|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2011)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Palakkad district, Kerala
(Trivandrum district, Alappuzha district), Kerala
Thrissur district, Kerala
Ernakulam district, Kerala
Malappuram district, Kerala
Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu
Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu
Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu
Tanjore district, Tamil Nadu
Thirunelveli Tamil Nadu
|Kerala sub-dialects of Tamil|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Iyers, Malayali people, Tamil Brahmin, Malayali Brahmins|
Kerala Iyers or Bhattars, are Tamil Brahmins of the Indian state of Kerala — people who were residents in Kerala region, and also people who migrated from present day Tamil Nadu in different waves starting from the medieval period onwards. The community consists of two groups - the Palakkad Iyers and Iyers of the Cochin and Travancore regions. The first wave of Iyers settled down in Palakkad district at the beginning of the medieval period. Migrations to the Travancore and Cochin regions took place mostly in the 16th and 17th centuries AD. Many of the Diwans or Prime Ministers of the princely state of Travancore were Tamil Brahmins.
Kerala Iyers, like the Iyers of Tamil Nadu and the Namboothiris of Kerala, belonged to the Pancha Dravida classification of India's Brahmin community. They mostly belonged to the Vadama and Brahacharanam sub-sects. Iyers were usually employed as cooks, musicians and temple assistants, since they were not allowed to conduct pooja as the priest (shanthi) in Kerala temples which followed Tantric rituals. So Kerala Iyers built their own temples in their Agraharams to conduct pooja. Kerala Iyers and other Tamil Brahmins ranked below the orthodox Nambudiri Brahmins in the Malayali caste hierarchy and the touch of a Tamil/Kerala Iyer meant that the Nambudiri was defiled by Eda Shudam which required the Nambudiri to bathe before resuming rituals.
There has been a long debate[by whom?] on the linguistic background of the Kerala Iyers, most Kerala Iyers came to kerala as early as the 13th century. Thus there constant interaction with Malayalam and Malayalis eventually highly increased the level of Sanskritisation into their Brahmin dialect of Tamil which in itself was sanskritised thus as time flew most of them started to speak a form of Tamil highly concentrated with Malayalam.
- 1 History
- 2 Palakkad Iyers
- 3 Travancore Iyers
- 4 List of Kerala Iyers
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 External links
The waves of Tamil Brahmin migration into Kerala continued till the first half of 14th century, a few centuries after the decline of all the great Hindu empires of Tamil Nadu (such as Chola and Pandya dynasties). During the invasions of Malik Kafur and subsequent Muslim kingdoms, large numbers of Tamil Brahmins migrated and settled down on the western side of the Western Ghats which provided them security and safety from the invaders. Occasionally, Iyers also migrated from Tamil Nadu at the invitation from the Rajas of Kerala. The waves of Tamil Brahmin migration into Kerala continued till the first half of 20th century.
Over the years these migrants built up their own individual culture and established an identity of their own. In Kerala, they are commonly referred to as Bhattars. The word 'Bhattar', a Sanskrit word indicating Brahmins. This was one of the earlier surnames used by the Tamil Brahmins.
The Tamil Brahmins who originated from Palakkad district of Kerala, which is close to Tamil Nadu, are known as Palakkad Iyers. They were mainly from the Tanjore district in the State of Tamil Nadu. From Palghat they migrated to other parts of North Kerala which were part of the erstwhile Madras Presidency like Kozhikode and Malappuram. The mother tongue of Iyers is Tamil but the dialect that Kerala Iyer speaks is heavily influenced by Malayalam vocabulary. The Palghat Iyers was a land holding community owning extensive cultivable land in Palghat, Chittoor and surrounding areas. They were in a majority in Palghat town. The members of the community held the office of the Municipal Chairman for a number of years.
Kuzhalmannam Agraharam is the prominent Agraharam in Palakkad. Each Palakkad Iyer family is associated with a temple or kavu close to their Agraharams. The next generation of Iyers is named and their horoscope is documented.
Many of the Travancore Iyers were the original residents of Travancore. There were many Iyers in Venad which later on grew to be the Travancore state. Shungoonny Menon calls them Native of Travancore.
There has also been a continuous inflow from Thirunelveli and Ramnad districts of Tamil Nadu which are contiguous to erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Many parts of the present Thirunelveli district were part of the old Travancore state. Some of these migrated to Cochin and later to Palakkad and Kozhikode districts.
During the rule of Travancore kings, many Iyers (Tamil Brahmins) were invited to Thiruvananthapuram for administrative requirements of Travancore kingdom and for participating in rituals related to Padmanabhaswamy Temple. Some Padamangalam_Nairs involved in temple service are thought to be descendants of Travancore Iyers. The migration continued for decades, and thus Iyer population is concentrated around this temple in Trivandrum.
