“Whats a Sarpa Kavu?” Nakul wanted to know.
Neil explained, “As a race we worship Nagas, and many of our mythologies also involves Nagavanshi or Race Of The Nagas. In olden times according to legend, when Parshuram threw the axe which created Kerala as you know it today, the snakes of the forest assembled and besieged him to let them stay on. It was arranged that the snakes would stay in snake coves along with the inhabitants. Hence you will still find snake coves in older houses in Kerala. ‘Sarpa Kavu’ literally translates to Snake Cove.
“Each snake cove consists of a Nagadevan and his consort Nagayakshi. Nagayakshi assumes more importance as in most Nair tharavadus in Kerala (Ancestral Maternal Homes ) people follow the matrilineal system for inheritance and power. ”
“The Nagayakshi hold immense vitality and power. They are symbols of benevolence and terror at the same time. A happy Nagayakshi will bring prosperity to the household while her wrath can wreck an entire generation from the same tharavadu.”