Monday, January 4, 2010

KERALA-gods own country

History of Kerala

The name Kerala is widely explained as the "the land of coconuts", derived from Malayalam word "kera" which means coconut. However, pre historic edits of Emperor Asoka period dating back to 273-236 BC had etymological reference of Keralaputra,meaning the land of Cheras (of Chera dynasty) sons.

The present State of Kerala, a 560-km long narrow stretch of land, having not more than 15,000 square miles and at its widest a mere 120-km from the sea, was created on the 1st of November 1956, with the political merging of three earlier distinct areas; the North Malabar region, as far up the coast covering Tellicherry, Cannanore and Kasargode and excluding the tiny pocket of French possession, Mahe , the princely State of Cochin forming the middle section and the third region comprised Travancore, another princely State, covering the southern area.


There is a persistent legend which says that Parasuram, the 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the Hindu Trinity, stood on a high place in the mountains, threw an axe far in to the sea, and commanded the sea to retreat.

Geologists have postulated the elevation of Kerala from the sea was the result of some seismic activity, either suddenly or gradually. Alternate theory is the rivers of Kerala emptying into the Arabian seas bring down enormous quantities of silt from the hills. The ocean currents transport quantities of sand towards the shore. The coastal portions could well be due to the accumulation of this silt over thousands of years.

No relic of the Stone Age, not a single authentic Neolithic implement, has been discovered in any parts of Kerala. Megaliths or huge burial stones carved by iron implements are scattered all along the ghats of Wynad in the north to Trivandrum in the south. Various researches show a pattern of distribution for these stones extending all the way from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh along the Nepal Valley down through the Vindhya Mountains to Tamil Nadu and the High Ranges of Kerala. This pattern indicates that Kerala's early people were originally from the Northwest of India. The megalithic types of Kerala -- similar to those of Brittany and Cornwall-are isolated and multiple dolmens, port-hole cists, menhirs, kudakallus or umbrella stones, topikallus or cap stones, and rock-cut caves. In many caves archeologists have found, especially during the Varkala Tunnel construction, old pots of the "black-andred-ware" variety and human bones. At some sites even terra cotta figurines have been discovered. Topikallu and kudakallu are sepulchral monuments under which are found burial urns in pits. The remarkable thing about the Kerala megaliths is that they are not as old as the Harappan culture (2500-1500 B.C.). According to Sir Mortimer Wheeler and many historians, the megalith culture was introduced into Kerala between 300 B.C. and 50 A.D. Megalithic evidence shows that the builders came originally from Northwestern India and entered Kerala's High Ranges around 200 B.C.

Stone age writing in Edakkal Caves, Kerala.
This article concerns itself with the history of Kerala, a state in South India. Kerala had direct contact across the Arabian Sea with all the major Red Sea ports and the Mediterranean ports as well as extending to ports in the Far East. The spice trade between Kerala and much of the world was one of the main drivers of the world economy. For much of history, ports in Kerala were the busiest among all trade and travel routes in the history of the world.

First mention

The trench outside the St. Angelo's fort wall, to protect the fort from enemies.
Kingdom of Travancore

Part of History of Kerala

Travancore Kings
Rama Varma 1663-1672
Aditya Varma 1672-1677
Umayamma Rani‡ 1677-1684
Ravi Varma 1684-1718
Aditya Varma 1718-1719
Unni Kerala Varma 1719-1724
Rajah Rama Varma 1724-1729
Marthanda Varma 1729-1758
Dharma Raja 1758-1798
Balarama Varma 1798-1810
Gowri Lakshmi Bayi‡ 1810-1815
Gowri Parvati Bayi‡ 1815-1829
Swathi Thirunal 1829-1846
Uthram Thirunal 1846-1860
Ayilyam Thirunal 1860-1880
Visakham Thirunal 1880-1885
Moolam Thirunal 1885-1924
Sethu Lakshmi Bayi‡ 1924-1931
Chithira Thirunal 1931-1949
‡ Regent Queens Capitals
Padmanabhapuram 1721-1795
Thiruvananthapuram 1795-1949
Padmanabhapuram Palace

Kilimanoor palace

Kuthira Malika

Kowdiar Palace

Kerala is first mentioned (as Keralaputra) in a 3rd-century-B.C. rock inscription left by the Mauryan emperor Asoka the Great.[1] According to the first century annals of Pliny the Elder and the author of Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Muziris in Kerala could be reached in 14 days' time from the Red sea ports in Egyptian coast purely depending on the South West Monsoon winds. The Sangam works Puṟanāṉūṟu and Akanaṉūṟu have many lines which speak of the Roman vessels and the Roman gold that used to come to the Kerala ports of the great Aryan kings in search of pepper and other spices, which had enormous demand in the West.

