Been brought up a Kerala Iyer, this is how I should start my post. That oo-oh sound should be made like Urvashi makes in Michael Madana Kama Rajan (Tamizh cinema). That’s the Kerala touch.
Most of us couldn’t help falling in love with our beloved Kameshwaran of MMKR!
Well TamBrahms expands to Tamil Brahmins! But there is a separate sect here – the Kerala Iyers as they proudly call themselves. The history/ geography is something like this – a group of people from Tanjavur (Tanjore) settled in parts of Kerala and they adopted some of the Kerala culture. So you can find a mix of Kerala and Brahmin traditions. I guess the majority of Kerala Iyers are from Trivandrum and Palakkad (the 2 ends of Kerala) The Keralites call us Pattars / Phattars / Saami etc. Well I came from this part of the group, so have some hilarious views to share with.
To start with – its not kozhandhela here – that’s replaced with kondhe. Even after I crossed quarter century my father calls me Kondhe that too in PUBLIC. Now I should actually not take this seriously because my Periyappa is still called kondhe. It has become his name now.
We don’t have a language of our own. Atleast that’s what the other part of the community thinks. And that’s mainly because we use a mix of malayalam and Tamizh languages – I would rather say its Malayalam word and Tamizh grammar. Some noteworthy / famous words are
Ennathukku karayarai – ennathukku azharai – why are you crying?
Karayunnu is crying in Malayalam
Nekku panikkardhu – Nekku joram adikardhu – I have fever
Pani is fever in Malayalam but pani is fog in tamizh! So you can understand the confusion in the tamizh world!
Thazhe ukkaru de – keezhe ukkaru de – sit down
Thazhe is down in Malayalam
Samsarathuleye – pechuleye – the way you talk
Kanni manga – vadu manga – raw mango brined in salt water
Naalaikku nertha endhrukkanum – nallaikku seekirama endhrukkanum – get up early tomorrow
Well the list is endless of course and the hilarious part is – the inland letters that were written until few years back had Malayalam lipi (Malayalam letters) but when you read them it would be Tamizh. Though now its common with English (wherein we write all other language words in English alphabets) this is definitely uncommon with other languages. Our mallu friends used to have a fit of laughter reading this.
Well I remember an incident, when I landed in Chennai I was foreseeing my school days to start with. But the first day in school was unforgettable. Nobody understood what I was speaking and I was a chatter box way back then. Finally one of them asked what language are you speaking and I said Tamizh and their reply was #%@%^&W$. Well you can imagine the reaction – it was something like I asked for ellu urundai as a sweet for dipawali day – to put it plainly – it was in a matter of saying “If you are speaking tamizh – what are we speaking” and it took me whole one year to learn the proper tamizh!
Image Courtesy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mailmanoj/4711292041
We celebrate onam and vishu the kerala way. (As if the list of festivals for brahmins is endless,) we being born avid food lovers – relish onam sadhya and vishu sadhya (we will also here dialogues like – nanna chapalam kootindu ukkandhu chaapdu and urutti urutti saapdadhe asamanjam) and also enjoy the onam pookalam and vishu kani. Now we are strict brahmins – so no vellulli (garlic) or ulli (onions) in these sadhyas and ofcourse neivedhyathukku appram dhan elai podanum – meaning offer to god first and then we eat.
Our favourite god is lord Krishna. If you are wondering why – Kerala has lots of Krishna temples – Ambalapuzha, Guruvayoor being the famous ones and all our house will definitely have either a Krishna idol/ photo or an Ayyappan photo.
Some of the temple related festivities we enjoy is Thrissur Pooram, Guruvayoor Ekadasi and Sabarimala Makara Jyothi (all watching live in Asianet/ Kairali/ Surya channels)
And the cooking part – we use looooooots of coconut and coconut oil in our cooking – that’s the main difference. We love to eat Erissery, Kalan, Olan, Puli Inji, Chammandhi Podi – all these recipes I understand have their origin in Kerala. But we are also fond of Thachi mamu and Kanni manga and of course the filter kaapi and that’s our TamBrahm connection ha ha