A person’s identity is defined in various ways and is often linked to the State they belong to. A Tamilian is usually considered to be studious, a Bengali is supposed to be artistic, a Gujarati is business-minded and so on. So how are Malayalis defined? Let us look at the commonly used notions that a Malayali is tagged with and check their validity.
Coconut for life
Coconut in food, coconut oil in the hair, alcohol from coconut, coconut broken in temples. Yes, brothers and sisters, Malayalis love this round, brown, furry fruit (fun fact: Coconut is a fruit). And well, the name Kerala itself is derived from coconut: Kera (Coconut) + Alam (Land) = Keralam (Land of coconuts).
So if you are a Malayali, you ought to love the Bounty that your Gulf uncle gifted lovingly. And if you are a non-Malayali, the next time your friend goes to Kerala, ask them to bring some banana chips made in coconut oil. You will not regret it!
Non-veg is love
Being from Kerala is synonymous with being a non-vegetarian. Well, who can say “No” to karimeen pollichathu, nadan kozhi curry and that beef varattiyathu – foodgasm indeed, isn’t it? Being a coastal state, and having a population following different religions, has definitely made Kerala a haven for non-veg lovers.
But one little known fact about Kerala is that we have some of the most unique and tastiest vegetarian dishes too. Try puttu kadala, aviyal, pazham pori, unniyappam, ada pradhaman. Yes, we cater to the taste buds of both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. So do not put your Kerala travel plans on hold just because of Malayali food habits.
And the next time when you meet a vegetarian Malayali, please do not be shocked, they do exist!
Beverage = Alcohol
While the word “Beverage” implies all forms of drinks other than water. In Kerala, “Beverage” is synonymous with alcohol. Since the liquor trade in Kerala is completely controlled by the state government, there is a limited number of alcohol outlets.
Couple this factor with high population density, and it leads to overcrowding and long queues in front of the above-mentioned outlets. This is such a unique and peculiar sight that it leads many non-Malayalis to think that Kerala is a state filled with alcoholics.
That said, when in Kerala do try our special alcohol from coconut – Toddy!
Gold, Gold everywhere
Malayalis love the colour yellow, especially the yellow metal. Whether it is for investment, marriage or as gifts, gold takes predominance. Gold is so highly valued for establishing social status and standing in society, that people even borrow money to buy gold, especially for marriages.
Wondering how this obsession with Gold started? Over 5000 years ago, Kerala was a global hub for trading pepper and other spices. During that period, spices were so valuable and costly that it was being traded for gold. And this set in motion the never-ending love for gold in Kerala.
Would you be surprised to know that the richest temple in the world is the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala? The estimated worth of this temple is close to ₹100,000 crores, thanks to the gold stashed in its vaults.
NRI = Gulf uncles and aunties
Kerala has maintained a good relationship with the Gulf countries due to trading ties that were established since time immemorial. When oil was discovered in the isolated deserts of these Arab countries and there was a need for skilled labourers, Keralites pounced on the opportunity. And hence started the migration of Malayalis to Gulf regions. The close-knit and networking culture of Malayalis further led to more Keralites moving to Gulf.
So if you are a Malayali, it is rare to not have at least one uncle or aunty in the Gulf.
Also Read: The (Strange) Circle of (Malayali) Life
Her long curly hair and his thick moustache
Malayali women are well known for their long, thick, black curls. This idea is so ingrained that if a Keralite is accidentally born with straight hair, they are bound to hear, “Straightened mudi ano?” (Have you straightened your hair?). And if a Malayali man does not maintain the signature thick, dark moustache, then his masculinity is considered to be at risk.
Also Read: Ways In Which Patriarchy Affects Men
While some of these notions are true to a great extent, none of these can be generalised. Even if one cannot associate with any of these, it does not make one any less of a Malayali. So keep adding to this list and tell us other commonly heard notions about Malayalis in the comments.