Mythological origins

Parasurama, surrounded by settlers, commanding Varuna to part the seas and reveal Kerala.
There are myths concerning the origin of Kerala. One such myth is the creation of Kerala by Parasurama, a warrior sage. The Brahminical myth proclaims that Parasurama, an avatar of Mahavishnu, threw his battle axe into the sea. As a result, the land of Kerala arose and was reclaimed from the waters.[2]
Parasurama was not ever the incarnation of Maha Vishnu. He was the sixth of the ten avatars (incarnation) of Vishnu. The word Parasu means 'axe' in Sanskrit and therefore the name Parasurama means 'Ram with Axe'. The aim of his birth was to deliver the world from the arrogant oppression of the ruling caste, the Kshatriyas. He killed all the male Kshatriyas on earth and filled five lakes with their blood. After destroying the Kshatriya kings, he approached assembly of learned men to find a way of penitence for his sins. He was advised that, to save his soul from damnation, he must hand over the lands he had conquered to the Brahmins. He did as they advised and sat in meditation at Gokarnam. There, Varuna -the God of the Oceans and Bhumidevi - Goddess of Earth blessed him. From Gokarnam he reached Kanyakumari and threw his axe northward across the ocean. The place where the axe landed was Kerala. It was 160 katam (an old measure) of land lying between Gokarnam and Kanyakumari. Puranas say that it was Parasuram who planted the 64 Brahmin families in Kerala, whom he brought down from the north in order to expiate his slaughter of the Kshatriyas. According to the puranas, Kerala is also known as Parasurama Kshetram, ie., 'The Land of Parasurama', as the land was reclaimed from sea by him.
This legend, however, may be a Brahmin appropriation of an earlier Chera legend where a Chera King, Velkezhu Kuttavan, otherwise known a Chen Kuttuvan flings his spear into the sea to claim land from it.[3] The myth of Parashurama is debatable as the legendary king Mahabali, under whose rule Kerala was the land of prosperity and happiness, was granted rule over hell (Patalam) by Vamana the avatar of Vishnu, who actually comes before the avatar of Parashurama according to the avatar stories of Hindu mythology.
One legend of Kerala even makes Parasurama a Pandya ruler.[4] In another legend, the Pandyas themselves are the manifestations of Parasurama.[5] P.N. Chopra writes, "Parasurama is deemed by the Keralites as the father of their national identity."[6] The Kollam Era is also known as "Parasurama-Sacam".[7] Travancore Rajas claim descent from Chera King Bhanu Bikram, who according to legend was placed on the throne by Parasurama.[8] Scholar K. Narayanan Sivaraja Pillai mentions, "Even as the West Coast owes its very rudiments of civilized life to Parasurama...".[9] In the Keralolpatti, Parasurama is said to have selected goddess Durga (Kali) to be the guardian of the sea-shore of Kerala.[10] According to legend, Chera King Kuttuvan Chera (also called Kota Varman) once enraged, threw an into the sea, thereby causing it to retreat and the land to dry.[11] According to another legend, a Pandyan called "Vadimbalamba ninrapandyan" threw his spear into the sea, hereby causing the same effect.[11] There is another story of Ukkira Pandiyan obtaining a spear from the Sivan of Madura, and throwing it into the sea, causing the shore to retreat.[11] Tradition says that Parasurama minted gold coins called Rasi and that in Travancore, he sowed them and buried the surplus in Cairns.[12]

Early history

A Muniyara, dolmens erected by Neolithic tribesmen, in Marayoor.
The earliest written record mentioning Kerala is contained in the Sanskrit epic known as the Aitareya Aranyaka. Later, such figures as Katyayana (circa 4th century BCE) and Patanjali (circa 2nd century BCE) exhibited in their writings a casual familiarity with Kerala's geography. Megasthanes, the Greek Ambassador to the court of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (4th Century BCE) mentions in his work Indica on many South Indian States, including Automela (probably Muziris), and a Pandian trade centre. Ancient Roman Natural philosopher Pliny the Elder mentions in his Naturalis Historia (N.H. 6.26) a Muziris probably modern-day Kodungallur or Pattanam as India's first port of Importance. Later, the unknown author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea notes that "both Muziris and Nelkunda (modern Nillakal) are now busy places".
Malayalam, Kerala's main native language, believed to be originated as an offshoot of Tamil as all historical records available till date from Kerala is in Tamil, the principal native language of neighboring Tamil Nadu was Tamil. Malayalam (Derived from the local words: mala (means Mountain) and aalam (means Kingdom)) as a composite phrase means the living/inhabitants of Mountain Kingdom. This phrase, which in earlier times implied the geographical location of the region, was later replaced by Kerala. Kerala and Tamil Nadu diverged into linguistically separate regions by the early 14th century BCE. The ancient Chera Empire, whose court language was Tamil, ruled Kerala from their capital at Vanchi Karuvur (modern Karur in Tamil Nadu) as Kerala Society was more Feudal than Royal with Arya Namboothiri communities heading the Social order. Kerala at that time was composed of two regions, Venadu (later called Travancore) and Kuttanadu (Malabar). Allied with the Pallavas, they continually warred against the neighbouring Chola and Pandyan Empire. History says that (recorded im Mackenzie records) a Chozha princess was married to the Chera of Karur and he got a dowry of 48,000 agriculturists from the Chozha country. These people were settled in the then forested region of Venadu and Kuttanadu and thus the first agricultural settlements arose in what is called Kerala today.
A Keralite identity is associated with the development of Malayalam, subsequently evolved sometime during the 8th–14th centuries. Meanwhile, both Buddhism and Jainism reached Kerala in this early period. As in other parts of Ancient India, Buddhism and Jainism co-existed with early Christian and Shaivite beliefs during the first five centuries. By the 8th and 9th centuries, 2nd Chera kings inclined to Vaishnavism and some of them wrote great literary works in the stream of Vishnu Bhakthi. When Hinduism was revived by intellectuals like Adi Shankara and by Bhakti movements all over India, Buddhism and Jainism merged into their mother religion.

Overseas contact

A Hebrew inscription at the Mattancherry Synagogue in Kochi, India, built in 1344 CE. It is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations.
The significant presence of West Asians - primarily traders - on the Malabar coast has been recorded in many Roman[13] and Tamil[14] sources. They were encouraged to settle and set up trading outposts and factories by the local kings. Many migrations into Kerala were to escape religious and/or racial persecution. Jews of Kerala claimed to be remnants of the Jews that left the northern Kingdom of Israel following the Assyrian invasion of 721 BCE. The white Jews were refugees from Spain following the promulgation of the Edict of Expulsion. Thomas the Apostle visited this region in 52 CE and preached Christianity among the Jewish people who are now known as Nasranis. Another well recorded (in the Tharisappally records) arrival of Mar Abo on invitation from Kollam King, is from Assyria in the 9th century CE who was the founder of the present Christian religion in Kerala shores independent from Vaishnavism. With the advent of Islam in West Asia the traders visiting Kerala's shores contained ever larger proportions of Muslims. Malik Ibn Dinar created the first Muslim settlement in Kerala in the 7th century CE. Arab Muslims eventually dominated the sea trade with Kerala until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century CE. As the Muslim settlers gained strength clashes erupted between them and the Christian & Jewish settlers in the 9th century CE. This resulted in Muslim control of trading centres and the latter communities scattering to places such as Angamaly and others further south[15].


