, surrounded by a large contingent of warriors.