List of Kerala Iyers
Journalists and writers
- Ulloor Parameswara Iyer (1877–1959), Malayalam poet
- Professor K. V. Krishna Iyer (1894–1986), Professor of history and author of standard reference books on Kerala History
- Malayattoor Ramakrishnan (1927–1997), Malayalam novelist
- S. N. Swamy, Indian screenwriter
- K. K. Neelakantan well known by his pen name Induchoodan, a leading Indian ornithologist and writer of the best known book on birds of Kerala, 'Keralathile Pakshikal' (Birds of Kerala)
- V. R. Krishna Iyer (b. 1915), judicial expert and Justice, Supreme Court of India, minister in first kerala ministry
- P. R. Sundaram Iyer (1862–1913), Indian lawyer and founder of Madras Law Journal. Grandfather of cinematographer P. C. Sreeram
- Justice Sir C.V. Aananthakrishnan Aiyer, former Judge of the Madras High Court and former Chief Justice of the Cochin High Court, father of Justice C.A. Vaidialingam (former Judge, Supreme Court of India) and C.A. Ramakrishnan ICS (former Chief Secretary, Govt. of Tamil Nadu).
- K. N. Ananthapadmanabhan (b. 1968), former Kerala Ranji Trophy cricketer
- Bajan Harimama of Nurani (1928-2011)- The only people with Bajan prefix against their name
- Bajan Appumama of Nurani -The only people with Bajan prefix against their name
- Neelakanta Sivan (1839–1900) Carnatic music composer from Nagercoil, erstwhile Travancore kingdom
- Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar (1895–1974), Carnatic music singer
- Palakkad Mani Iyer (1912–1981), Musician/Mridangist
- Palghat R. Raghu (1925–2009), Musician/mridangist
- M. D. Ramanathan (1923–1984), composer/vocalist
- K. V. Narayanaswamy (1923–2002) Carnatic musician (singer)
- T. N. Krishnan (1928- ) Carnatic music violinist
- N. Rajam Hindustani music violinist and sister of T. N. Krishnan
- Parur Sundaram Iyer Carnatic violinist and first introduced violin into Hindustani music. Father and guru of great violinist M. S. Gopalakrishnan
- M. S. Anantharaman and M. S. Gopalakrishnan Carnatic violinists.
- T. V. Gopalakrishnan (1932- ) Carnatic and Hindustani vocalist, violinist and Mridangam exponent
- Trichur V. Ramachandran (1940- ) Carnatic vocalist
- Guruvayur Dorai (1935-) Mridangam exponent of Pudukkottai style
- K S Narayanaswamy (1914–1999) Carnatic Veena exponent
- V. Dakshinamoorthy (1919- ) veteran music director of Malayalam films and Carnatic vocalist
- Chalakudy N.S. Narayanaswamy Carnatic violinist. Sangeet Natak Akademi Award winner, 1988
- A. Ananthapadmanabhan Carnatic Veena artist
- Vechoor Harihara Subramania Iyer Carnatic vocalist
- Palakkad K.V.Gopalakrishnan Carnatic vocalist and Mridangam artist
- K.S. Gopalakrishnan (musician) Exponent of Carnatic flute
- Kudamaloor Janardanan Exponent of Carnatic flute
- Thondikkulam Anantharama Bhagavathar exponent of Harikatha style of music
- Puducode Krishnamurthy Carnatic vocalist
- Thiruvillwamala Venkichan Swamy (real name Venkateswara Iyer), an exemplary teacher and peerless performer of Kerala drum Maddalam; systematized the playing-culture of Maddalam in Panchavadyam and Kathakali.
- Thiruvilwamalai Kondhai a great exponent of Kerala drum Chenda
- K. V. Mahadevan famous South Indian music composer
- N. C. Vasanthakokilam (1919–1951), Carnatic music singer and Tamil film actress
- Bombay Sisters C. Saroja and C. Lalitha, a Carnatic music singing duo
- Ranjani and Gayatri Carnatic music singers (duo)
- Usha Uthup Indian pop, jazz and playback singer
- B. Arundhathi playback singer in Malayalam films and Carnatic vocalist
- Anuradha Sriram playback singer and Carnatic vocalist
- Trichur R Mohan Mridangam artist. His sons are Carnatic vocalists Srikrishna Mohan and Ramkumar Mohan (Trichur Brothers)
- Hariharan Playback singer and performer; carnatic & Hindi classical
- Shankar Mahadevan Born in Mumbai, a popular National Award winning musician who has sung many songs in Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu.
- Manohar Iyer Has a music troupe 'Keep Alive' in Mumbai that specialises in old Hindi film music
- Vaikom Valliammal,Music Teacher,(1932-1995)
Scientists and academicians
- Dr. T V Ramakrishna Iyer was a great Entomologist of South India and was the State Entomologist of former Madras Province. He also worked as Principal of Madras Agricultural College, Coimbatore prior to retirement.
- C.V.Vaidyanathan professor of biochemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
- C.P.Natarajan former director, Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore
- Dr. Ananthakrishnan former director, National Dairy Research Institute, Bangalore
- R S Krishnan former Head of the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He received DSc from Madras University working under Nobel laureate C.V. Raman
- N.S.Ramaswamy laid the foundations of industrial engineering in India and who became the first director of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore
- Sattanatha Iyer former Head of Department of History of Annamalai University and a great authority on Indian History
- Dr.Ulloor M.Parameshwaran Library Science scholar, graduate of Loughborough University U.K
- Dr. Ananth. V. Iyer Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Purdue University. Author of Toyota Supply Chain Management: A Strategic Approach to Toyota's Renowned System, Orchestrating Supply Chain Opportunities, Managing Supply Chain on the Silk Road.