Vasco da Gama delivers the letter of King Manuel I of Portugal to the Saamoothiri of Calicut.

Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma was the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Travancore.
Vasco da Gama's voyage to Kerala from Portugal in 1498 was largely motivated by Portuguese determination to break the Arabs' control over trade of spices grown in Kerala. The spice trade with the Middle East pre-dates Islam. Da Gama established India's first Portuguese fortress at Cochin (Kochi) in 1503 and taking advantage of rivalry between the royal families of Calicut and Cochin, ended the Arab monopoly. Conflicts between Calicut and Cochin, however, provided an opportunity for the Dutch to come in and finally expel the Roman Catholic Portuguese from their forts.
The Dutch were, in turn, routed by the Nairs of Travancore (Thiruvithamcoore) ruler Marthanda Varma at the Battle of Kulachal in 1741. Hyder Ali of Mysore conquered northern Kerala in the 18th century, capturing Kozhikode in 1766. Hyder Ali and his successor, Tipu Sultan, (but Nairs under the capable Diwan of Travancoore Raja Keshavadas (Keshava pillai Diwanji) defeated Tippu near Aluva) came into conflict with the British, and the four Anglo-Mysore wars were fought across southern India in the latter half of the 18th century. Tipu Sultan ceded Malabar District to the British in 1792, and South Kanara, which included present-day Kasargod District, in 1799. The British concluded treaties of subsidiary alliance with the rulers of Cochin (1791) and Travancore (1795), and they became princely states of British India, maintaining local autonomy in return for a fixed annual tribute to the British. Malabar and South Kanara districts were part of British India's Madras Presidency.
Organised expressions of discontent with British rule were relatively infrequent in Kerala. Uprisings of note include the rebellion by Pazhassi Raja, Velu Thampi Dalawa and the Punnapra-Vayalar revolt of 1946. The 1921 Moplah Rebellion involved Mappila Muslims rioting against 'Janmi' system and the British Raj. Mass protests were mainly directed at established social evils such as untouchability. The non-violent and largely peaceful Vaikom Satyagraha of 1924 was instrumental in securing entry to the public roads adjacent to the Vaikom temple for people belonging to backward castes. In 1936, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balaramavarma the ruler of Travancore issued the Temple Entry Proclamation, declaring the temples of his kingdom open to all Hindu worshippers, irrespective of caste.
Modern post-colonial
After India's independence in 1947, the princely states of Travancore and Kochi were merged to form the province (after 1950 a state) of Travancore-Cochin on July 1, 1949. Madras Presidency became India's Madras State.
The state of Kerala was created on November 1, 1956 when Malabar District was merged with Tranvancore-Cochin state and Kasargod taluk of South Kanara District and Kaniyakumari was given over to Tamil Nadu to form the State of Kerala, based on the recommendations of the State Reorganisation Commission set up by the Government of India.[16] Elections for the new Kerala Legislative Assembly were held in 1957; this resulted in the formation of a communist-led government[16] headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad. Many Indians consider this the first democratically elected communist government[17] in the world; however, both San Marino (in 1948) and Guyana (in 1953) had elected communists to power years earlier. The social factors leading to elections of the communists was discussed in the 1959 book The red interlude in Kerala by Kainikkara Padmanabha Pillai.[18] Radical reforms introduced by the E. M. S. Namboodiripad government in favour of farmers and labourers helped change, to a great extent, the iniquitous social order that had prevailed in Kerala for centuries.

Malayalam language

Malayalamമലയാളം malayāḷam
Malayalam in Malayalam script
Spoken in India

Region Kerala, Lakshadweep, Karnataka, Mahé, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Persian Gulf.

Total speakers 35,893,990.[1]
33,015,420 in India (2001),[2]
1,847,902 in other countries (2007):[3]
• 773,624 in UAE
• 447,440 in Saudi Arabic
• 134,728 in Kuwait
• 134,019 in Oman
• 105,655 in USA
• 94,310 in Qatar
• 58,146 in Bahrain
• 26,237 in UK
• 15,600 in other Europe
• 11,346 in Canada
• 10,636 in Malaysia
• 7,800 in Singapore

Language family
• Southern
o Tamil-Kannada
 Tamil-Kodagu
 Tamil-Malayalam
 Malayalam
Writing system
Malayalam script, historically written in Vattezhuthu script, Kolezhuthu script , Malayanma script (used in Thiruvananthapuram)[4], Karzoni script. Also Arabic script (Arabi Malayalam)

Official status
Official language in India (Kerala and the Union Territories of Lakshadweep & Puducherry)

Regulated by
No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3

Distribution of native Malayalam speakers in India

This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts.

Malayalam is written in a non-Latin script. Malayalam text used in this article is transliterated into the Latin script according to the ISO 15919 standard.
Malayalam (മലയാളം malayāḷam, pronounced [mɐləjaːɭɐm]) is one of the four major Dravidian languages of South India. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India with official language status in the state of Kerala and the union territories of Lakshadweep and Mahé. It is spoken by 35.9 million people.[1] Malayalam is also spoken in the Kanyakumari district and Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu, Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu districts of Karnataka.[1][5][6][7] Overseas it is also used by a large population of Indian expatriates living around the globe in the Persian Gulf, United States, Singapore, Australia, and Europe.
Malayalam was derived from Middle Tamil in the 6th century, of which Modern Tamil was also derived.[8] An alternative theory proposes a split in more ancient times.[8] Before Malayalam came into being, Old Tamil was used in literature and courts of a region called Tamilakam, a famous example being Silappatikaram. The oldest literature works in Malayalam, distinct from the Tamil tradition, is dated certainly to the 11th century, perhaps to the 9th century.[8] For cultural purposes Malayalam and Sanskrit formed a language known as Manipravalam, where both languages were used in an alternating style. Malayalam is the only among the major Dravidian languages without diglossia. This means, that the Malayalam which is spoken doesn't differ from the written variant, while the Kannada and Tamil languages use a classical type for the latter.
Malayalam is written in the Malayalam script, which is derived from the Grantha script.Its rounded form was well suited to write palm leaf manuscripts, a preferred way of writing in ancient South India. Malayalam uses a large proportion of Sanskrit vocabulary. Adoption have also been made from Portuguese, Arabic, Syriac, and in more recent times English.

