An Ancient Kalari in South Kerala: Cheerappanchira

// June 26th, 2011 // Cultural Politics

Cheerappanchira Kalari, Muhamma, Cherthala, May 2011

Kalari is a traditional school of learning, martial arts and indigenous medicine in Kerala.  Though its dominant,  Sanskritized and violent  applications by the Savarna or upper castes are linked to the militarization and feudalization of Kerala during the middle ages that established the Savarna high culture and hegemony in Kerala; its popular and Avarna or subaltern versions are part of people’s resistance, health care and self defense against oppression, invasion and domination.

Eastern block of the old Nalukettu at Cheerappanchira

The ancient Kalari at Cheerappanchira of old Karappuram or current Cherthala in Alapuzha district lying on the western banks of lake Vembanad to the west of Kumarakom and Pathiramanal  island is renowned for its legendary warriors and inclusive martial arts masters who even got the prestigious privilege of teaching their life saving arts to the mythical Ayyappan of Pandalam dynasty now enshrined in Sabarimala according to folklore and popular belief. It is interesting to note that Ayyappan also known as Dharma Sastha (a synonym of the Buddha) is also associated with the Buddhist past of south India.

A new house at Cheerappanchira

It is evident that the family heads called the Panickers of Cheerappanchira household traditionally practiced Kalari and were chiefs in the army of Karappuram kings from the early middle ages onwards.  It could be well assumed that their inheritance of letters, health care and martial arts is a lasting legacy of the shared Buddhist and Sramana heritage of Avarnas in Kerala who were treated as untouchables and out castes under the hegemony of Brahmanic Hinduism later as rebellious and resisting marginal people who never submitted to Brahmanism and refused to offer martial and sexual slavery to the ”twice born lords of the land” who could easily lure and convert kings and queens and some of the power hungry opportunistic sections who instantly served them to establish the regime of caste and untouchability.

Temple complex and pond at Cheerappanchira

Those who submitted to Brahmanism and offered it life long service and the notorious sexual colonies were absorbed in the hierarchical Varna system as Sudras, the fourth and subservient Varna in Chathurvarnyam and those who never submitted to the ideological and physical pressure of Brahmanism to become sex slaves and menial servants, foot soldiers/militia or henchmen were condemned as Chandals or Avarnas or those without any Varna or caste (those who are outside the Varna system).

Shrine of Ayyappan or Dharma Sastha at Cheerappanchira

According to legend Ayyappan the crown prince of Pandalam (a Pandya diasopora from Madurai) developed an attachment  with a young daughter of his master at this Kalari and she became enshrined as the Malikapurathamma at Sabarimala later at some period in the early medieval era.  It is clear that this ancient Avarna family of Ezhava community enjoyed remarkable familial connections with not only the Karappuram kings but also with the Pandalam dynasty and their western ghat regions as well at least from the 14th century onwards.

Blue Tiger butterfly on a yellow blossom at Cheerappanchira, May 2011

During the early and mid 20th century pioneering Marxist leaders like A K Gopalan from Malabar were given confidential asylum in this ancient household during their anti state campaigns from underground and he married a young woman from Cheerappanchira called Suseela who later became an early revolutionary woman leader of the Marxist party in Kerala and India.

Current head of Cheerappanchira household: Somasekhara Panicker

The current head of the household Mr Somasekhara Panicker has been involved in reviving the ancient Kalari for the last few years and is preserving the greater legacies and cultural heritage of the region and the household that has an important place in the cultural history of Kerala as a vital center of learning and life defensive skills in the vulnerable margin of Kerala that disseminated everyday knowledge among the people or the subaltern successively and successfully for centuries.

Wood carvings on the verandah of the Kalari house

During late May 2011 I visited the place and talked to this martial arts guru about the history and cultural pasts of the family and their indigenous practices for generations across centuries defying various waves of invasion and hegemony.

Wooden carvings on roof structure: Kalari house, Cheerappanchira

The discussion revealed the key role played by the family and the community in preserving and popularizing the native practices of physical medicine and health care among the untouchable and Avarna people of Kerala especially in the marginal coastal land of Muhamma, Cherthala and Alapuzha in general.

Pathiramanal island in Vembanad lake to the east of Muhamma

This great resistance legacy of the people at the bottom under extremely challenged conditions of nature and culture must be studied and analyzed in depth to reveal the omissions, erasures and silences in the cultural history of Kerala and south India.

Metal work on wooden door at Cheerappanchira

14 Responses to “An Ancient Kalari in South Kerala: Cheerappanchira”

  1. R.Sajan says:

    Alangad Yogam is the ‘father’s yogam’; and Ambalapuzha Yogam is the ‘mother’s yogam’. What connection does Ayyappan’s father have with Alangad, and mother with Ambalapuzha?

