Malayalis mark the formation of the State of Kerala

Bhagyasree Nair

Bhagyasree Nair

Auckland, November 1, 2021

Editor’s Stand First: Kerala is the most literate State in India and its people are among the most industrious and hard-working in the world. It is often said that much of the credit for the prosperity of the countries of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council and many other countries belongs to them. Keralites form a part of vibrant communities across the Continents. Among them are scientists, medical practitioners, accountants, engineers, computer and other professionals, businesses and artistes. Indian Newsink salutes the people of Kerala for their perseverance and spirit of service and congratulates them on the occasion of the Formation of their State.

The Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam is celebrating Kerala Piravi today, November 1, 2021.

Members and guests of the Samajam will be showcasing various events and activities which will include family photo competition with lucky dip wearing traditional attire, videos on the history, culture and local festivals of Kerala district series, Malayalam poem series and traditional recipe series on their Facebook and YouTube pages.

The main attraction of this event is a video compiled on the history of Kerala to give our younger generation an insight into the important events of the State’s past, which they might not be aware of or aren’t taught in their school curriculums.

History of the State

Kerala Piravi marks the birth of the State of Kerala and is a significant day for Malayalis around the world. Present-day Kerala was formed on November 1, 1956, nine years after India gained Independence.

Kerala previously consisted of four major provinces: South Canara, Malabar, Cochin and Travancore. Malabar had been ruled by the Zamorin of Calicut, the Arakkal Kingdom, the Kingdom of Valluvanad, and several other small feudal States before being unified by Tipu Sultan. Tipu launched campaigns against the expanding British East India company that led to the Anglo-Mysore wars. The Anglo-Mysore wars led the northern parts of the State to be ceded by the British East India company and was later annexed by the Madras Presidency. Cochin was administered from Thrissur and the southern Kingdom of Travancore was ruled from the city of Thiruvananthapuram.

British Raj

By the end of the 18th century, the State fell completely under the control of the British Empire. Initially they suffered local resistance against their rule under the leadership of Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, who had popular support in the Thalasseri and Wayanad regions. The municipalities of Kozhikode, Palakkad, Kannur and Thalasseri were founded on November 1, 1866, making them the first to be formed under the British Indian Empire.

The Malabar Special Police was formed by the colonial government which had its headquarters in Malappuram. The British also converted the ‘Thiyyar Pattalam’, the Thiyyar Army into the official Thiyyar Regiment centred in Thalasseri in 1904.

 

(Image from Facebook)

There were major revolts in Kerala during the independence movement in the 20th century, most notably the Malabar Rebellion and the social struggles in Travancore. Some social struggles against caste inequalities also erupted in the early decades of the 20th century, leading to the 1936 Temple Entry Proclamation that opened Hindu temples in Travancore to all castes. The reform was issued by Maharaja Chithira Thirununal Balarama Varma on November 12, 1936. It was signed by him on the eve of his 24th birthday.

The Proclamation abolished the ban of ‘low caste people’ from entering Hindu temples. This was a landmark social reform judgement made in Travancore and Kerala. After the reform was made, Mahatma Gandhi addressed a letter to the young Maharaja stating that he had become a ‘mahatma’ himself by rejecting archaic, regressive, age-old customs by throwing open the temples to all brothers and sisters whom the hateful tradition referred to as “untouchables.”

The Aikya Keralam Movement

After partition in 1947, the regions of Cochin and Travancore merged to form a union in 1949. The Aikya Keralam ‘United Kerala’ Movement gathered momentum in the 1940s. In 1945, a combined meeting of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, the Cochin State People’s Congress and the Travancore State Congress planned to form Kerala as a separate State.

Kerala Varma, the Maharaja of Cochin sent a message to the Cochin Legislative Council in 1946 favouring the early formation of the State comprising of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar. In April 1947, the ‘Aikya Kerala’ Conference was held in Thrissur. It was attended by hundreds of delegates from all regions.

The Convention demanded that the State be formed with the princely States of Travancore, Cochin, Malabar and British occupied Malayalam speaking areas and Mahe.

The States Reorganisation Act 1956, a major reform organising India’s States and territories which was brought about by the first democratically elected government of India led to the formation of fourteen States based on linguistic lines.

Thus, on November 1, 1956, the four provinces merged to form the entire State of Kerala as we know it today based on the common language of Malayalam that the people speak.

Democracy becomes the norm

The State formed its first democratically elected government under the historic leadership pf EMS Namboodiripaad, who became the first chief minister of the State. His Communist-led government resulted from the very first elections conducted to form a new Kerala Legislative Assembly in 1957. His government pioneered radical landmark reforms within the land and education sectors of the State which helped Kerala become the country’s leader in social indicators.

AMHS invites everyone to participate and witness the celebrations to be conducted on their official Facebook page and YouTube channel. Videos highlighting important festivals, historical landmarks and special programmes dedicated to each of the 14 districts of Kerala from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram will be showcased.

Bhagyasree is a Member of the Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam.

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