The term "Malayalam" comes from the words mala meaning mountain and alam meaning people in old Tamil land or locality.[9] Hence malayali means Mountain's people who lived beyond the Western Ghats, and Malayalam the language that was spoken there. Malayalam started was a dialect of Tamil spoken by the Chera people (Chera dynasty) one among the three tripartite ancient Tamil Kingdoms.Another etymology is that it comes from mala (Mountain) and azham (Ocean) - referring to the Sahya mountains and Arabian Sea that bound Kerala. Malayazham later became Malayalam.
The word "Malayalam" is spelled as a palindrome in English. However, it is not a palindrome in its own script, for three reasons: the third a is long and should properly be transliterated aa or ā (an a with a macron) while the other a’s are short; the two l consonants represent different sounds, the first l being dental ([l̪], Malayalam ല, Roman l) (although the consonant chart below lists that sound as [alveolar]) and the second retroflex ([ɭ], Malayalam ള, Roman ḷ); and the final m is written as an anusvara, which denotes the same phoneme /m/ as in the initial m in this case, but the two m’s are spelled differently (the first m is a normal ma മ with an inherent vowel a, while the last m ം is a pure consonant).
The language belongs to the family of Dravidian languages. Robert Caldwell, in his book A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Languages states that Malayalam branched from classical Tamil that over time gained a large amount of Sanskrit vocabulary and lost the personal terminations of verbs.[10]
Together with Tamil, Toda, Kannada and Tulu, Malayalam belongs to the southern group of Dravidian languages. Some believe Proto-Tamil, the common stock of ancient Tamil and Malayalam, apparently diverged over a period of four or five centuries from the ninth century on, resulting in the emergence of Malayalam as a language distinct from Proto-Tamil. As the language of scholarship and administration, Proto-Tamil which was written in Tamil-Brahmi script and Vatteluttu later,greatly influenced the early development of Malayalam. Later the irresistible inroads the Namboothiris made into the cultural life of Kerala, the Namboothiri-Nair dominated social and political setup, the trade relationships with Arabs, and the invasion of Kerala by the Portuguese, establishing vassal states accelerated the assimilation of many Roman, Semitic and Indo-Aryan features into Malayalam at different levels spoken by religious communities like Muslims, Christians, Jews and Jainas.
T.K. Krishna Menon, in his book A Primer of Malayalam Literature describes four distinct epochs concerning the evolution of the language:[11]
• Karintamil (3100 BCE - 100 BCE): Malayalam from this period is represented by the works of Kulashekara Alvar and Pakkanar. There is a strong Tamil element, and Sanskrit has not yet made an influence on the language.
• Old Malayalam (100 BCE - 325 CE): Malayalam seems to have been influenced by Sanskrit as there are numerous Sanskrit words in the language. There are personal terminations for verbs that were conjugated according to gender and number.
• Middle Malayalam (325 CE - 1425 CE): Malayalam from this time period is represented by works such as Ramacharitram. Traces of the adjuncts of verbs have disappeared by this period. The Jains also seemed to have encouraged the study of the language.
• Modern Malayalam (1425 CE onwards): Malayalam seems to have established itself as a language separate from classical Tamil and Sanskrit by this point in time. This period can be divided into two categories: from 1425 CE to 1795 CE, and from 1795 CE, onwards. 1795 CE is the year the British gained complete control over Kerala.
Development of literature
The earliest written record resembling Malayalam is the Vazhappalli inscription (ca. 830 CE). The early literature of Malayalam comprised three types of composition: Malayalam Nada,Tamil Nada and Sanskrit Nada.
• Classical songs known as Naadan Paattu
• Manipravalam of the Sanskrit tradition, which permitted a generous interspersing of Sanskrit with Malayalam.Niranam poets Manipravalam Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar wrote Manipravalam poetry in the 14th century.The changed political situation in the 14th century after the invasion of Malik Kafur in 1310 led to the decline of Tamil dynasties leading to the dominance of people with Prakrit and Sanskrit heritage, the languages of Ahichatra in Uttarkhand, the original home town of Aryans and Nagavanshi people.

• The folk song rich in native elements
Malayalam poetry to the late twentieth century betrays varying degrees of the fusion of the three different strands. The oldest examples of Pattu and Manipravalam, respectively, are Ramacharitam and Vaishikatantram, both of the twelfth century.
The earliest extant prose work in the language is a commentary in simple Malayalam, Bhashakautaliyam (12th century) on Chanakya’s Arthasastra. Adhyathmaramayanam by Thunchaththu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan (known as the father of the Malayalam language) who was born in Tirur, one of the most important works in Malayalam literature.
By the end of 18th century some of the Christian missionaries from Kerala started writing in Malayalam but mostly travelogues,Dictionaries and Religeous books.Varthamana Pusthakam (1778), written by Parammekkal Thoma Kathanar a travelogue. Church Mission Society which started a seminary at Kottayamat 1819 also started a press which printed Malayalam books in 19th century.Malayalam and Sanskrit were increasingly studied by Christians of Kottayam and by the end of 19th century Malayalam replaced Syriac as language of Liturgy in the church.
For the consonants and vowels, the IPA is given, followed by the Malayalam character and the ISO 15919 transliteration.