    Kesari Balakrishna Pillai’s ‘followers’ tell the following story:
    In one of his missions, Udayanan first plundered the Avalokiteswara Vihara for the treasures there and then proceeded to the Pandalam palace.

    At the Pandalam palace, Kaampillil Panikkar was the Commander of the forces. He was thinking of retirement due to old age, and was training his son at the Palace, to take over.

    At the time of Udayanan’s attack, the younger Panikkar was away somewhere and the old Commander could not fight off Udayanan.

    Udayanan overcame the Pandalam security and took away their Princess, who was the only sister of the King. Their mother had been married in from Ambalapuzha royalty.

    After some hours, the younger Kaampillil Panikkar turned up and was grief-stricken to hear about the Princess’ abduction. He immediately set off after Udayanan with his available assistants.

    They reached Udayanan’s camp at nightfall; and consensus was reached to attack at daybreak, for lack of light then.

    However, the young Panikkar could not wait, presumed to be due to his emotions for the Princess. And he stole into the Camp alone, and managed to take off with the Princess in the darkness.

    On their way back, the Princess who felt that her return would only cause loss of honour to the Royalty, and the consenting Panikkar decided not to return to the Palace, but to go into hiding and be together.

    Pandalam was ‘padma-dala-puram’, with ten ‘dalam’s or villages; one of which was Ponnambalamedu in the forests. The romantic duo decided to settle at Ponnambalamedu, away from public view.

    Eventually, they had a son, who grew up with the animals around, including tigers and leopards.

    In one of his hunting expeditions some time later, the Pandalam king happened to pass Ponnambalamedu, and found his lost sister and former Commander-designate. The King requested them to return, and the couple refused. The King then demanded that his nephew, the heir to the throne be given to him. This had to be acceded to, and the King returned after the hunt with a son from the wilderness.

    [Another version is that the King, enraged at the Commander-designate after hearing the story from the soldiers who returned to Pandalam, used to raid Ponnambalamedu often and was fought off by the Kampillil Panikkar. In the last expedition, Panikkar could not withstand; and the Royal party killed both parents of Ayyappa and set fire to the village. The King spared the child who was his blood-heir, and took him away with him to the palace.]

    Kaampillil is a Nayar family at Muppathadom near Eloor in Ernakulam district. Muppathadom and the surrounding area were parts of the Alangad kingdom.

    To get help against Udayanan later on, it was only natural for Ayyappan to go to Alangad and his father’s people. The subsequent story of the defeat of Udayanan in the combined attack by Alangad and Ambalappuzha yogam is known.

    Dr.S.K.Nayar mentions Kaampillil Panikkar and Mulleppallil Nayar as being members of Ayyappan’s Alangad battallion. Mulleppalil is reportedly Dr.Nayar’s ancestors as well.

    Two groups are now fighting in Court to be the Alangad Yogam, which position gives a lot of privileges at Sabarimala. One is at Manjapra, near Angamaly; and the other is at Alangad village itself. Both places were in Alangad kingdom in olden days. Manjapra group says that they are descendents of the Parvathyakar [pravarthyaar] of the Alangad Raja, entrusted with sending the Petta troupe to Sabarimala every year; and this right makes them the genuine Alangad Yogam. The Alangad set asks how people far away from Alangad village itself could be any Alangad Yogam. They say that the story began with Ayyappan’s coming to their Chembora Kalari for training.

    I learned of the Kampillil connection from informal talk with both groups; and happened to learn of Kesari’s version only later on. I went to Muppathadom and met the current members of the family. They have an Ayyappa temple which the locals call the ‘original Alangad Yogam’.

    The family has no male heir now. The 70 and above year old ladies that I talked to said that they are not interested in any Yogam recognition. One of them said her son had been the last male heir of the family. After the two other groups started fighting each other in Court over the title, one group sent goons after this heir though he was not involved in the title-battle. They attacked the house and terrorised the young man, who was a non-interfering KSEB worker. The trauma made him ill and he died soon after, while still in his thirties. ‘We don’t want any Yogam or its money, Sir; we want to be left alone’ were their words.

    I had been to Cheerappan Chira also; and was only happy to hear their story that Ayyappan was their family member, that 3/4th of his divine powers are in their temple and that Sabarimala has only 1/4th. The 3/4th goes to Sabarimala for Makara Vilakku every year. I think that their selling their version stronger would help Arthunkal Palli also. They have recently got an article published in the Mathrubhumi weekly to prove that Ayyappan was Eazhava, and son of one of their ancestors.

