Here is an interesting theory about the community I come from .This again has been reproduced as it is from ‘A Hundred Years of Excellance ’ put together by our cousins the Barathans.Once again a big thank you to Goyo forthis excellantly written piece .
Bound on the East by the Western Ghats and on the West by the Arabian Sea , clearly seperated from the rest of Kerala by the Korapuzha , a perinnial river , the Thiyya community of North Malabar developed it’s own distinctive life style and culture. The Thiyyas of North Malabar were Marumakkathayis and this gave women dominance in their homes and indeed in society, which was rare in other parts of the country. Dowry was unheard of and women shared every aspect of social and cultural life with men as their equals.
The Thiyyas did not worship in temples , but venerated their ancestors and developed a pronounced faith in themselves as inheritors and custodians of the legacy of ancestors worship .Theyyam, the art of the dancing deities was developed as a form of worship.Ancestors who had become legends in their own spheres were depicted by dancers who wore beautiful and awe inspiring regal head gear ad red and gold dresses to match, and had their bodies painted in yellow, red and black.Theyyams
carried ornamental swords and silver bowls and arrows. To the throbbing beat of drums and the eerie music of minature nadaswarams , they re-enacted ancient tales of valour and couage , where demi gods and noble warriors walked the earth,destroyed evil and granted boons to the poor and the down trodden.These Theyyams are to this day worshipped as living and speaking gods.
Sri MM Anand Ram has published a book called ;INFLUK – Crete to Kerala’ ( Keerthi Publishing House Pvt Ltd , Coimbatore..First edition 1999) in which he has developed a theory that in about 1470 or 1450BC there was a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Mount Akrotari in the Island of Crete as a result of which a large portion of the North West Crete Island sank to the bottom of the sea.Subsequent archaeological studies have shown that the absence of human skeletons indicated that the inhabitants had escaped destruction by fleeing for safety.
The Suez Canal was cut open in 1493 BC for movement of country boats between East and West and the Cretans who were expert navigators had no difficulty in cruising to the West Coast of South India.Sri Anand Ram traces the origin of the inhabitants of North Malabar to Crete by pointing out many similarities in their life styles , the pottery they used , their bronze vessels and distinctive style of construction of residential homes. He states that the people of Crete and the Minoan islanda were called Thirayyars meaning navigators.According to Sri Anand Ram, the people of North Malabar were the Cretan or Minoan descendants who were originally known as Thirayyars which gradually came to be pronounced as Thiyyars.
Sri Anand Ram firmly believed that these settlers who landed in North Kerala did not blend with the blood or culture of the original inhabitants who were Malayars or Kurichiyars and that this explains the light colour skin of the North Malabar people.
The Thiyyas of North Malabar were a proud and independent people.Their bravery in battle and in the facing oppression at the hands of the ruling cheftains is euologised in legend and song.They resolutely refused to heed the high handed directions of the local chieftains in matters affecting their life style.
The hilly areas of North Malabar give way to the plains as one nears Calicut.As a matter of fact the Korapuzha forms a natural boundary between the low hills of North Malabar starting from the Ezhumalai range and touching the fringesof Tellichery – Wayanad and the boundaries between
Tellicherry and Coorg. The word Malabar itself means the land of hills . South of Korapuzha the land looks amazingly different with large stretches of sandy soil especially as one nears Kozhikode passing through Koylandi , Payyoli etc. The Korapuzha thus formed a natural boundary , which even affected changs in custom between North and South Malabar.At one time , no Thiyya girl would be given in marriage to anyone south of the Korapuzha , which is beyond Badagara and before Koyilandi.Even in the case of young men , it was only with the greatest pf reluctance that a bride would be choosen if she was from south of this river.
The Thiyyas gradually took up vedic forms of worship including pujas and homams conducted in their homes or in their temples by ordained priests.This change was infuenced by Sri Narayana Gurudev who built three famous temples at Calicut , Tellicherry and Cannanore sowing the seeds of a major change in the Thiyya ethos , making them temple worshippers.