The first letter in Malayalam

/i/ ഇ i /ɨ̆/ * ŭ /u/ ഉ u /iː/ ഈ ī /uː/ ഊ ū
/e/ എ e /ə/ * a /o/ ഒ o /eː/ ഏ ē /oː/ ഓ ō
/a/ അ a /aː/ ആ ā
• */ɨ̆/ is the saṁvr̥tōkāram, an epenthentic vowel in Malayalam. Therefore, it has no independent vowel letter (because it never occurs at the beginning of words) but, when it comes after a consonant, there are various ways of representing it. In medieval times, it was just represented with the symbol for /u/, but later on it was just completely omitted (that is, written as an inherent vowel). In modern times, it is written in two different ways - the Northern style, in which a chandrakkala is used, and the Southern or Travancore style, in which the diacritic for a /u/ is attached to the preceding consonant and a chandrakkala is written above.
• */a/ (phonetically central: [ä]) and /ə/ are both represented as basic or "default" vowels in the abugida script (although /ə/ never occurs word-initially and therefore does not make use of the letter അ), but they are distinct vowels.
Malayalam has also borrowed the Sanskrit diphthongs of /äu/ (represented in Malayalam as ഔ, au) and /ai/ (represented in Malayalam as ഐ, ai), although these mostly occur only in Sanskrit loanwords. Traditionally (as in Sanskrit), four vocalic consonants (usually pronounced in Malayalam as consonants followed by the saṁvr̥tōkāram, which is not officially a vowel, and not as actual vocalic consonants) have been classified as vowels: vocalic r (ഋ, /rɨ̆/, r̥), long vocalic r (ൠ, /rɨː/, r̥̄), vocalic l (ഌ, /lɨ̆/, l̥) and long vocalic l (ൡ, /lɨː/, l̥̄). Except for the first, the other three have been omitted from the current script used in Kerala as there are no words in current Malayalam that use them.

/p/ പ p /b/ ബ b /t̪/ ത t /d̪/ ദ d /t/ * t /ʈ/ ട ṭ /ɖ/ ഡ ḍ /t͡ʃ/ ച c /d͡ʒ/ ജ j /k/ ക k /ɡ/ ഗ g
/pʰ/ ഫ ph /bʱ/ ഭ bh /t̪ʰ/ ഥ th /d̪ʱ/ ധ dh /ʈʰ/ ഠ ṭh /ɖʱ/ ഢ ḍh /t͡ʃʰ/ ഛ ch /d͡ʒʱ/ ഝ jh /kʰ/ ഖ kh /ɡʱ/ ഘ gh
/m/ മ m /n̪/ ന n /n/ ന * n /ɳ/ ണ ṇ /ɲ/ ഞ ñ /ŋ/ ങ ṅ
/ʋ/ വ v /ɻ/ ഴ l /j/ യ y
/r/ റ r
/f/ ഫ* f /s̪/ സ s /ʂ/ ഷ ṣ /ɕ/ ശ ś /ɦ/ ഹ h
/ɾ/ ര r
Lateral approximant
/l/ ല l /ɭ/ ള ḷ
• The unaspirated alveolar plosive stop used to have a separate character but it has become obsolete because it only occurs in geminate form (when geminated it is written with a റ below another റ) or immediately following other consonants (in these cases, റ or ററ is usually written in small size underneath the first consonant). To see how the archaic letter looked, find the Malayalam letter in the row for t here.
• The alveolar nasal used to have a separate character but this is now obsolete (to see how it looked, find the Malayalam letter in the row for n here) and the sound is now almost always represented by the symbol that was originally used only for the dental nasal. However, both sounds are extensively used in current colloquial and official Malayalam, and there is no distinction made in the spelling.
• The letter ഫ represents both /pʰ/, a native phoneme, and /f/, which only occurs in adopted words.

