And he performs this sacrifice to the idol, and whoever desires to reign another twelve years and undertake this martyrdom for love of the idol, has to be present looking on at this: and from that place they raise him up as king." The king of Calicut, on the Malabar coast, bears the title of Samorin or Samory.
One of the desperados had a nephew of fifteen or sixteen years of age, that kept close by his uncle in the attack on the guards, and, when he saw him fall, the youth got through the guards into the tent, and made a stroke at his Majesty's head, and had certainly despatched him if a large brass lamp which was burning over his head had not marred the blow; but, before he could make another, he was killed by the guards; and, I believe, the same Samorin reigns yet.
And a new custom is followed by the modern Samorins, that jubilee is proclaimed throughout his dominions, at the end of twelve years, and a tent is pitched for him in a spacious plain, and a great feast is celebrated for ten or twelve days, with mirth and jollity, guns firing night and day, so at the end of the feast any four of the guests that have a mind to gain a crown by a desperate action, in fighting their way through 30 or 40,000 of his guards, and kill the Samorin in his tent, he that kills him succeeds him in his empire.
He "pretends to be of a higher rank than the Brahmans, and to be inferior only to the invisible gods; a pretention that was acknowledged by his subjects, but which is held as absurd and abominable by the Brahmans, by whom he is only treated as a Sudra." Formerly the Samorin had to cut his throat in public at the end of a twelve years' reign.
The dominions of the Samorin begin twelve leagues from Cochin and reach to near Goa. I remained in Cochin eight months, till the 2d of November, not being able to procure a passage in all that time; whereas if I had arrived two days sooner I should have got a passage immediately.
They have here many palmers, or coco-nut trees, which is their chief food, as it yields both meat and drink, together with many other useful things, as I said formerly. The nairs belonging to the Samorin or king of Calicut, which are Malabars, are always at war with the Portuguese, though their sovereign be at peace with them; but his people go to sea to rob and plunder.
But towards the end of the seventeenth century the rule had been modified as follows: "Many strange customs were observed in this country in former times, and some very odd ones are still continued. It was an ancient custom for the Samorin to reign but twelve years, and no longer.
Their chief captain is called Cogi Alli, who hath three castles under his authority. When the Portuguese complain to the Samorin, he pretends that he does not send them out, but he certainly consents to their going.
After the feast he saluted his guests, and went on the scaffold, and very decently cut his own throat in the view of the assembly, and his body was, a little while after, burned with great pomp and ceremony, and the grandees elected a new Samorin. Whether that custom was a religious or a civil ceremony, I know not, but it is now laid aside.