Aravalli - Suravalli - The Sorceress Queens

The story of the Seven Sisters


The story of Aravalli and Suravalli is set in the kingdom of Nelluru Pattinam, of which the title characters were the undisputed rulers. The story in fact refers to seven sisters but the reins of control were in the hands of these two women, who are described as sorcerers.


Like the ballad of Alli, this ballad also feeds back into the Mahabharata legend. While the Pandavas ruling Indraprastha are perturbed over the militant quality of these two women, who used both might and cunning combined with sorcery to ruthlessly crush all opposition to them, Bhima offers to conquer them. But Bhima faces defeat at the hands of these two women, who utterly humiliate him and send him back to his brothers.


The hapless Pandavas use the astrological skills of Sahadev to formulate a master plan against the two cunning women. The plan is to adopt their nephew Alli Rajan (also called Alli Muttu), the son of their sister Sangavathi, for the specific purpose of taking up the challenge posed by the sisters on behalf of the Pandavis.


Alli Raja, who is now the legal heir of the Pandavis, goes to Nelluru Pattinam. On the way, he defeats Ellai Kali, the local goddess who stands at the borders of the village and guards the villagers through her awe-inspiring presence. Kali is pleased with the earnestness of Alli Raja and his special mission. She therefore gives him sacred water (water sanctified by powerful incantations) and other assets like a magical horse.


The major part of the epic comes to an end with the humiliating defeat of the two cunning sorcerers Aravalli and Suravalli. The defeat is not through actual combat but in the defeat of Aravalli's cock by Alli Raja. The cunning queens of Nelluru Pattinam had so far managed to poison or meddle with their opponents' cock to bring about their defeat. The victory of Alli Raja's cock marks the end of this battle of wits in the arena of the cockfight. As a sign of their submission the two queens offer their adopted daughter Palvarisai in marriage to the victor.


Alli Raja initially suspects that the daughter may have learned black magic from her mothers but is eventually convinced of her goodness and innocence. The newly-wedded pair make their way into the forest where the bride in her innocence follows the instructions of her mothers and gives poisoned lemon juice to her husband after first intoxicating his senses with the fragrance of a poisoned bouquet.


Palvarisai discovers the deceit of her foster mother only when her bridegroom lies dead. She curses her wicked mothers and the land of her birth with the strongest invectives, including her curse seeking the destruction of Nelluru Pattinam by fire.


The story ends with the resurrection of Alli Raja and the burning of Nelluru Pattinam. Not only Aravalli and Suravalli, but all the seven sisters are disfigured by having their noses cut off, and these are strung into a garland and offered to Ellai Kali.