Writing system

A public notice board in Malayalam written using Malayalam script. Malayalam language possesses official recognition in the state of Kerala, Lakshadweep and Puducherry
Historically, several scripts were used to write Malayalam. Among these scripts were Vattezhuthu, Kolezhuthu and Malayanma scripts. But it was the Grantha script, another Southern Brahmi variation, which gave rise to the modern Malayalam script. It is syllabic in the sense that the sequence of graphic elements means that syllables have to be read as units, though in this system the elements representing individual vowels and consonants are for the most part readily identifiable. In the 1960s Malayalam dispensed with many special letters representing less frequent conjunct consonants and combinations of the vowel /u/ with different consonants.
Malayalam language script consists of 53 letters including 16 vowels and 37 consonants.[12] The earlier style of writing is now substituted with a new style from 1981. This new script reduces the different letters for typeset from 900 to fewer than 90. This was mainly done to include Malayalam in the keyboards of typewriters and computers.
In 1999 a group called Rachana Akshara Vedi, led by Chitrajakumar, and K.H. Hussein, produced a set of free fonts containing the entire character repertoire of more than 900 glyphs. This was announced and released along with an editor in the same year at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. In 2004, the fonts were released under the GNU GPL license by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation at the Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kochi, Kerala.
Dialects and external influences
Variations in intonation patterns, vocabulary, and distribution of grammatical and phonological elements are observable along the parameters of region, religion, community, occupation, social stratum, style and register. Influence of Sanskrit is very prominent in formal Malayalam used in literature. Malayalam has a substantially high amount of Sanskrit loan words.[13] Loan words and influences also from Hebrew, Syriac and Ladino abound in the Jewish Malayalam dialects, as well as English, Portuguese, Syriac and Greek in the Christian dialects, while Arabic and Persian elements predominate in the Muslim dialects. This Muslim dialect known as Mappila Malayalam is used in the Malabar region of Kerala. Another Muslim dialect called Beary bashe is used in the extreme northern part of Kerala.
The regional dialects of Malayalam can be divided into thirteen dialect areas.[14] They are as follows:
South Travancore Central Travancore West Vempanad
North Travancore Kochi (Cochin) South Malabar
South Eastern Palghat North Western Palghat Central Malabar
Wayanad North Malabar
Words adopted from Sanskrit
When words are adopted from Sanskrit, their endings are usually changed to conform to Malayalam norms:
1. Masculine Sanskrit nouns ending in a short "a" in the nominative singular change their ending to "an". For example, Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kr̥ṣṇan. The "an" reverts to an "a" before masculine surnames, honorifics, or titles ending in "an" and beginning with a consonant other than "n" - E.g. Krishna Menon, Krishna Kaniyaan etc., but Krishnan Ezhutthachan. Surnames ending with "ar" or "aL" (where these are plural forms of "an" denoting respect) are treated similarly - Krishna Pothuval, Krishna Chakyar, but Krishnan Nair, Krishnan Nambiar. "an" also reverts to "a" before Sanskrit surnames like "Varma(n)", "Sarma(n)", or "Gupta(n)" (rare) - e.g. Krishna Varma, Krishna Sharman.[citation needed] If a name is a compound of multiple names, only the last name in the compound undergoes this transformation - e.g. Krishnadevan.
2. Feminine words ending in a long "ā" or "ī" are changed so that they now end in a short "a" or "i", for example Sītā -> Sīta and Lakṣmī -> Lakṣmi. However, the long vowel still appears in compound words like Sītādēvi or Lakṣmīdēvi. Some vocative case forms of both Sanskrit and native Malayalam words end in ā or ī, and there are also a small number of nominative ī endings that have not been shortened - a prominent example being the word Śrī,
3. Masculine words ending in a long "ā" in the nominative singular have a "vŭ" added to them, for example Brahmā -> Brahmāvŭ. This is again omitted when forming compounds.[citation needed]
4. Words whose roots are different from their nominative singular forms - for example, the Sanskrit root of "Karma" is actually "Karman"- are also changed. The original root is ignored and "Karma" (the form in Malayalam being "Karmam" because it ends in a short "a") is taken as the basic form of the noun when declining.[15]
5. Sanskrit words describing things or animals rather than people which end in a short "a" take an additional "m" in Malayalam. For example, Rāmāyaṇa -> Rāmāyaṇam. "Things and animals" and "people" are not always differentiated based on whether or not they are sentient beings - for example Narasimha becomes Narasimham and not Narasimhan whilst Ananta becomes Anantan even though both are sentient. This can be explained by saying that "Ananta" can also be a man's name and does not necessarily have to refer to the Hindu serpent-god, whereas "Simha" actually means lion and therefore must be of the neuter gender.[citation needed]
6. Nouns ending in short vowels like "Viṣṇu", "Prajāpati" etc stay the same.[citation needed]
7. Along with these tatsama borrowings, there are also many tadbhava words in common use. These were borrowed into Malayalam before it became distinct from Tamil. As the language did not then accommodate Sanskrit phonology as it now does, words were changed to conform to the Old Tamil phonological system. For example: Kr̥ṣṇa -> Kaṇṇan.[16]
Malayalam also has been influenced by Portuguese, as is evident from the use of words like mesa for a small table, and janala for window.[17]
Ezhuthachan is considered the father of Malayalam literature. He was born at Tirur in the Malabar area of Kerala, where there is now a monument to him. A.R. Rajarajavarma is the man who gave grammatical rules to Malayalam. His monument and burial place is at Mavelikkara in the Central Travancore area of Kerala.

Malayalam calendar
Kerala is first mentioned (as Keralaputra) in a 3rd-century-BC rock inscription left by the Mauryan emperor Asoka the Great.[1] According to the first century annals of Pliny the Elder and the author of Periplus of the Erythraean sea,Tarsish and Muziris in Kerala could be reached in 14 days' time from the Red sea ports in Egyptian coast purely depending on the South West Monsoon winds. The Sangam works Puranaooru and Akananooru have many lines which speak of the Roman vessels and the Roman gold that used to come to the Kerala ports of the great Aryan kings in search of pepper and other spices, which had enormous demand in the West.

