I mean the history of a piece of sand, locked by land and the sea, not so green belt of hills in the east and a mighty sea in the west. we call it Keralam. Kera = coconut, alam = land. Recently there has been a sudden awakening of a sense of history and belonging amoung the mallus, especially the ulakam chuttum (on the road) young ones like me. So what is our history is like.
Is it that 5000 years old blah blah blah harappa...mohanjadharo..mahabharahta... ram janmabhoomi....etc. How close are we to these things. did these things ever happened in our small 'pidi' ( pidi is a kerala shaped sweet made in my home on ash wednesday along with kozhukkatta) shaped land. I dont think so. How much of these have shaped the way we live, the way we build our homes, the way we do business, the we go about our jobs, the way we think. Kerala history is the story of assimilation. Studies have shown that we have been trading with different parts of the world even during the time of harappa and mohanjadaro.
Assyrians the pioneers in written word frequented our shores. mesopotomians, egyptions, may be jews at the time of moses, greeks and romans, every one with a business card came here.
They didnt just came and went. They were welcomed and were given land to establish there communities here. they mixed with our race. Made our blood impure, Ha Ha. we had christians even before rome became christian. When Pope tried to pull the Kerala christians into his papal province, and sent a ambassador on a ship to Kochi, our Kerala christians went to Mattanchery and made an oath over a cross, which proclaimed that they, nor the generations that come from them, will never recognize or respect papacy.It is called the koonan kurisu sathyam.
Our islam is one of the oldest in the world.The first mosque in india is in kerala.Muslims in kerala have one of the most unique islamic culture. Then we had jains and buddhist coming. they loved this place, because of its green calmness, which suited their way of thinking and living. They made their viharams on the hills, forests and where ever they were received. for a certain period of time buddism was our major religion. then there came sankaran from kalady, who thought this atheistic religion called buddism is going to throw us all into barabarian times. he believed, in a thought system and a ritualised way of living based on Vedas, that it should be the real religion of Keralam as well as the whole of bharatham. This man travelled all over india preaching his thought and established mats at key places. His call for old gods and rituals found many ears. Buddisms was replaced by a ritualistic religion. this was the time when mallus started to suffer the burden of that 5000 year old enterprise.
Chinese influence in our culture is the most obvious but the most negleted. Remember 'cheena vala', all the kerala tourism brochures have them. Cheena chatti for our Karimeen fry, cheena bharani for our mango pickle. Our hot selling Kathakalili is said have influences from chinese opera in its costume and style. All the major circus companies in India have its roots in Kerala especially north Kerala. It was the chinese who introduced circus in kerala thru the ports of north kerala. Then there was dutch, portugees and finally the brits.
After budduism left our land we converted their viharams into temples. we practised castism. No,we perfected it. Social reformers like Narayana guru and whole generation of people influenced by him, helped to reduce castism. The spread of education by christian missionaries made knowledge accessable all who was interested. Narayana guru's call to refuse all sorts of caste based thinking lead to the growth of communism in kerala. even though in a bad shape now, communist thought had altered the malayali psyche like no other.
All the above thing have shaped us, it made us into what we are. Not the cultural monolith the Vishva hindu parishat and likes, want us to believe.
Thursday, June 02, 2005