Around 15 years ago, thousands of people from across Kerala and neighbouring states used to drop in at Thathamangalam in Palakkad to seek the blessings of a child, whom they believed to be Vishnu’s reincarnation. To them, he was ‘Unni Daivam’ (little God).
Even though Kiran was his official name on the birth certificate, everyone called him Unni. Making headlines at the time, the number of devotees increased proportionately.
Confined to a room by his parents, all his time was spent in giving ‘darshan’ to the visitors, listening to what they had to say, and gifting them ‘holy’ ash.
But if you go in search of Unni Daivam today, all you will find is a 20-year old youngster who loves to roam around on his bike. He is no longer restricted to the confines of a room.
The Unni we meet has not completed even his basic schooling, much less, be able to wax eloquent about supernatural powers.
No more queues of devotees are seen in front of his house, though a few do drop in on the weekends to seek his blessings. Refusing to speak to TNM, his father Kittuchaami alleges:
“We have stopped allowing the media to take his pictures or videos, as it is only because of you people that devotees have stopped coming here. We know what the truth is….we don’t have to prove it to anyone.”….all this, as he keeps reiterating about his son’s extraordinary powers to anyone who cares to listen.
How Unni Daivam came into being
Unni was born in 1996 to Kittuchaami and his wife Parvathi -a farming couple. He was born 17 years after their first child -daughter Kripa.
The first sign reportedly happened sometime in early 2000s. Six-year old Unni applied ash -taken from the prayer room- on the forehead of a man who had come to work on his father’s farm.
The labourer later claimed that the moment the ash was applied, he was cured of his stomach ache.
“News spread and within a short time, several miracles were attributed to Unni. People streamed into the village, which too developed because of the sudden inflow of devotees.
As there was no road leading to his house, the locals got together and constructed one. Numerous shops were set up in the area. Mine too was set up during that time,” says Balakrishnan -who runs a small tea-shop nearby- while speaking to The News Minute.
Balakrishnan's tea shop
Many folklores surrounding Unni did the rounds, as to how he used to vanish at nights from his home, how he easily levitated, disappeared into the sky….and so on.
“People claimed to have seen him sit atop snakes like Lord Vishnu. From what I know, Unni used to give a patient hearing to the sorrowful tales told to him by devotees, and bestow them with ash. In return, they gifted him lots of goods, cows, goats and money,” recalls Balakrishnan.
He does not forget to add that the Chittoor MLA K Achuthan had a few years ago allotted funds to build washrooms for the devotees, who dropped in to worship their little deity.
Unni reportedly dropped out of school after about three years, so as to cope with the increasing number of visitors who waited patiently all day. According to Balakrishnan, it was Unni himself who declared one fine day that he was done with schooling.
“His parents supported his decision, which they felt was backed by divine wisdom,” he opines.
Suresh Babu -the CPI(M) Chittoor Area Committee Secretary- was quick to term the entire phenomenon a fake one.
“When his schooling stopped, the media had questioned the same. They were then forced to retract their decision. But after some time, the child was once again taken out of school.
The entire story is false. Their only intention was to make money. After people realised they were being taken for a ride, they simply stopped visiting,” Suresh insists.
And that was the end of the little deity.