Since at least the first millennium BC, pepper was regarded as an ultimate luxury, inessential to survival yet highly desired for ritual, medicinal and culinary purposes. The origins of this desire stretch back to ancient Egypt, with the great pharaoh Ramses II being the first known consumer, albeit posthumously: peppercorns were found in the nostrils of his mummified corpse. In ancient Greece, pepper was used medicinally and the Chinese have used it in their cooking since at least the fourth century. The Romans' conquest of Egypt gave them regular access to pepper, and it became a symbol of luxurious cookery. It was traded ounce for ounce with precious metals: When Rome was besieged in the fifth century, the city allegedly paid its ransom in peppercorns, and the spice remained an accepted form of "currency" throughout the Middle Ages. Mediterranean merchants seeking Indian and Chinese goods had been forced to seek their spices and silk through Arab and Persian middlemen at Kerala ports who monopolized the Arabian sea trade. Rome-India Sea Route rivaled Silk Road.Nautical archaeologists in Quseir will be working in partnership with the archaeology department at Southampton University. Prof David Peacock, a Roman archaeologist there, is leading the onshore excavation efforts at Quseir where he has found traces of Roman and Greek occupation in the form of huge clay pots once filled with wine and olive oil
Spices, gems and other exotic cargo excavated from an ancient port on Egypt's Red Sea show that the sea trade 3,000 years ago between the Roman Empire and Kerala shores was more extensive than previously thought and even rivaled the legendary Silk Road, archaeologists say. "We talk today about globalism as if it were the latest thing, but trade was going on in antiquity at a scale and scope that is truly impressive," the co-director of the dig, Willeke Wendrich of the University of California at Los Angeles. Wend rich and Steven Sidebotham of the University of Delaware report their findings in the issue of the journal Sahara. Historians have long known that Egypt and India (Keralaputra) traded sea during the Roman era, in part because of texts detailing the commercial exchange of luxury goods, including fabrics, spices and wine. Now, archaeologists who have spent the last nine years excavating the town of Berenike say they have recovered artifacts that are the best physical evidence yet of the extent of sea trade between the Roman Empire and India. Among their finds at the Egypt's Red Sea Ports of Bernice & Quseir included more than 16 pounds (7 kilograms) of black peppercorns, the largest stash of the prized Indian spice ever recovered from a Roman archaeological site. Bernice lies at what was the southeastern extreme of the Roman Empire and probably functioned as a transfer port for goods shipped through the Red Sea. Trade activity at the port peaked twice, in the first millennium BC century and again around 500, before it ceased altogether, possibly after a plague or some other adverse conditions for Trade in Kerala where pepper and other prized spices were sourced. Ships would sail between Muzris and Tarshish ( korke-ni-kollam ) in Kerala and Berenice in the Red sea ports during the summer, when monsoon winds were strongest. From Berenice, camel caravans probably carried the goods 240 miles (386 kilometers) west to the Nile, where they were shipped by boat to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. From there, they could have moved by ship through the rest of the Roman world.
Malayalam calendar (also known as Malayalam Era or Kollavarsham) is a solar Sidereal calendar used in the state of Kerala in South India. The origin of Kollam Era has been dated as 825 A.D. when the great convention in Kollam was held at the behest of King Kulashekhara. Kollam was an important town in that period, and Malayalam Era is called 'Kolla Varsham' possibly as a result of the Tarish-a-palli sassnam. It also signified the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244). King Kulashekhara granted the copper plate grants in 825 A.D. to Mar S(abo)r Iso whom he invited to Kollam from Assyria (present Persia & Syria with Constantinople as the spiritual seat (the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire), and transferring to the Tarasa Church and Vaishnavite Nambuthiri community at Devalokakara (Thevalakara-(Tarsish) in Quilon, lands near the city with hereditament of low caste. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244). It is believed that this conference was called by King Kulshekara to get a clarity on the theology of Divinity of the Trinity. It finally resulted in a major split in the Aryan Nambuthiri community and the consecration of Thevalakara orthodox church with Syrian liturgy by Mar Abo. This followed a debate between Nambuthiris who believed in the St. Thomas tradition of Vaishnavism (Christ as the putra and the only object of sacrifice) but continued in their vedic tradition including Sun Worship, and those who backed Adi Shankara and his Advaita Vedanta in early 9th century (that Christ (isha) and Shiva are one and the difference is only caused between Aramic and Pali language). However it should be particularly noted that Kolla varsham resulted in the origin of Christianity in Kerala as an individual religion outside vedic Vaishnavism as till that time only four vedic Aryan namboothiri families (namely Kaliankal at Nilakal with a branch family at Devalokakara -- near the ancient Koreni-Kollam port -- Paklomattam at Palyoor, Shankarapuri at Niranam and Kalli at Kokkamangalam) were allowed priesthood inside Christianity. The months are named after the constellations of the zodiac. Thus Chingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar
The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Azhcha, similar to 'day' in English names for the days of the week.
Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswathi (Ashvini in Sanskrit) and ending in Revati. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Njattuvela, each one bearing the name of a star
The Malayalam Calendar is part of the Aryanised version of the older Tamil calendar which was in usage till then. Like the Tamil calendar and Hindu calendar, the Quilon Era adopted the Solar Month. But unlike all other Indian Calendars, months were named after the signs of Zodiac. Sun signs from Tamil Zodiac are Mesham, Rishabam, Midhunam, Kadakam, Simmam, Kanni, Thulam, Vruchikam, Dhanusu, Maharam, Kumbham, and Meenam which closely resemble the Malayalam months. [1]
Still many Nambudiri Brahmins claim that they had some role in founding the Malayalam Era. Many Brahmins had migrated to Kerala from Udupi in Tulunadu after 800 AD to serve as priests. But there is nothing to suggest Nambudiri Brahmins had any authority in the administration of ruled by Ay or Aryan kings or this migration of Tamil and Tulu Brahmins was caused due to a direct result of a large scale division among the vast majority Aryan namubuthiri vaishnavites who followed the St. Thomas tradition from the First century after Christ and those who joined the shiviate revival faith in the ninth century following the Adi shankara's Adiveda Vedanta.
According to this there are 4 yugas or eons- Dwapara Yuga, Treta Yuga, Satya Yuga and the Kali Yuga. After the Kali Yuga, all of creation would be annihilated and new Srishti (creation) would be brought into existence again, thus heralding Satya Yuga. But in honor of the Seer Shankaracharya, a new calendar was adopted in Kerala called the Kollavarsham or the Malayalam Calendar. The Malayalam Era (ME) commenced in 825 AD. 825 AD denotes the year Saint Shankaracharya attained Samadhi (freedom from his worldly body). This date is ascertained with reference to Kali Dina Samkhya "Aachaarya Vaagbhadaa" as mentioned by "Paralpperu" or Katapayadi Large scale division among the Nambuthiri community in the background of a shivate revival with a vast majority joining the orthodox church founded in Syrian litergy by Mar Abo inside the St. Thomas Tradition of vaishnavism they embraced in the first century AD itself. The date also receives importance for the arrival of Mar Abo From Asyria through the Red sea route. The conference on the doctrine of Trinity was convened by Kollam King Kuleshakara on the backdrop of Adaveda vedanta, a Pentecostal theology focusing shiva or the holy spirit put forward by Adi Shankara with the veneration of putra(vaishnavism) in the St. Thomas Tradition discounted leading to a major division inside the vedic aryan nambuthiri community with the majority among them joining the orthodox church founded by Mar Abo with Syrian Liturgy. However later vaishnavism was respected(Deshavatharam or one puthra of Brahma to be virgin born in every yuga for Human salvation) and included in the shivite revival faith stream as the case of guruvayur, a 9th century shivite place of worship founded by the nambuthiri community of palayur who followed Adi shankara where Krishna idol was installed in the 12th century.
Mar Abo (780 AD-865AD) was received by kollam king kulshekara Ayyandadikal Thiruvadikal at kore-ni-kollam (Kurekkeni Kollam). kore-ke-ni- (sea pointed inland or a creek) kollam port which was inside the present neendakara Basin of the Arabian sea in Ashtamudi lake and was famed as (Tarshish) and was considered one of the leading ports in Asia till the ninth century AD. The Apostle (St. Thomas )founded one of his "seven and a half churches" in Kollam (Tarsish). They were family or community churches like the one in corinth (constantinopolis) and was immersed in vedic hinduism as neither Holy Bible was codified nor cross was acknowledged as the symbol of Christian faith in the first century AD. The church founded by the Apostle at the ancient kollam port of Tarsish (thevalakara) was re-constructed three times. The second reorganising of the Tarsish Christian nambuthiri community which was still inside vedic vaishnavism was in the 4th century when a Persian cross brought from a Red sea port was erected in accordance with the Nicaea sunnahodose the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, meeting in ancient Nicaea (now İznik, Tur.). It was called by the emperor Constantine I, an unbaptized catechumen, or neophyte, who presided over the opening session and took part in the discussions declaration making the cross the symbol of Christian faith the World over for the first time.

