Political rivalry: Ezhavas for 30% Kerala population and Nairs, about 10–15%! Nairs have fared better than . A brief history on rise of Ezhava assertiveness. Ezhava (or Elava in Tamil rich old Malayalam) literally means people from Elam or Elanka or just Lanka, todays Sri Lanka. Ezhavas were. The group shares a common history from the pre-social reform era, [citation needed] Most theories of origin for the Ezhavas suggest a Sri.

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Ezhava is the name of a caste in the state of Kerala. Historj occupations histoyr the past done by Ezhavas were coconut farming, toddy tappingagriculture, weaving,coir making,ship making, Ayurvedic medicine practice and practising and tutoring martial arts like Kalaripayattu. Ezhava ruling dynasties like the Izhathu Mannanars also have existed in Kerala. According to legend and some Malayalam folk songs, the Ezhavas were the progeny of four bachelors that the king of Ceylon sent to Kerala at the request of the Chera king Bhaskara Ravi Varma, in the 1st century AD.

These men were sent, ostensibly, to set up coconut farming in Histlry. Another version of the story says that the Sri Lankan king sent eight martial families to Kerala at the request of a Chera king to quell a civil war that had erupted in Kerala against him. It has been suggested that the Ezhavas may share a common heritage with szhava Nair caste.

This theory is based on similarities between numerous of the customs adopted by the two groups, particularly with regard to marking various significant ezhqva stages such as childbirth and death, as well as their matrilineal practices and martial history.

Oral history, folk songs and other old writings indicate that the Ezhavas were at some point in the past members of the armed forces serving various kings, including the Zamorins of Calicut and the rulers of the Cochin dynasty.

Cyriac Pullapilly has said that only a common parentage can explain some of these issues.

A theory has been proposed for the origins of the caste system in the Kerala region based on the actions of the Aryan Ezhavz introducing such distinctions prior to the 8th-century AD.

Ezhavw argues that the Jains needed protection when they arrived in the area and recruited sympathetic local people to provide it. These people were then distinguished from others in the local population by their occupation as protectors, with the others all being classed as out-caste.

Pullapilly describes that this meant the Ezhavas, not being among the group protecting the Jains, became out-castes. An alternate theory states that the system was introduced by the Nambudiri Brahmins. Although Brahmin influences had existed in the area since at least gistory 1st-century AD, there was a large influx from around the 8th-century when they acted as priests, counsellors and ministers to invading Aryan princes.

At the time of their arrival the non-aboriginal local population had been converted to Buddhism by missionaries who had come from the north of India and from Ceylon. The Brahmins used their symbiotic relationship with the invading forces to assert their beliefs and position. Buddhist temples and monasteries were either destroyed or taken over for use in Hindu practices, thus undermining the ability of the Buddhists to propagate their beliefs. The Buddhist tradition of the Ezhavas, and the refusal to give it up, pushed them to an outcaste role within the greater Brahminic society.

Ezhavas showed more genotypic resemblance to the Jat Sikh population of Punjab and the Turkish populations than to East Asians, hence indicating a paternal lineage of European origin [12].

The social anthropologists Filippo and Caroline Osella say that the Ezhavas ” Aiyappananother social anthropologist and himself a member of the caste, [13] noted the mythical belief that the Ezhava brought coconut palms to Kerala when they moved from Sri Lanka. This activity is sometimes erroneously referred to as toddy tappingtoddy being a liquor manufactured from the sap.

Arrack was another liquor produced from the palms, as was jaggery an unrefined sugar. In reality, most Ezhavas were agricultural labourers and small-time cultivators, with a substantial number diverging into the production of coir products, such as coconut mats for flooring, from towards the end of the 19th century.

A boom in trade for these manufactured goods after World War I led to a unique situation in twentieth-century Kerala whereby there was a shortage of labour, which attracted still more Ezhavas to the industry from outlying rural areas. The Great Depression gistory in particular on the export trade, causing a reduction in price and in wages even though production increased, with the consequence that during the s many Ezhava families found themselves to be in dire financial circumstances.


Many were employed as guards or sentinels in the palaces of Cochin and Travancore. Enathinathara chola military general and saivaite Nayannar saint was called in Periya Puranam written by Sekkizhar as Ezha Channar [21] [22] [23]. A subgroup of the Thiyyas considered themselves to be warriors and became known as the Chekavars. The Vadakkan Pattukal ballads describe Histoory as forming the militia of local chieftains and kings but the title was also given to experts of Kalari Payattu.

History of Ezhava

A subgroup of Ezhava known to be warriors and Kalari trainers. Cheerappanchira panickers were Kalari trainers of Pandalam Royal family [25]. Arattupuzha Velayudha Panicker ,was an Ezhava warrior who fought against caste discrimination [26] Ambalappuzha or chembakasseri kingdom had chegos as soldiers and Ambanattu Panickers were the leaders of ezhava force [27]. Some Ezhavas were known as vaidyars Ayurvedic physicians.

Itty Achudan was probably the best known Ezhava chego vaidyan of medieval period who directly took part in the compilation of Hortus Malabaricusa seventeenth century Latin book on medicinal plants. Itti Achuden’s texts were written in the Kolezhuthu script that Ezhava castes used, for they were prevented from learning the more Sanskritized Aryazuthu script which was the preserve of the upper-castes.

Literally, Aivarkali means the play of the five sets. This was a ritualistic art form performed in almost all important temples of Kerala. Today it is found in central Kerala.

This is also known as Histoory, which means the play of the Pandavas, the five heroes of the Mahabharathaand is performed by Asari, Moosari, Karuvan, Thattan and Kallasari communities. This ritualistic dance is performed beneath a decorated pandal with a nilavilakku at its centre.