    At the Arthunkal Palli nearby, I was told that 1. the then priest of the Church [Rev. Fr. Velutha] only recommended and got Ayyappan admitted into Cheerappan Chira Military Academy and 2. Arthunkal Palli was founded by Ayyappan’s first cousin and real son of Pandalam Raja. Sebastian had been the prince’s Christian name on conversion by Zabor Easo at Nilakkal. That is how Arthunkal Palli is ‘St.Sebastian’s Church’.

    The Vellalas of Tamilnadu have in their own way, proved that Ayyappan was neither Nayar nor Eazhava; but is ‘Vellaalan Ayyan Ayyappa Swami’.

    I write this impromptu. By the way, did you ever read the 1920s-written Bhoothanaathopakhyaanam?

  2. R.Sajan says:

    Sorry for unattractive formatting.

  3. R.Sajan says:

    Avalokiteswara Bodhisatwa’s vihara is the present Sabarimala temple. Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang -c. 602 – 664) has mentioned this Vihara of the Malaya hills. Ayyappan renovated it with Pandalam Raja’s help. He lived and died there, according to some. Others say that Vavar trick-killed him.

  4. ram kumar varma says:

    During last decade of 19th century ie during 1890’s a man called C.V.raman pillai who was living kerala wrote a novel,a historical romance.it was one of the first novels in Malayalam.the novels name is marthanda varma-the famous king of travancore who enlarged travancore to a bigger country and made it strong with new revenue administration .he also weakened the feudal system there which was slowly emerged and formed from 14th century.C.V.Raman was very high caste spirited person (as was like many at the time.even now its said that nairs are the most caste spirited persons in kerala ).so he named all the important characters of the novel with surname pillai, some of the characters were real historical figures .they too were christian-ed with pillai surname.this novel was very popular and was taught in schools and colleges(even now) .many thought foolishly that it was the real history.but actually many characters were his creation which he thought needed for a love story.he knew many folk songs and from that he formed his own story.some parts of these songs are including at the start of each chapter.

    Many after reading this novel tried to read the history accordingly ,doing so they corrupted the real history.as all know kerala people is very caste spirited specially the upper class and christians.the caste organizations of kerala also tried to make profit from this novel.and thus when the real social history surfaces many people find it difficult to believe and accept.

     The author C.V.Raman was a learned man .but at his time travancore state government jobs were mainly given to tamil bhrahmins.new educated malayalees wanted to have jobs in government and they organised and started demanding this need.a memorandum was submitted to king which was signed by thousands demanding appointment of malayalees in administrative jobs of travancore.but it was rejected.later some relaxation was given.many ezhavars awere also signed in that memorandum including Doctor Pulpu ,one of the great reformation personalities of kerala,along with the nairs and others.when government began to accept malayalee youngsters to service,ezhavar and other castes were denied this right.it was like a 100% reservation for the upper class,mainly benefited by nairs.it aroused a new hate and separation between nairs and ezhavars who were now in obc list and were untouchables at the time. but ezhavars were already organised and actively taking part with the reform movements of sndp .nairs and bhrahmins lagged back and were clinging tight to the old customs.many learned persons from upper class including nairs and bhrahmins were actually part of the reform movements and were working even with sndp .eventually removements started in upper class and new organisations were formed.nairs were so few in number.so many small castes , sects and groups joined together and took the umbrella name nairs and formed the organistion named nair service society(nss).after the formation of nss many sects were included in it.eventhough it was a organization meant for the modernization or civilizisation as explained by its leaders at that time ,it eventually became involved in politics after independance and is the most benefited caste organization in kerala.

  5. ram kumar varma says:

    There are some popular beliefs in kerala .even historians are not free from these prejudices .one such prejudice is nairs were the sole warriors or soilders in kerala during the earlier period.can it be true by any means.actually answer is no.one european person who were in kerala during the middle of 1700s wrote that ,there were some 15 lakh soilders in kerala.he gives the army strength of each princely states eg 50000 regular army in travancore,another 1lakh using traditional weapons.samudhiri had some 50000 to 75000.kochi had 35000 and palakkad raja had 20000etc.this goes on and on.even that list was not complete.but we know even in the census taken in the last decades of 1800s ,the total savarna population was less than 10%.to sustain a 15lakh army is not easy.even india in 21st century find it too expensive.and population strength is one main concern.any country can rise a army which will be some 5% to 10% of its youths population.may be the kerala armies were not regular armies.still 15 lakh soilders is not so easy to be formed from a section of the society which forms only a minority of the society.but we shall better look at the records and make an understanding of the actual fact.

