Ezhavas In Kerala

HISTORY OF LARGEST COMMUNITY OF KERALA

The Ezhavas (Malayalam: ഈഴവര്‍) form the largest group among Hindu communities in Kerala. They are also one of the major progressive communities of the state. They are considered to be descendants of Villavar, the founders of ancient Dravidian Chera Dynasty, who once ruled parts of southern India. In Malabar they are called Thiyya, while in Karnataka, they are known as Billavas. They were formerly known as 'Ilavar'. They were Ayurveda Vaidyars, Warriors, Kalari Trainers, Soldiers, Farmers, Cultivators, Siddha Physicians, and Traders. Some were also involved in weaving, textile manufacturing, liquor business and toddy tapping. Ezhavas(Thiyya) dynasties such as the Izhathu Mannanars also existed in Kerala. The Chekavar, a warrior section within the community, were part of the militias of local chieftains and kings. They were also renowned Kalari Payattu experts among them. The circus holds a special attraction among community members in north Kerala and many of the famous acrobats of India come from this community