- Dr. T. V. Raman is a computer scientist who specializes in accessibility research.His research interests are primarily in the areas of auditory user interfaces and structured electronic documents.
- V.R. Venkiteswara Iyer was the first Indian Principal of the prestigious Maharaja's College, Ernarkulam
- Dr. Parameswar Krishnan Iyer Professor of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, is a scientist and a teacher. He has been developing new conjugated polymers, metallo polymers and oligomer systems for optoelectronic device applications [OLED, Organic photovoltaic, TFT], chemical and biological sensor applications and therapeutics.
- Jayaram (b. 1964), Malayalam and Tamil film actor
- Vidya Balan (b. 1978), Bollywood Actress
- Kalpana Iyer, Bollywood actress
- Sudha Chandran Film and television actress and a Bharathanatyam dancer who performs with a prosthetic leg
- S. G. Kittappa (1906–1933), Tamil stage actor and classical singer. Husband of singer K. B. Sundarambal
- Poornima Jayaram, Tamil and Malayalam film actress
- Priyamani (b. 1984), National Award winning South Indian film actress
- Trisha Krishnan (b. 1983), Tamil and Telugu film actress
- Saranya Mohan (b. 1989), South Indian film actress
- Priya Raman Malayalam and Tamil film actress
- P. C. Sreeram, Tamil film cinematographer and director
- M. S. Thripunithura (1942–2006), Malayalam film actor
Politicians and administrators
Raju Narayanaswami, IAS
- Ramayyan Dalawa, famous Dewan of Travancore from 1737 to 1756. Strategic advisor to Maharaja Marthanda Varma during the Battle of Colachel against the Dutch.
- Janaki Ramachandran (1923–1996), Wife of M.G. Ramachandran and the first woman Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
- T. N. Seshan (1930- ), 10th Chief Election Commissioner of India.
- N.K.Seshan former Finance Minister of Kerala and Head of the Department and Dean of Faculty of Language and Literature in Calicut University
- C.M. Sundaram (1919–2008) Minister for local administration in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala from 1982 to 1987.
- Krishna Gopalayyan, Diwan of Travancore from 1768 to 1776.
- K.C.S. Mani, Communist revolutionary
- V. Nagam Aiya (1850–1917), civil servant, chronicler and administrator from the princely state of Travancore. Author of The Travancore State Manual.
- Sankaranarayana Iyen, Diwan of Travancore from 1815 to 1816.
- Sir K. Seshadri Iyer, (1845–1901) Dewan of Mysore from February 1883 to March 1901, the longest tenure for any Dewan of the princely state
- Shungrasoobyer, Dewan of Travancore from 1892 to 1898.
- V. S. Subramanya Iyer, Indian lawyer and administrator. Diwan of Travancore from 1929 to 1932.
- Vadiswaran Subrahmanya Iyer, Diwan of Travancore from 1776 to 1780.
- Varkala Subbiyen, Diwan of Travancore from 1763 to 1768.
- Kris Gopalakrishnan (real name Senapathy Gopalakrishnan) one of the founders of Infosys
- Good Knight founded by R. Mohan started manufacturing mosquito repellant Good Knight and film company Good Knight Films
- Jyothy Laboratories founded by M.P. Ramachandran produces renowned brand of fabric whiteners and washing soaps, Ujala
- Kalpathy Group founded by Kalpathy Suresh and his brothers has various businesses in private equity and entertainment
- Kalyan Group founded by T.S. Kalyanarama Iyer is the holding company for the brands of Kalyan Silks, Kalyan Sarees, Kalyan Jewellers, etc.
- Sitaram Spinning and Weaving Mills an old textile mill founded by T.R. Ramachandra Iyer at Thrissur
- Swami Poornananda Thirtha established the Vyasa Ashram in Parlikkad, Thrissur, Kerala
- Swami Bhoomananda an Indian Sannyasin and social reformer, known for his talks and discourses on Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Srimad Bhagavatam
- Tripurananda Bharat laid the foundations for the almanac reforms of Kerala
- Swami Adhyatma Chaitanya of Shyama Narayanalayam near Alappuzha, Kerala is doing yeoman service to those addicted to drugs in USA
- Temples of Kerala
- http://namboothiri.com/articles/sudham.htm Eda-Shudham of Nambudiris
- "Landmark Legislations - Land Reforms". Kerala Legislative Assembly. Retrieved 2008-08-27.
- A History of Travancore, by P. Shungoonny Menon.
- "The trio in action again". The Hindu. 2005-08-26. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Never Say Never Again". The Indian Express. 2005-07-03. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- P.Sangunny Menon (1878 (Reprint 1983)). A History of Travancore. Kerala books and Publications Society, Cochin. ISBN 81-85499-14-4.
- Thurston, Edgar; K. Rangachari (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India Volume I - A and B. Madras: Government Press.