    palace records does not use the word nair army.samudiri granda varikal never refer to nair army.the word used is lokar.why would they have not used the word nair pada,if it the usual usage or the pada was actually consists of nairs.they should have used it surely .but the reason is evedent the then army was not consists entirely of nairs.samudhiri letters have also been found.in it also he never used the word nair pada.there also he used the word lokar.the famous naval battles fought during that time was betteen portugeese and naval army of samudhiri led by marakkar .the naval army was mainly consists of mappilas.
    there is one incidant,once a portugeese army group invaded calicut and marched upto samudiris palace.samudiri was not there ,nor his army.lokar or people around the place or in the city got alert and attacked the portugese.many portugeese were wounded and some killed ,portugese were forced to return to their ships,never again they dare to do such a thing.majority of people in calicut city are ezhavas or thiyyas,even now.if there is another major group its the muslims.(mukkuvar or deevara are also there.but lesser in beech area compared to more southern and norther parts.also muslims were converted from ezhava and deevara families for serving in navy. )the greatest lord (or family )in calicut that time was a ezhava having granded many titles and positions from samudiri.when haider attacked calicut this lord came to see haider ali and presented gifts before him and requested to spare the people of calicut.while samudhiri family and many brahmin familes fled to travancore.

  6. ram kumar varma says:

     The author C.V.Raman was a learned man .but at his time travancore state government jobs were mainly given to tamil bhrahmins.new educated malayalees wanted to have jobs in government and they organised and started demanding this need.a memorandum was submitted to king which was signed by thousands demanding appointment of malayalees in administrative jobs of travancore.but it was rejected.later some relaxation was given.many ezhavars awere also signed in that memorandum including Doctor Pulpu ,one of the great reformation personalities of kerala,along with the nairs and others.when government began to accept malayalee youngsters to service,ezhavar and other castes were denied this right.it was like a 100% reservation for the upper class,mainly benefited by nairs.it aroused a new hate and separation between nairs and ezhavars who were now in obc list and were untouchables at the time. but ezhavars were already organised and actively taking part with the reform movements of sndp .nairs and bhrahmins lagged back and were clinging tight to the old customs.many learned persons from upper class including nairs and bhrahmins were actually part of the reform movements and were working even with sndp .eventually removements started in upper class and new organisations were formed.nairs were so few in number.so many small castes , sects and groups joined together and took the umbrella name nairs and formed the organistion named nair service society(nss).after the formation of nss many sects were included in it.eventhough it was a organization meant for the modernization or civilizisation as explained by its leaders at that time ,it eventually became involved in politics after independance and is the most benefited caste organization in kerala.

    Ananadha padmanabhan is the central or hero of the novel mathanda varma written by C.V.Ramana.this character again appears in another novel by the same author.the marthanda varma novel is also love story between anadha padmanabhn and a nair girl.anantha padmanabhan is a trusted friend and companion of marthanda varma.he is very good in arms and is a good warrior.he saves the king many times from the hands of ettuveetil pillamar.another family is also comes into importance in the novel .it is the mangoikkal family.marthanda varma was saved by that family and in that act the family house was burned down.they helped marthanda varma escape from the enimies and he stays in their family.but the enemies suspecting this attacked the house ,but they were stopped by the paraya (another caste now in scheduled list) soldiers and others of the mankoyikkal family.enemies tried to kill marthanda varma by setting fire to the house but bharathan channan or anantha padmanabhan saves the marthanda varma.in the novel ananthapadmanabhan is made nair by making him the son a thirumukkathu pillai.mankoyikkal family is also made nair by using the word kurup and pillai surnames to its family members some of whom also appears in his another novel dharma rajah.

  7. ram kumar varma says:

    in reality the anantha padmanabhan is a historic figure and belonged to channar community.his house still exists in kanyakumari district which was constructed by him during the period of marthanda varma king.he was the caprtain of the body guard battallion which included 36 warriors who were all channars selected personnaly by marthanda varma.he was a great friend of marthanda varma and served the king as his minister and army commander.actually he helped marthanda varma is securing the support of channar and nadar community to fight against the madampis of travancore who helped the thampis in their claim to thrown.these powerful feudal lords were trying to kill the marthanda varma.anantha padmanabhan died in the year 1953 after the establishment of travancore kingdom.

    the mankoyikkal family also existed and their house too is in kanyakumari district of tamilnadu.kanyakumari was part of the travancore kingdom till 1956.they belonged to channar caste.now the channar caste name is not used.the channar caste and nadar caste combined together in 1925 and is now a single caste.they too held high posts in the period of marthanda varma and rama varma.its likely that they were given the title kurup as they trained soldiers.king marthanda varma also formed a title called chempaka raman pillai which was given to the most eminent personnalities who helped in the government.this title was given to these two families.

