Pushpaka brahmins

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Pushpaka Brahmins are a class of Brahmins in Kerala. They carry out the various activities of the temple, though not actual priestly activities. Pushpakas lived on the income of the temple and were under its care. There are four major subcastes within Pushpakas: Unnis, Nambeesans, Brahmani-Daivampati and Pilappallis.[1]


This class is generally considered as an intermediate class between Brahmins and Kshatriyas. The Pushpakas are believed to possess the attributes of both Brahmins and Kshatriyas. They are commonly known as Arddhabrahmanar, that is, semi-Brahmins. There are similar Brahmin communities found all over India: like Niyogi Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh, Chithpaavan Brahmins of Maharashtra, Bhumihars of Bihar, Mohyal of Punjab or Tyagis of West Uttar Pradesh. These are Brahmin communities which have the same status of Ambalavasis in Kerala.

Temple services

Pushpaka Brahmins were temple employees but they were not aristocratic like the Nampoothiris. In the past they resided within the temples in their quarters and were sustained by the temple. They were simple people who lived at the benevolence of the temple. The major temple services of Pushpakas are:

  • Teaching of non-Vedic scriptures such as Ayurveda (medicine), Sanskrit, Nyaaya (logic), and sacred texts such as Mahabharatam, Ramayanam in Pathasalas associated with temples and their own houses known as Mathas
  • Making flower-garlands for decorating the vigraha and the temple (Kazhakam | കഴകം)
  • Cleaning the inner-temple
  • Lighting of oil lamps in the tample
  • Holding the traditional Hindu-lamps in various temple ceremonies
  • Distribution of sacred theertham, chandanam, prasadam etc. to the devotees
  • Priestly duties to lower castes

Art forms

They have through the centuries developed several art forms of a religious or quasi-religious character. The major art forms developed and maintained by Pushpakas are:

See also


External links

  • Official website of Sree Pushpaka Seva Sangham
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