Kerala Iyers

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Kerala Iyers
Regions with significant populations
Palakkad district, Kerala
Travancore Region
(Trivandrum district, Alappuzha district), Kerala
Thrissur district, Kerala
Ernakulam district, Kerala
Kozhikode 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 the Kerala region, and also people who migrated from present day Tamil Nadu in different waves from the time of the Chera dynasty.. They are Hindus. The community consists of two groups - the Palakkad Iyers and Iyers of the Cochin and Travancore regions.[1]

Kerala Iyers, like the Iyers of Tamil Nadu and the Nambudiris 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 not recruited as the priest (shanthi) in Kerala temples which followed Tantric rituals. So Iyers being Vedic scholars built their own temples in their Agraharams to conduct pooja, since they followed the Agama rituals and not the Tantric rituals of the Nambudiris.[2]

Brahmana Samooham[edit]

Where ever they settled, the Kerala Iyers lived together in communities. The settlement consisting of array of houses and other amenities developed by Tamil Brahmins in Kerala came to be known as Agraharam as in other parts of South India. Each Agraharam consist of two rows of houses facing each other. There is no courtyard but only common street. Several such Agraharams together form an organization called "Samooham".[3] There existed 95 Agraharams in Kerala where Brahmins lived in peace, with unity, equality and simplicity.[4] From 18th century onwards Tamil Brahmins started establishing "Samooha Madoms". These were common gathering places for get together, conducting religious rites and rituals, cultural events and so on. Samooha Madoms were physically located in close proximity to the temple of the main Village Deity for the convenience of all members. It is believed that as much as 250 Samooha Modoms were established by Tamil Brahmins throughout Kerala.[5] (KBS 2012 – Editorial)[full citation needed] This was done with the active aid and support of the rulers of the locality. These Samooha Madoms were known by various names such as Brahmana Samooham, Gramajana Samooham, Grama Samudayam and Grama Samooham. Large land endowments were instituted by wealthy community members for the unhindered progress of different activities in these Samooha Madoms.

Palakkad Iyers[edit]

The Palakkad Iyers were greatly affected by the Kerala Agrarian Relations Bill, 1957 (repealed in 1961 and substituted by The Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963) which abolished the tenancy system.[6]

Travancore Iyers[edit]

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.[7]

Notable people[edit]

Journalists and writers[edit]


Politicians and administrators[edit]


The Kerala Brahmana Sabha is the apex organization of Kerala Iyers.


  1. ^ Haridas, V. V. (2016). Zamorins and the political culture of medieval Kerala. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan. p. 36. ISBN 9788125061281. 
  2. ^ Temples of Kerala
  3. ^ Menon, T. Madhava; Tyagi, Deepak; Kulirani, B. Francis (2002). People of India: Kerala, Volume-27, Part-3. New Delhi: Affiliated East-West Press Pvt. Ltd. pp. 1396–97. ISBN 8185938997. 
  4. ^ "Brahmins and Agraharams". Brahmin Today. Chennai: Vacha Publication. 10 (11). January 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Editorial". 42nd Annual General Body News Supplement. Alappuzha: Kerala Brahmana Sabha: 1–3. 2013. 
  6. ^ "Landmark Legislations - Land Reforms". Kerala Legislative Assembly. Retrieved 2008-08-27. 
  7. ^ Nandakumar, T. "Agraharams on the way out?". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 
  8. ^ Mahadevan, Shankar (8 September 2013). "I am a Malayali grew up in Mumbai: Shankar Mahadevan" (Interview). Interview with John Brittas. Kairali TV. 0:38. Retrieved 4 January 2010 – via Kairali Archive on YouTube. Interviewer: You have some connection with Kerala in fact, your family migrated from Palakkad or something like that. Shankar Mahadevan: Yes, I am an Iyer from Palakkad actually 

External links[edit]