    the word ettuveetil pillamar too was coined by C.V.Raman pillai and got popular in such a way that all, even historians use the same word.but they were not all pillais or anyone of them belonged to caste vellala pillai who now use the surname pillai.these eight houses were very powerful feudal lords and they held influencial posts .ramana madam and pallichal were ministers of attingal soverign of which ramana madom was a bhrahmin family.kulathoor and chempazhanthi were ezhava families.the arms trainer or kalarippayattu teacher of kazhakuttom was an ezhava man named kesava panikker.later he left from kazhakuttom with his diety whom he worshiped to another place called thozhuvancode where he established a temple now known as thozhvancode devi temple.its priests are even today members of his family and those families related to him and also they belonged to ezhava family.there is no bhrahmin priests in that temple.the word used in the old documents for mentioning these people are ettuveetil madampimar and not ettuveetil pillamar.in the document which mention the punishment of these madampis only 4 houses are stated.the reason is that all were not supporters for the eliminations of marthanda varma.because of the popularity of the word ettuveetil pillamar ,through the novel many people thought that all the pillais or nairs were against marthanda varma and it was a fight against nairs and the ruling family and in the fight nairs lost.

  8. ram kumar varma says:

    the novel was so influencing that many not only historians but also the intellectuals of communist party too were misguided so much that in the books written by them , they mention this as the mass or people revolt against the ruling class or marthanda varma.it also made people to think that nairs were the controlling the state affairs and all the powerful land lords or atleast all the powerful lords were nairs who used to keep a sur name as pillai.this also created a new story that nairs of travncore were against marthanda varma and as ruler he crushed them.this was really not the actual case.nor the nairs were anywhere near to be called powerful for they were so few in number in kerala and travncore.only after the formation nss many castes which were not actually considered nairs were included and thus the number of nairs have increased.earlier these castes were having (still now) seperate caste names and considered nairs to be so much lower to them that even touching them was not allowed.but they used to appoint nairs for their house hold works,but still they were kept aside.the water touched by a nair was not considered good to drink by them (because of the untouchablity practised at the time) doing so was punishable with bhrasht meaning throwing out from their caste and denying all the rights,which included social out casting.even today many castes which joined with nss(nair service society) consider themselves higher than nairs and dont like to got together with so called nairs, eventhough many times they dont use their old sub caste title but generally considered as nairs by others.marriages are not encouraged amoung them or they dont prefer to make an aliance from the nairs.pillais of trivandrum also are part of the nss ,they too are considered as nairs generally.but they use the surname as pillai and not nair.the caste name is vellala pillai.marriages doesnot occur between these castes.in southern districts nairs castes itself is considered as two types.one higher and other lower.generally speaking higher traditionally possess more lands.they generally distance away from the lower nairs.higher nairs generally doesnot support rss or hindu fundalmentalist organisations and movements.

    Additions and method of changing caste of characters,and alloting caste historical person done by C.V.Raman was later criticized by many others later.but generally that critics literature is not popular among the masses.any way many persons before and after C.V.Raman had done the same thing .alloting castes to 18 siddhars of tamilnadu is one such example ,done by those who transilated their works to malyalayam.this has happened in recent past ,from 70’s to till date.many who reads these works only were easily fall to belive that they belonged to that caste or at time of these historic perosns caste system existed and was strong as in later years.even now some new papers knowingly or unknowingly put caste names to persons when they write a feature about historic events.examples can be seen even now in 2012.

  9. ram kumar varma says:

    that book stired confidence in nairs and helped to feel pride.the reasons are many.nairs were called as malayala sudras or the most downward caste in the varna system ,by the bhrahmins of kerala .ealier it was like a pride for the nairs as they were considered in side the varna system and some what part of hindus as they were allowed to enter the temple eventhough with some restrictions.these restriction include denial of ringing bell which was considered sacred,were never allowed to touch or come near the priest,nor were allowed to touch the offerings ,not allowed to enter the place were cooking of dishes meant for offerings.they were also had to move away when the priest come with things for worship.still it was considered as good as many other castes who forms now the majority of hindu religion now were not allowed even to enter the temple.also the bhrahims considered nairs as their servents who were obliged work for them sometimes even without wages.anything given to them were mere the great kindness of the bhrahmins.nair womens were the main maid servents doing house hold works in bhrahmin familes.the nair women were also had to submit to bhrahmins for sex if he desired so.if a bhrahmin comes to a nair house ,he can mate with any women he desires.it was the custom and considered as sacred and blessing.nairs also practiced polygamy ie having more number of husbands(i dont know the correct word in english .the word used popularly with somewhat nicely is sumbandakar meaning men in relation).anyone from bhrahims to nairs can have relation with a nair woman if he desires so.even an order of proclaimation from a travancore king declairing that those nair women who does not submit to wishes (sextual) of men from bharahmins to nairs shall be considered leading an unholy life which is punishable.it is difficult for a nair lady to live alone or with her lover or single husband.if an influencial person desires ,there is nothing she can do.out of the childrens born ladies will get more importance as the children of that girls shall be the next rightful heir of the family.this was because with this system no nair man can declaire strongly that he is the father of a kid for the kids mother had many men mating with her.but the mother of a kid can be identified much more easily as she delivers a kid which have witnesses and there by proof .because of this practise ,which was practiced mainly by nairs,the childrens doesnot know who their father was.it was not a problem till the 20th century.but after that due to reform movements and spread of education this custome began considering to be a shame to them.many great reformers fought against this system .this system does not exists now and is even unlawful.

