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Travancore

amongst, malabar, native, cochin, jews and races

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TRAVANCORE has an area of 6730 square miles, and a population of 2,401,158, being 357 to the square mile ; the males, in 1881, were 1,197,1:31, and females 1,204,024. The Travancore dominion is also called Kerala, a term which is supposed to be derived from its dense forests of cocoanut palms. It is also called Veyni1d, also Tirupapur bwarupam, likewise Karma-Bhumi, the eastern coast being Jnana or Punnea-Bhurni. Trividani Code is the original of the Travancore of the English. The people know it as part of the Malealam, which means literally hill and dale. In the native parlance, the term comprises the districts of Malabar, South Canara, and the Native States of Cochin and Travancore. By Europeans, however, Malabar is the name given to the coast region of the extreme S.W. of the Peninsula of India. Its inhabitants have not been often dis turbed by foreign war, but the external influences of foreign races engaged in commerce have been largely felt.

Parasurama, in his invasion from the north, overran the provinces below the ghats, overcame the races which he found there, exterminated the higher classes, and introduced foreigners. His march probably extended to Cape Comorin, whence he drove Havana, the native ruler, and many of his followers, into Ceylon, from which, at a later period, the ancestors of some of the castes of Tinnevelly and of the Tiyars of Malabar returned. He was not a Brahman, hut seems to have been an aboriginal chief whom the Brahmans employed in their schism with the Kshatriya ; he is repre sented as exterminating the Kshatriya with his battle-axe (parasu), which is the distinguishing weapon of the Kond. He has been deified as one of the incarnations of Vishnu.

Bombay to Cape Comorin are many indicatioias of long-continued intercourse with western nations, and from prehistoric times coins of Augustus, Tiberius, and later emperors have been found in Malabar and Coimbatore. A colony of Nestorian Christians from Antioch early settled to the south of Goa. The Jews of Cochin possess copper s'asanams of a king of Kerala, attested by witnesses signing their names in Archaic Hebrew, Cufic, and Pehlavi, about the 6th or 7th century.

Many families professing Judaism are scattered through the Southern Konkan, but they are not Jews, more probably Samaritans, who call them selves Ban-i -Israel. In Cochin there are two classes of Jews, one of them very fair, and of pure descent from the parent stock, the other dark, and probably proselytes or slaves.

Rulers.—Since the 14th century, portions of this coast region have been under the control of the dynasty of Bijanagar, of the Adal Shahi of Bijapur, of the Portuguese and Dutch from Europe, of Muhammadan rulers of Seringapatam, and of the British; and in the wars of these races ninny ancient chiefs have disappeared, and amongst them the Zamorin of history has lost nearly all his ancestors' possessions. These changes and immigrations have introduced many castes and customs peculiar to this region. Amongst the former are Namburi Brahman, Tiruvappaud, Tamban, Koil-Tamburan, Samunthaken, Pundala, Unniathiri, Kurthavu, Nedungadi, Eliathu, Mut'hathu, Adieu!, Chakiar, Nambiar, Oonnee, Psharodi, Pushpaken, Varier, Alat'hi, Nambidi, Thyambadi, Plapulli, Nair, and many others.

Inheritance.—Many of these have adopted the custom of the descensus ab utero, the descent by the female line, which they designate Marumakkat ayam. The Ponan, a branch of the Tir or Ilivar, have not adopted this. Also amongst the Nam buri Brahmans, only the eldest brother marries, the unmarried girls being carefully secluded, and many never marry at all ; but even the Moplah Muhammadans follow this law of inheritance. Along with and dependent on it is the existence of polyandry amongst the Nairs of Malabar, which also in a household form prevails amongst the people of Coorg, as also amongst the Toda of the amongst the Kapilli tribe on the Dindigul valley, amongst the Totti, a Pariah race in Mysore, also amongst the people of the Tibet passes.

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