Commentary on
William Logan’s ‘Malabar Manual’
Miscellaneous notes


QUOTE: Vishu is the astronomical new year day END OF QUOTE

As per the Malabar Traditional Calendar (Malabar Kolla Varasham), I think the New Year begins in the month of Kanni. As per the Travancore Traditional Calendar (Travancore KollaVarsham), the New Year begins in the month of Chingam. However, with the creation of Kerala, most of the Malabar traditions, including language have been wiped out. Now, everything is connected to Travancore systems, which in turn are connected to Tamil and Sanskrit. It is difficult to find persons now in Malabar who know much about the antiquity and traditions of Malabar. Even the traditional language Malabar is slowly getting erased out under the onslaught of Malayalam, which comes with official backing.

The educated classes of Malabar had supported English, during the English rule time. However, with the amalgamation of Malabar with Travancore, English was pushed out and Travancore language Malayalam was ushered in.

As of now, the people of Malabar also swear by Travancore Malayalam traditions and their loyalty is with that language. It is like the Mappillas of Malabar. At least some of them are the descendents of Nayars and also a few of Brahmins, who had been forced to convert to Islam by the Mysorean invaders. However, as of now, the children of these forced converts are fully loyal to Islam.

QUOTE: Onam: This is the day on which Parasu Raman or Vishnu is supposed to descend to earth to see his people happy. END OF QUOTE.

This again is some kind of nonsense, if current-day beliefs are taken into account. As per current-day traditions, Onam traditions are connected to Vishnu appearing in the form of Vamanan appearing before Mahabali. And the Onam day is celebrated on the day, on which Mahabali is believed to be visiting his native-land again to see his subjects.

Travancore State Manual does mention a Tamil (Vattezhuthu) stone inscription dating 27th Medam, 410 M.E (Malayalam Era) at Manalikarai, a petty village near Padmanabhapuram in South Travancore, in which there is mention of Onachelavu.

QUOTE from Travancore State Manual: onachelavu, a special contribution to keep up the annual national festival of that name (Onam).” END OF QUOTE.

This information does carry an additional burden, in that Onam the festival, which is more or less claimed by Malayalees, does seem to have non-Malayalee (Tamil) heritage links. However, the fact might only lead to the contention that Malayalam was just of recent origin.

As to whether Onam is really connected to Malabar or to Travancore traditions is not clear. May be Onam was brought to Malabar from Travancore by the Hindus (Brahmin &c.), or vice versa, and it was forced upon the suppressed populations, as part of their enforced display of subservience.

QUOTE from this book, Malabar: 1. Further, there is reason to think that, this date, 25th August 825, was the day of the Onam festival, when it was, and still is, customary for dependants to visit their suzerains and to do acts of homage either in person or by deputy to them, END OF QUOTE.

2. It was usual in former days, and it is to some extent still prevalent, for superiors to be visited twice a year by their inferiors or dependents with gifts in hand—once at the time of the vernal equinox called Vishu, and once at the time of new moon in August— September, called Onam. END OF QUOTE.

Actually as a social ritual, for the suppressed populations including the semi-slaves and the totally enslaved populations, Onam is a day to celebrate their enslaved status. They have to go to the households of the Hindus and show their obeisance as per their traditional vocation. They would be given some token gifts by their slave-master households.

Vilkurup caste persons would place a bow and arrow in the houses of the Nayar superiors. In return, they would be given some paddy, vegetables, one coconut and some oil.

The household slaves of landlords would be given one para paddy, some salt, one coconut, oil and chilly.

Nayadis would offer four coir ropes of eight yards length to their Nambhuthiri illams, and two ropes in their Nayar houses. In return, the Hindus would offer them a specific amount of paddy.

See this conversation with a slave: QUOTE from Native Life in Travancore: “What are the wages of slaves in other districts ?”

“Half an edungaly, with a trifling present once a year at Onam. END OF QUOTE

QUOTE: Panikkar: A kind of Master of Arts, formerly held in great respect in families as teachers of the use of arms and of martial exercises of all kinds. END OF QUOTE

Is this true?

QUOTE: It is supposed that in Malabar a man has enough to eat if he has 1½ Tippalis of rice and ½ Tippali of conjee a day, or 1 Idangali of paddy of 4 Calicut Nalis There are many in a starving condition who get less, and many affluent who eat more. END OF QUOTE

In the feudal language social system, it is deemed good to give only what is enough for subsistence to the lower-placed populations. For, if they are given more than that, they would start improving beyond their allowed social stature. Actually, only in nations like England etc. are everyone allowed to develop to the best of their potential.

QUOTE: But the extension of the railway to Calicut is likely to result in the reversion of Beypore to its old state of a fishing village END OF QUOTE

That was more or less the undoing of Beypore from the great expectations that must have been nursed by the locals there.

QUOTE: Kunda mountains and the Wavul range extending to Chekkunnanmalai (ചെക്കുന്നൻമല), a high saddle-hill north-east of Ariakode contains teak and other timber in almost inexhaustible quantities END OF QUOTE.

It would be quite worthwhile to scrutinise what has happened to the great forest wealth in the subcontinent after it has been handed over to the local politicians who had their one foot in England, in the year 1947.

QUOTE: Administrative Divisions.—For purposes of administration the Taluk is divided into 64 amsams, each having an Adhikari who collects the tax and is also Village Magistrate and Munsif, and who has under him an accountant (menon) and a couple of peons, except in one instance (Arakurishj amsam) in which the number of peons is four. There is of course a Tahsildar with the powers of a Magistrate of the 2nd class, whose headquarters are at Perintalmanna and who is assisted in his revenue work by a Deputy Tahsildar stationed at Cherupulasseri and usually invested with 2nd-class magisterial powders END OF QUOTE.

The above is about Walluvanad Taluk. The English administrators were slowly introducing an efficient administrative system in the location. The only negativity about this was the fact that the local people had to be handed administrative powers. Unless they were good in English and committed to English, they would be quite feudal and oppressive in the native language communication. This could be one of the reasons that the Mappillas anger on the Hindus (Nayars and higher castes, and their loyal servants) was quite easily diffused on the English administration.