    the customs ,practices and even the houses were built according to these needs.those who were wealthy were able to built bigger houses.these big houses built by the nairs have some specialty.the steps leading to the second floor starts right from the veranda.this was to help those visitors or sambandakars.they dont have to enter the house ,they can easily go to the second floor and enter their favourite woman’s room.these type of houses can be seen still in many parts of kerala.the namboothiri houses too have some peculiarity.that part where homas are done doesnot have second floor that was to avoid filling of smoke into the second floor.nairs where the main servants of the namboothiri families without them it was difficult for the bhrahmins to maintain their houses.namoothiris called nairs valyakkar(servents),adiyars(slaved like servants) ,sudras(lowest in varna system) etc.this was also considered by the nairs as a great thing they have pride in telling others that they were the adiyars of that or this mana(house of naboothiri).

  10. ram kumar varma says:

    further the customs followed by the namboothiri families were so ridiculus and now it seems unbelivable and nowadays they too feel shame to tell all that.but it is the true past and nothing to gain from concealing and covering it.reformation movements which started in india has changed the most degraded society of india and also it has helped to better the lives of all ,also the indian independence too was the result of such movements.that all movements helped people to come together ,meet and discuss the problems in the society.open talking was the base thing for the progress.but there were practices of untouchability.if a bhrahmin touches a nair it was taught he gets poluted and have to do penance and bathing .there were others such as ezhavar,thiyyar,pulayas etc whom if the namboothiri come closer beyond some limit then the namboothiri had to bath before he enter his house or temple.these namboothiris were commonly the priests of the temples belonging to the ruling family and other savarnas.there were worshiping systems and places for the ezhavars and thiyyas ,it was some sort of small temples ,but there all the poojas and worships were conducted by the persons from amoung them.pulayar and parayar were also had some form of worshiping .their main worshipping figure was goddess nowadays considered as kali(kali was a common name amoung them from very early period).they too perfomed poojas themselves.it may be interesting to point out here that kali was the cheif goddess worshipped by the warriors of india.eventhough pulayar and parayar were considered to the most downward caste earlier,actually they had a golden past.the words pulayar and parayar were in use in early times of sangam age when these were the names associated people who were the main men nearer to the then kings.sangam literature depicts of pictures of possessions of kings accompanied by pulayar and parayar.also modern researches shows that many places in kerala had kingsor rulers belonging to this caste.even today in second decade of 21st century they are the ones who raise the pride of kerala by winning medals in athletics and other strenious sports.

    The savarnas( the term was mainly used by namboothiris to denote themselves earlier) were much interested in creating castes and new subcastes.this created a lot of subcastes amoung the so called upperclass.bhrahmins of kerala was also divided by different subcastes.the top most is the wealthy namboothiris called as addyians and poor was called aasiyans. As found every where poor did’t got much respect and their situation did’t improved much. They were given jobs to assist wealthy namboothiris as servants.in the 20th century there were many namoothiri hotels which served food for money.but at first they were mainly intented for the bhrahmins,some permitted upto nairs but for them seperated place and plates were used.but avarnas were not served there.at that time all the workers in these hotels were namboothiri. Later it these namboothiri hotels meant reduced to the hotel name ,that means the workers were taken from all castes even from other religion too. All were allowed to dine there.

  11. ram kumar varma says:

    Even with social status and wealth the customs of bhrahmins of kerala was too pathetic. Only the first son of the family was allowed to marry.other sons have no right to marry.but they can mate with any women upto nairs. Not all but some kshatriya families of kerala were ready to allow their ladies to enter in relation with these namboothiris . the most infamous amoung these family was the cochin rulers or thrippunithura kovilakam.these practice created a lot of branches headed with seperated women. The namoothiris which entered in relation with these royal families were like in service or like given job.they were treated well money was given to them and to their familes. Ofcourse these money came from the state treasury and to the treasury from the working people.the income generating people were the farmers , traders and few industrialists.they made the majority of kerala population and consists mainly of so called avarnas which included ezhavar,pulayar and others.but they were not given recognition and rights. Ezhavars which forms the largest community of kerala is belived to be the Buddhist followers earlier.learning institutes were maintained by them which offered studying sanskrit and tamil languages. Medical treatment was one of their main occupation.anyone who is brilliant enough to learn sanskrit and medicine was allowed to learn in these institutes and can become a doctor. They were revered by the royal families and the namboothiris even during the period of untouchabilities. But the rules for untouchability was always relaxed when question of survival and workability comes.numerous stories and court case records shows these practices. Trade and factories were mainly run by the members belonged to this caste.

