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The Chekavars of Malabar

Posted by Maddy Labels:

Chekavars and their Tiyya origins 

I had written an article exploring the origins of the Tiyyas of Malabar some years ago and many comments came in, some asking new questions, some adding new insights, but I missed covering something which could have provided a more definite angle. Recently I got back to studying the Vadakkan Pattukal or Northern ballads and some books on that subject, notably the volume 1 on the Ballads by C Achyutha Menon, some fine articles by the eminent MD Raghavan and an explanatory volume by the great historian KS Mathew. All of them spent a few pages on the first set of Ballads dealing with Aromal Chekavar, also Tacholi Othenan and dwelled a bit on the time period of these dueling heroes. In particular they explored the origin of these Chevakars or Chekavers, living among the other traditional communities of Malabar such as Nairs and Chetties and also pointed out the lack of importance or presence of the Namboodiris who were mentioned only in passing in the ballads as temple priests (perhaps they were mostly settled between Tirunavaya and North of Trissur and minding their business).