The five or more performers with their leader called Kaliachan enter the performance area after a ritualistic bath, with sandalwood paste over their foreheads, dressed hstory white dhoti, and with a towel wrapped around their heads.

Arjuna Nrtam “the dance of Arjuna ” or Mayilppili Tukkam hisfory a ritual art performed by men of Ezhava community and is prevalent in the Bhagavathy temples of south Kerala, mainly in KollamAlappuzha and Kottayam districts.

Arjuna nritham is also called “Mayilpeeli Thookkam” as the costume includes a characteristic garment made of mayilppeeli peacock feathers.

This garment is worn around the waist in a similar fashion as the “uduthukettu” of Kathakali. The various dance movements are closely similar to Kalarippayattu techniques. The performers have their faces painted green and wear distinctive headgears. The all night performance of the dance form is usually presented solo or in pairs. Makachuttu art is popular among Ezhavas in Thiruvananthapuram and Chirayinkizhu taluks and in KilimanoorPazhayakunnummal and Thattathumala regions.

In this, a group of eight performers, two each, twin around each other like serpents and rise up, ezhhava with sticks. The techniques are repeated several times.

Sandalwood paste on the forehead, a red towel round the head, red silk around the waist and bells round the ankles form the costume. This is a combination of snake worship and Kalarippayattu.

Poorakkali is a ezuava dance prevalent among the Ezhavas of Malabar, usually performed in Bhagavathy temples as a ritual offering during the month of Meenam March—April. Poorakkali requires specially trained and highly experienced dancers, trained in Kalaripayattu, a system of physical exercise formerly in vogue in Kerala. Standing round a traditional lamp, the performers dance in eighteen different stages and rhythms, each phase called a niram.

In northern Kerala, Teyyam is a popular ritual dance. This particular dance form is also known as Kaliyattam.

The Padmanabhan Column: The Ezhava Lineage

Ezhavas ezhavx different patterns of behavior in family system across Kerala. Those living in southern Travancore tended to meld the different practices that existed in the other parts of Kerala. The family arrangements of northern Malabar were matrilineal with patrilocal property arrangements, whereas in northern Travancore they were matrilineal but usually matrilocal in their arrangements for property.

Southern Malabar saw a patrilineal system but partible property. The lowly status of the Ezhava meant that, exhava Thomas Nossiter has commented, they had “little to lose and much to gain by the economic and social changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries”. They sought the right to be treated as worthy of an English ezzhava and for jobs in government administration to be open to them.



Narayana Guru was one of the great philosophers, socio-religious reformers and messiah of downtrodden communities. During his lifetime, his activities made great impact not only in Kerala but also outside the state including the coastal district of Karnataka and other parts [38] Under his dzhava, a group of people, led by Dr.

Ironically since the movement was largely focused on the interests of the privileged section of the Ezhava community, it achieved Ezhava solidarity only around caste. This is a significant example of how a social reform movement turned into a caste solidarity movement [40]. In Malabar, which unlike Cochin and Travancore was under direct British control, [41] the Thiyyas showed little interest in such bodies because they did not suffer the educational and employment discrimination found hlstory, nor indeed were the disadvantages that they did experience strictly a consequence of caste alone.

The Ezhavas were not immune to being manipulated by other people for political purposes. The Vaikom Satyagraha of — was a failed attempt to use the issue of avarna access to roads around temples in order to revive the fortunes of Congresshistiry by T.

Madhavana revolutionary and civil rights activist, [43] and with a famous temple at Vaikom as the focal point. Although it failed in its stated aim hisfory achieving access, the satyagraha movement did succeed in voicing a “radical rhetoric”, according to Nossiter.

Membership had reached 50, by and 60, bybut Nossiter notes that, “From the Vaikom satyagraha onwards the SNDP had stirred the ordinary Ezhava without materially improving his position. There was subsequently a radicalization and much political infighting within the leadership as a consequence of the effects of the Great Depression on the coir industry but the general notion of self-help was not easy to achieve in a primarily agricultural environment; the Victorian concept presumed an industrialised economy.

The organisation lost members to various other groups, including the communist movement, and it was not until the s that it reinvented itself as a pressure group and provider of educational opportunities along the lines of the Nair Service Society NSSJust as the NSS briefly formed the National Democratic Party in the s in an attempt directly to enter the political arena, so too in the SNDP ezhvaa the Social Revolutionary Party.

Although Ezhavas performed mostly the works associated with Sudra varnathey were considered as avarna or outcaste by the Nambudiri Brahmins who formed the Hindu clergy and ritual ruling elite in late medieval Kerala. The Ezhavas are classified as an Other Backward Class by the Government of India under its system of positive discrimination. Some in the Thiyya community have objected to being treated as Ezhava by the government of Kerala.

EZHAVA CASTE HISTORY | Sree Narayana GURU DEVAN-the greatest god

They have campaigned hisory the right to record themselves as Thiyya rather than as Ezhava when applying for official posts and other jobs allocated under Ezhxva system of positive discrimination.

They claim that the stance of the government is contrary to a principle established by the Supreme Court of India relating to a dispute involving communities who were neither Ezhava nor Thiyya.

The SNDP was at that time attempting to increase its relatively weak influence in northern Kerala, where the politics of identity play a lesser role than those of class and the Communist Party of India Marxist has historically been a significant organisation. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. One-third of the net produce from these lands was retained by the subtenants and the remainder was the property of the Nair tenant.

University of California Press. Archived from the original on Social Movements and Social Transformation. Indian Council of Agricultural Research. Check date values in: Social Mobility In Kerala: Modernity and Identity in Conflict. Growing Solidarity of Alleppey’s Coir Workers, —40″. Economic and Political Weekly. Religion and ideology in Kerala. Krishna Anantha Krishna Iyer. Sixty Three Nayanar Saints. Studies in Kerala History.

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