    the ambalavasi caste in kerala is that caste consists of people who were living doing jobs related to temples.this caste consists numerous subcastes.they doesn’t were the owners or authorities of the temples but were doing the jobs such as cleaning,sweeping,singing,using drums and other instruments etc.they were not allowed to do the poojas which was done mainly by the bhrahmins.the bhrahmins many times were the authorities of these temples and they were the people who handle the income to the temple.at that time the temple income was mainly from the state treasury,given by the kings.this helped the owners or namboothiris to live well without necessary for doing any useful work.those persons living with jobs related to temples or ambalavasis were actually were dependentant on bharhmins as they can be denied job at any stage by these bhrahmins.so naturally they tried to keep the bhrahmins satisfied.they too practised the sambandam or were ready to entertain namboothiris with their women lot.bhrahmins entered into sambandan or a concubineship with these familes.it was not considered or accepted as marriage by the bhrahmin comunity.still the ambalavasis prefered to get a bhrahmin relation for their woman. this was way they have found to keep their job secure and income intact.so they prefer to have bhrahmin relative.if the namboothiri was a learned man and have income it was an added advantage for them.but generally if not all ,the members of ambalavasi castes are very poor and lagged behind in kerala.this was not because of any social backwardness but because of their way living superstitions.many tend to pursue their traditional occupation which have less income.their reluctance to modern education was also another reason.still they are not too poor to live as they can live by finding job and food from the temples even now.

  12. surendran says:

    the novel was so influencing that many not only historians but also the intellectuals of communist party too were misguided so much that in the books written by them , they mention this as the mass or people revolt against the ruling class or marthanda varma.it also made people to think that nairs were the controlling the state affairs and all the powerful land lords or atleast all the powerful lords were nairs who used to keep a sur name as pillai.this also created a new story that nairs of travncore were against marthanda varma and as ruler he crushed them.this was really not the actual case.nor the nairs were anywhere near to be called powerful for they were so few in number in kerala and travncore.only after the formation nss many castes which were not actually considered nairs were included and thus the number of nairs have increased.earlier these castes were having (still now) seperate caste names and considered nairs to be so much lower to them that even touching them was not allowed.but they used to appoint nairs for their house hold works,but still they were kept aside.the water touched by a nair was not considered good to drink by them (because of the untouchablity practised at the time) doing so was punishable with bhrasht meaning throwing out from their caste and denying all the rights,which included social out casting.even today many castes which joined with nss(nair service society) consider themselves higher than nairs and dont like to got together with so called nairs, eventhough many times they dont use their old sub caste title but generally considered as nairs by others.marriages are not encouraged amoung them or they dont prefer to make an aliance from the nairs.pillais of trivandrum also are part of the nss ,they too are considered as nairs generally.but they use the surname as pillai and not nair.the caste name is vellala pillai.marriages doesnot occur between these castes.in southern districts nairs castes itself is considered as two types.one higher and other lower.generally speaking higher traditionally possess more lands.they generally distance away from the lower nairs.higher nairs generally doesnot support rss or hindu fundalmentalist organisations and movements.

    Additions and method of changing caste of characters,and alloting caste historical person done by C.V.Raman was later criticized by many others later.but generally that critics literature is not popular among the masses.any way many persons before and after C.V.Raman had done the same thing .alloting castes to 18 siddhars of tamilnadu is one such example ,done by those who transilated their works to malyalayam.this has happened in recent past ,from 70’s to till date.many who reads these works only were easily fall to belive that they belonged to that caste or at time of these historic perosns caste system existed and was strong as in later years.even now some new papers knowingly or unknowingly put caste names to persons when they write a feature about historic events.examples can be seen even now in 2012.

