‘Exorcising’ a ghost to save a pond: Heartwarming story from Kerala University campus

The pond in the Karyavattom campus of Kerala University was abandoned by people, who believed it was haunted by the spirit of a young woman who committed suicide.
‘Exorcising’ a ghost to save a pond: Heartwarming story from Kerala University campus
‘Exorcising’ a ghost to save a pond: Heartwarming story from Kerala University campus
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When you enter the vibrant Karyavattom campus of Kerala University, the mood is usually light and festive, as in most campuses. But inside this campus, the mud roads lead to a mysterious place: An abandoned pond, Hymavathi, stands next to a ruined house in the middle of a forest. Surrounded by huge trees – mainly Aqasia – the place is usually dark, even when the sun is shining bright above the trees.

It is here that several people, over the years, have claimed to have seen ‘unnatural sights.’ And it is this place, mired in myth and superstition for far too long, that a group of students have started a grassroots revolution to renovate a pond that has the potential to be a source of water for the campus.

The myth of Hymavathi

The legend goes that the pond and adjoining areas are haunted by the spirit of a young Brahmin woman called Hymavathi. The woman is believed to have killed herself by drowning in the pond, after her lover – a lower caste man – was murdered by her own relatives.

The pond is in the middle of the 450-acre Karyavattom campus of Kerala University in Thiruvananthapuram. And until a few weeks ago, neither students nor the staff of the University would go near the place, in fear of Hymavathi.

The Karyavattom campus of the university was established in 1968, and ever since, this particular area near the pond has been abandoned. “People were very scared to visit the place since many believed that Hymavathi was present here somewhere. But we believe that this was a story spread by some miscreants, who used to come here to drink,” says Vishnu KP, Chairman, University Research Union.

Vishnu near the pond

In fact, even a Google search shows Karyavattom campus as a haunted place. Vishnu is not amused. “This is a university campus where students come to seek an education,” he says.

But all that changed on March 16. Around a hundred people gathered around this pond at night, lanterns in hand, to debate one question: Is the story of Hymavathi, truth or myth?

The discussion

The discussion was the result of an initiative by a group of students at the University, who decided to ‘exorcise the ghost of Hymavathi’ from the campus. The event was organised by the University Research Union and the Student Federation of India, aiming to quell superstitious fears and to renovate the abandoned pond, which can a great source of water for the campus.

“We thought we should put the myth behind and bring that particular portion of the campus back into the mainstream,” Vishnu says.

The participants included Parapsychologist and former Head of Department of Psychology at the University, George Mathew; Ahmed Khan, who represented, Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham; and Swami Sandeepananda Giri, the founder and director of the School of Bhagavad Gita. Students, techies from a nearby technopark, and local residents also participated in the discussion.

The two-hour discussion ended with people ruling out the presence of Hymavathi near the pond and the forest. The students were happy that they were able to convince local residents about it, too.

Even before the discussion, the student unions struggled hard to save the pond and renovate the area. As a result, in the beginning of March, Minister for Co-operation, Tourism and Devaswom, inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for renovating the area. The government also granted Rs 15 lakh to develop the area into a park and a hangout place for the students.

“There will be a lawn, a garden, and benches to sit. We will also plant fruit bearing trees around the pond. The Aquatic Biology Department will start some activities here so that the place is no longer abandoned,” Vishnu says.

The creation of the myth

Parapsychologist George Mathew narrates two stories behind the creation of the Hymavathi myth. “Years ago, two kilometres away from the campus, there was a small pond. A girl named Hymavathi had drowned there, it was an accident,” he says.

“The current pond was built later by the Aquatic Biology Department, after the campus was established here. When there was water shortage at the women’s hostels, the students used to use this pond for bathing and washing. Some women workers then warned them about Hymavathi’s spirit near the pond. Later, there was a murder case in the campus: A man belonging to the Nadar community was killed by a man from the Nair community. It was for personal reasons, and the incident happened years after the death of Hymavathi. However, both stories were combined and the myth became popular,” he says.

He adds that years ago, students had enacted plays based on this myth as well, and the story just kept spreading.

Edited by : Ragamalika Karthikeyan

Photos : Sreekesh Raveendran Nair

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