(Last Updated on : 08/04/2009)
The Ezhavas belong to the backward community and form 30% of the population of Kerela. They have gained a position of strength in the social and political life of Kerela too. Originally their occupation was toddy-tapping but now poets, philosophers, Ayurvedic physicians and astrologers are also to be included within this community.
History Of The Ezhava Community
: There are many theories that suggest that the origin of this particular community lie outside India. However there are not enough evidences to justify such a stance. The name 'Ezhava' is said to apply to those who inhabit Quilon and the southern parts of Kerela, those who live between Quilon and Cochin are known as Chovans, the Thiyyas being spread over the north of Cochin, especially in Malabar.
Religion Of The Ezhava Community
Though traditionally outcastes among the Hindus of Kerela, they enjoyed the respect and regard of royalty. Their religious practices have been influenced by Buddhism and widespread adherence to Shaivite and Tantric rituals. Though they are usually known as a community of farmers and toddy-rappers, they have also a tradition of scholarship in Sanskrit subjects.
Since their origins go back to the dim past, the customs and beliefs of the Ezhavas and Thiyyas are primitive. The old Tamil background gave them the god Subrahmania and the goddess Kali and Buddhism introduced Chathan, Chithan and Arathan - all Sanskrit synonyms for the Buddha.
Society Of The Ezhava Community
: Ezhava community follows a matriarchal family pattern. However there are groups within this community who follow a patriarchal social set up as well. Marriage ceremonies vary from place to place for this community.
The Ezhavas have a penchant for reform and revolution and some of the outstanding leaders of religious, cultural and social changes have sprung from them.