  13. surendran says:

    further the customs followed by the namboothiri families were so ridiculus and now it seems unbelivable and nowadays they too feel shame to tell all that.but it is the true past and nothing to gain from concealing and covering it.reformation movements which started in india has changed the most degraded society of india and also it has helped to better the lives of all ,also the indian independence too was the result of such movements.that all movements helped people to come together ,meet and discuss the problems in the society.open talking was the base thing for the progress.but there were practices of untouchability.if a bhrahmin touches a nair it was taught he gets poluted and have to do penance and bathing .there were others such as ezhavar,thiyyar,pulayas etc whom if the namboothiri come closer beyond some limit then the namboothiri had to bath before he enter his house or temple.these namboothiris were commonly the priests of the temples belonging to the ruling family and other savarnas.there were worshiping systems and places for the ezhavars and thiyyas ,it was some sort of small temples ,but there all the poojas and worships were conducted by the persons from amoung them.pulayar and parayar were also had some form of worshiping .their main worshipping figure was goddess nowadays considered as kali(kali was a common name amoung them from very early period).they too perfomed poojas themselves.it may be interesting to point out here that kali was the cheif goddess worshipped by the warriors of india.eventhough pulayar and parayar were considered to the most downward caste earlier,actually they had a golden past.the words pulayar and parayar were in use in early times of sangam age when these were the names associated people who were the main men nearer to the then kings.sangam literature depicts of pictures of possessions of kings accompanied by pulayar and parayar.also modern researches shows that many places in kerala had kingsor rulers belonging to this caste.even today in second decade of 21st century they are the ones who raise the pride of kerala by winning medals in athletics and other strenious sports.

    The savarnas( the term was mainly used by namboothiris to denote themselves earlier) were much interested in creating castes and new subcastes.this created a lot of subcastes amoung the so called upperclass.bhrahmins of kerala was also divided by different subcastes.the top most is the wealthy namboothiris called as addyians and poor was called aasiyans. As found every where poor did’t got much respect and their situation did’t improved much. They were given jobs to assist wealthy namboothiris as servants.in the 20th century there were many namoothiri hotels which served food for money.but at first they were mainly intented for the bhrahmins,some permitted upto nairs but for them seperated place and plates were used.but avarnas were not served there.at that time all the workers in these hotels were namboothiri. Later it these namboothiri hotels meant reduced to the hotel name ,that means the workers were taken from all castes even from other religion too. All were allowed to dine there.

  14. surendran says:

    Even with highest social status the customs of bhrahmins of kerala was too pathetic. Only the first son of the family was allowed to marry.other sons have no right to marry.but they can mate with any women upto nairs. Not all but some kshatriya families of kerala were ready to allow their ladies to enter in relation with these namboothiris . the most infamous amoung these family was the cochin rulers or thrippunithura kovilakam.these practice created a lot of branches headed with seperated women. The namoothiris which entered in relation with these royal families were like in service or like given job.they were treated well money was given to them and to their familes. Ofcourse these money came from the state treasury and to the treasury from the working people.the income generating people were the farmers , traders and few industrialists.they made the majority of kerala population and consists mainly of so called avarnas which included ezhavar,pulayar and others.but they were not given recognition and rights. Ezhavars which forms the largest community of kerala is belived to be the Buddhist followers earlier.learning institutes were maintained by them which offered studying sanskrit and tamil languages. Medical treatment was one of their main occupation.anyone who is brilliant enough to learn sanskrit and medicine was allowed to learn in these institutes and can become a doctor. They were revered by the royal families and the namboothiris even during the period of untouchabilities. But the rules for untouchability was always relaxed when question of survival and workability comes.numerous stories and court case records shows these practices. Trade and factories were mainly run by the members belonged to this caste.

    the ambalavasi caste in kerala is that caste consists of people who were living doing jobs related to temples.this caste consists numerous subcastes.they doesn’t were the owners or authorities of the temples but were doing the jobs such as cleaning,sweeping,singing,using drums and other instruments etc.they were not allowed to do the poojas which was done mainly by the bhrahmins.the bhrahmins many times were the authorities of these temples and they were the people who handle the income to the temple.at that time the temple income was mainly from the state treasury,given by the kings.this helped the owners or namboothiris to live well without necessary for doing any useful work.those persons living with jobs related to temples or ambalavasis were actually were dependentant on bharhmins as they can be denied job at any stage by these bhrahmins.so naturally they tried to keep the bhrahmins satisfied.they too practised the sambandam or were ready to entertain namboothiris with their women lot.bhrahmins entered into sambandan or a concubineship with these familes.it was not considered or accepted as marriage by the bhrahmin comunity.still the ambalavasis prefered to get a bhrahmin relation for their woman. this was way they have found to keep their job secure and income intact.so they prefer to have bhrahmin relative.if the namboothiri was a learned man and have income it was an added advantage for them.but generally if not all ,the members of ambalavasi castes are very poor and lagged behind in kerala.this was not because of any social backwardness but because of their way living superstitions.many tend to pursue their traditional occupation which have less income.their reluctance to modern education was also another reason.still they are not too poor to live as they can live by finding job and food from the temples even now.

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