Location of Kerala in India
Map of Kerala
Kerala Piravi marks the birth of the state of Kerala in India. The state of Kerala was created on November 1, 1956. November 1 is therefore known as Kerala Piravi Dinam (day) in the state. Malayalees around the world celebrate November 1 as Kerala Piravi, which in Malayalam "the birthday of Kerala".
Kerala, the southernmost state of India, was formed long after Indian independence on 15 August 1947. Prior to that date it was three independent provinces named Malabar, Cochin and Travancore. Kerala originally got its name after the first ruler, Keralian Thamboran, who ruled one of these independent provinces earlier in the millennia. But some historians say that the name 'Kerala' comes from "kera", which means coconut tree which is widely seen in the region.
Mythologically, Kerala stretches along the arabian sea from Gokarnam (Gokarna, in Karnataka) to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. According to the Hindu myth Parashurama, incarnation of Mahavishnu (The God-Lord), created Kerala. Parasurama flung his "Mazhu" (axe) from Gokarnam (Gokarna) to the sea and the sea receded to form the land Keralam.
Pre-modern era History
The word Kerala is first recorded (as Keralaputra) in a 3rd-century BCE rock inscription (Rock Edict 2) left by the Maurya emperor Ashoka (274–237 BCE). The Land of Keralaputra was one of the four independent kingdoms in southern India during Ashoka's time, the others being Chola, Pandya, and Satiyaputra.
Megasthanes, the Greek Ambassador to the court of Emperor Chandragupta Maurya (4th Century BC) mentions in his work Indica on many South Indian States, including Automela (probably Muziris), and a Pandian trade centre. Ancient Roman Natural philosopher Pliny the Elder mentions in his Naturalis Historia (N.H. 6.26) Muziris in Kerala as India's first port of importance. According to him, Muziris could be reached in 40 days' time from the Red sea ports in Egyptian coast purely depending on the South West Monsoon winds. Later, the unknown author of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea notes that "both Muziris and Nelcynda are now busy places".
Contact with Europeans after the arrival of Vasco Da Gama in 1498 gave way to struggles between colonial and native interests. In 1795, the area was under British dominion. Merchants from West Asia and Southern Europe established coastal posts and settlements in Kerala.
Jewish connection with Kerala started as early as 573 BCE. Arabs also had trade links with Kerala, possibly started before the 4th century BCE, as Herodotus (484–413 BCE) noted that goods brought by Arabs from Kerala were sold to the Jews at Eden. In the 4th century, some Christians also immigrated from Persia and joined the early Syrian Christian community who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century. Mappila was an honorific title that had been assigned to respected visitors from abroad; and Jewish, Syrian Christian, and Muslim immigration might account for later names of the respective communities: Juda Mappilas, Nasrani Mappilas, and Muslim Mappilas. According to the legends of these communities, the earliest Christian churches, mosque, and synagogue(1568 CE)in India were built in Kerala.
Malabar forms the northern territory with Thallashery, Cannanore and Kasargode with a tiny pocket-handkerchief French possession of Mahe (which was returned to India in the early 1950s and is now administratively part of Pondicherry). This area belonged to what was once called the Madras Presidency under the British. The middle section is formed by the princely State of 'Cochin'; the third, Southern territory, comprises 'Travancore', another princely state.
A series of agitations for political rights and a popular Government begun in Travancore and Kochi early in this century and later joined by other provinces fetched independence in 1947 and the first popular Government took over from the British royal family. On July 1, 1949, Travancore and Kochi joined to form the unified Travancore-Cochin state. But Kerala continued to be politically divided till the 1950s, even in the midst of geographic similarities and solidarity of language.
Formation of Kerala State and Modern era
The present day Kerala state was formed as result of the States Reorganisation Act of 1956, passed by the Government of India. It was a major reform of the boundaries of India's states and territories, organising them along linguistic lines. Kerala was formed by the merger of Travancore-Cochin state with the Malabar district of Madras State, Kasaragod of South Canara (Dakshina Kannada).
The modern Kerala is divided into fourteen districts with Thiruvananthapuram as the state capital. Kerala is one of the first place in the world where a Communist Ministry came into power by a general election in 1957.
Kerala is a 560 km long narrow stretch of land. At the widest, Kerala is 120 km from the sea to the mountains. On one side of Kerala are the lofty mountains ranging high to reach the sky. And on the other side the land is washed by the blue Arabian Sea waters. The land is covered with thick dense tropical forest, fertile plains, beautiful beaches, cliffs, rocky coasts, an intricate maze of backwaters, still bays and 44 rivers. Kerala's exotic spices have lured foreigners to her coast from time immemorial.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race of Alleppey is the largest water sports event.
- Corn, Charles; Glasserman, Debbie (March 1999). The Scents of Eden: A History of the Spice Trade. Kodansha America. ISBN 1-56836-249-8.
- Curtin PD (1984). Cross-Cultural Trade in World History. Cambridge University Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-521-26931-8.