When I Married a Palakkad Iyer Tamizh (err Malayalam) by Archanaa

Blog post by Archanaa Kumar

Born and brought up in Chennai, I belong to a traditional Iyer family that wakes up to suprabatham and filter coffee. As usual, my amma’s one target for the year I was turning 25 was to find me a Chamathu Iyer paiyan and perform Kanya dhanam, sit down in the easy chair, kanla jalam vechundu, to utter–“Appada – bhagavan namma kozhandhaiku oru nalla vazhi kattitar”.And in this quest, all matrimony websites had my Bio data. Iyer – Vadama – Koushika gotram blaa blaa blaa.

There were too many things to be looked at – education, employment, location, family- yeah– Tirunelveli family, tanjavur family, Palakkad family – each one, its own features –the pros and cons of it being analyzed every time a jadagam matched. And finally it was a Palakkad Iyer family that got lucky– enoda Aathukarar ezhu janmam punyam panirkar –to be blessed with me as Aathukari (Yes I mean it) –as the announcement was made to close friends and relatives, opinions came in about palakkad iyers –“very down to earth people”., “very simple people and not much demands” and yes it was indeed true – simple and loving family it is. Bingo!

I moved in with my future family– oops – with my family after marriage and I was all excited about new house , new people – my mamiyar who has the designation of Amma now, my nathanar – younger one (yay I got lucky – just a joke, don’t read between lines ) , and my beloved Aathukarar. I had no clue I was about to learn a new language.

First day in the kitchen with my AMMA (referring MIL), she said

Amma: kondhe andha sambar konjam elakku

Me: enna amma sonnel

Amma: andha sambar konjam elakku, thalaikardhu, kashnam vendhurko paru

She wanted me to stir the sambar with the ladle as it was boiling. My version of it would have been. “Sambar kodhikardhu, konjam kalakku” or something similar. Wow – Elakku meant to mix/stir. I had to add it to my diction. And kashnam I thought was the veggies inside – it essentially meant piece, Google the lifesaver. I was literally learning Malayalam you see.

I have loads of hilarious ones too.

Me: Amma mazhai thoorardhu, man vasanai is amazing

Amma: Mazhai epdi thoorum?

As I explained Thooral is drizzle, she giggled saying thooral is loose motion kondhe. “What?” Yeah I was speaking tamizh, she was hearing Malayalam, her version of tamizh.

Ennavakkum, epdi irukaai, thallalai – being unwell , koraikardhu – no not barking- it is cough  , kazhichacha ( it means saptacha , stop smirking)  were more words that got added to my TALAYALAM dictionary , all the while being conscious I don’t start replacing my Tamizh words with these Malayalam words. Ormai vechunden. I mean- gynabagam, alright I give in.

Everytime something new came up, I told AMMA and my sis in law it was Malayalam and secretly googled to make sure it was a Malayalam word that had got entwined. My hubby also used a few Talayalam words, however his staying in Chennai for work four years before marriage cleansed his Talayalam to more of Tamizh – yeah that was a Bonus for me, else it would have been a novel in place of this blog that would have read – “I married him, and my Tamizh ran away” – just joking.


Image Courtesy: travel.manoramaonline.com

A lot more in store, my Talayalam tales continue as my little angel ( my three year old ) comes to me and says “Amma ennavakum , enna panraai, ithara naazhi aachu” – I am a Palakkad Iyer maatupon and I love it – Ithara ishtam. Period.


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78 thoughts on “When I Married a Palakkad Iyer Tamizh (err Malayalam) by Archanaa

  1. My Wife’s cousin was newly married and she and her husband had come to visit us. We were talking about my sis-in-law who lived in London and had just given birth to twins… He says “Pani vanna rendu paerukkum romba kashtam,and I was thinking that he was referring to London winters and said, “Pani vandha ange ellarukkum dhane kashtam!”


  2. I enjoyed this article thoroughly . I am a Palaghatti Mumbai wala now setlled in Chennai. So I can enjoy every bot of it. Thanks


  3. Differences of chakarai and panchasarai when chakarai means jaggery in Talayalam.
    Valakumaar and Choolu
    Upperi and Poriyal

    I also remember of a Palakkad Maami telling a Tamil Maami —— ongalukku rombha budhimuttu and the Tamil mami got annoyed as she thought the palakkad mami was saying “less” brain.


  4. Absolutely loved it..😂😂 was giggling pretty bad at the thoorarathu part coz when ever some one says that it instantly reminds me of an upset stomach 😂😂


  5. Loved reading this article as I can totally relate to it. Was hilarious when my MiL first said Karappu for the color black 🙂


  6. orae oru karekshan kaettaeLaa.

    viLambarathtula kaundinya kOthramnu irukkappadeaadhu NON kaundinya kOthramnu irukkaNumaakkum



  7. When my daughter got married to palakad iyer settled in USA the grooms mother came and asked me ,”can you get me erandu kutty. “0Kutty in Talayalam means paruputhengai .conical sweet item. I immediatly asked her”aan kuttya alathu penn kuttya. “Which means a boy or a girl. The whole lot of relatives had a good laugh .


  8. Good article. The pic seems to be of kalpathy. I use the word madhuram to indicate excessive sweet…my wife who is from kumbakonam was like Madhur who? Your friend??


  9. Nice read. Very similar to my experience in the initial days. Infact the first time I heard my husband speak his “Tamil”, i had to clarify whether it was Tamil or Malayalam!!
    We both argue who’s Tamil is the actual Tamil 😉
    But now after 5 years.. I’ve got a good hold of the Palakkad Tamil 😀

    N yeah.. Coincidentally even I am Archana 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am Pushpa here. read your article hilarious .There was a standard joke in our palakkad house hold in Calicut .we had a palakkad cook and a thalayalee help. Thalayalee help asks the cook ‘ antha varagu( firewood) kathumo? ( will the firewood burn?) since in those cooking was done with firewood so the palakkad cook says ‘dei!! Athu Enna aada( goat) maada( cow) katharathukku!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My wife, who is from Chennai, had a similar assimilation process when she entered our household. Her favourite, though, was when she was told, “Rombathan Kattarai”. She, for a moment, thought she was exposing too much, until she realised that was not what her sister-in-law meant!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hilarious Archana !

    I am Thanjavur Iyer married to a Palakkad Iyer ( though we both grew up in Bombay)

    I had a lot of such experiences in the first few years of my marriage . A few ..
    Doshai ( h absolutely necessary) chudalama v/s dosa vaakalama

    Pappadam kachineya v/s appalam porichaya
    And the yaaaay instead of illai or vendam

    I am still the kazhakatti mattuponnu of the family 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My fave- my aunt yelling at a wedding: “aiyyo, vilakku kattharadhu!!!!”, seeing a lit lamp. Half the guests at the function were Tamizh and thought she was nuts…. =)

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Story nanna irukku…tyaa….namba bhaashai namba bhaashai dhaan…illava….nethiki vengidita naan adhaan chonnen…’dei…chumma kashkathe chorunjindu irukaadheda…pusddhakathe eduthundu konjam padi..’

    Liked by 1 person


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