Mar Sabor(Mar Sabir Easo) or Mar Abo as he was fondly called came from Middle East on invitation of Kollam King kuleshakara as an Authority for the Doctrine of Trinity focusing the Putra on the Background of a Pentecostal shivate Revival(focusing only the Holy spirit) of Advaida vedanta propounded by Adi shankara and were also instrumental in developing Christian faith as an independent Religion outside vedic vaishnavism. The start of the Malayalam era(ME) is associated with [kore-kini[Kollam]].[1][2] It is believed that the era was started by the arrival of these Asyriac Monks who settled in KorukeNi kollam ( Tarsish), near to the present Kollam.[3] The ME is also referred as Kollavarsham. Le Quien says that “these bishops were Chaldaeans and had come to Quilon soon after its foundation. They were men illustrious for their sanctity, and their memory was held sacred in the Malabar Church as St. Thomas tradition of Christanity was more vedic than thora or old testament and were called only as vaishnavites for their belief in putra. They constructed many churches in all places of Christian Faith which was then a part of Vedic Vaishnavism (Brahma, putra& Shiva) as Christ then was revered only as putra (the virgin Born begotten son of Brahma and the only object of sacrifice) and, during their lifetime, the Christianity as a religion flourished especially in the kingdom of Diamper.”
Mar Abo"s disciple kadamattathu Achan (Branched from the paklomattam namboothiri community of palayur) founded more than hundred devi temples. Mar abo, who is taking his eternal rest in Thevalakara marthamariam church located at Kollam is Mar S(abo)r. This St. Thomas Traditional church was vedic in nature and was nothing more than the St. Thomas version of vaishnavism acknowledged by the Aryan communities in kerala in the First century AD itself, was renewed in Truth & spirit in 4th century and was built by Mar Sabor with orthodox canon,Syrian Litergy and Rite after receiving the Tarissapali chepadukal Tarsish-a-palli plates (the earliest Historically available official sanction to built a place of worship in Kerala). Eye Medicine and witch craft were also two big contributions of Mar Abo to Kerala society. The fact remains that the largest proportion of texts recovered are from Assyria, especially from the shattered remains of Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh, but also from the old Assyrian capital at Assur, principally excavated by German expeditions in the twentieth century. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the written medical traditions continued in Babylonia after the fall of Assyria as is evidenced particularly by finds in the far southern city of Uruk and in tablets from the Babylon-Sippar area now in the British Museum (many unpublished).

The months are named after the constellations of the zodiac. Thus Chingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:
Comparative table showing corresponding months of other calendars
Months in Malayalam Era In Malayalam
Gregorian Calendar
Tamil calendar
Saka era

Chingam ചിങ്ങം August- September Aavani-Purattasi Sravan- Bhadrapada
Kanni കന്നി September-October Purattasi-Aippasi Bhadrapada - Asvina
Thulam തുലാം October-November Aippasi - Karthigai Asvina - Kartika
Vrishchikam വൃശ്ചികം November-December Karthigai - Margazhi Kartika - Agrahayana
Dhanu ധനു December-January Margazhi - Thai Agrahayana - Pausa
Makaram മകരം January-February Thai - Maasi Pausa - Magha
Kumbham കുംഭം February-March Maasi - Panguni Magha - Phalguna
Meenam മീനം March-April Panguni - Chithtrai Phalguna - Chaitra
Medam മേടം April-May Chithtrai - Vaikasi Chaitra - Vaisakha
Edavam ഇടവം May-June Vaikasi- Aani Vaisakha - Jyaistha
Midhunam മിഥുനം June-July Aani - Aadi Jyaistha - Asada
Karkadakam കര്‍ക്കടകം July-August Aadi - Aavani Asada - Sravana
The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Azhcha (ആഴ്ച - week).
Comparative table showing corresponding weekdays
Malayalam/Tamil Name മലയാളം English
njayar ഞായര്‍ Sunday
thinkal തിങ്കള്‍ Monday
chouwa ചൊവ്വ Tuesday
budhan ബുധന്‍ Wednesday
vyazham വ്യാഴം Thursday
velli വെള്ളി Friday
shani ശനി Saturday
Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswathi (Ashvinī in Sanskrit) and ending in Revatī. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Njattuvela, each one bearing the name of a star.
Significant dates
The festivals Antupirapp (ആണ്ടുപിറപ്പ് - new year, more commonly called Antupiravi (ആണ്ടുപിറവി) or puthuvarsham (പുതുവര്ഷം)), celebrated on the 1st of Chingam, Vishu (വിഷു - astronomical new year), celebrated on the 1st of Medam and Onam (ഓണം), celebrated on the star [tiruʋoːɳəm] in the month of Chingam, are three of the major festivals, the greatest of them being Onam (ഓണം).
The Makaravilakku festival is celebrated in the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on the 1st day of month Makaram. This marks the grand finale of the two-month period to the Sabarimala pilgrimage.
Derived names
Many events in Kerala are related to the dates in the Malayalam calendar.
The agricultural activities of Kerala are centred around the seasons. The Southwest monsoon which starts around June 1 is known as Edavappathi, meaning mid-Edavam. The North east monsoon which starts during mid October is called thulavarsham (rain in the month of thulam). The two harvests of paddy are called Kannikkoythu and Makarakkoythu (harvests in the months kanni and makaram) respectively.