Thiyyas of north Malabar are the influential Hindu community of immense prominence. All the other Hindu Easters put together will not reach any where near then in numerical strength . lf of bodied ,they are handsome , intelligent ,strong witted and straight forward .their women also are unpowered with all these qualities .Highly educated and advanced in every walk of life they have achieved commendable progress in almost all spheres of social life. Emotionally they are highly strong and react sharply to injustice and goodness. Even the British rulers were convinced of their impartiality and dedication of duty. Prominent Thiyyas were deported by local rulers jury to try petty and recommend punishment or exoneration. When Malabar was part of Madras province .Thiyyas were considered a forward caste next to Nairs. The community gave birth to a great number of distinguished men and women into a great number of distinguished man and women in the field of literature, art culture, Ayurveda intoxication treatment, statesmanship administration, martial art education , sports and science. Ayurveda physicians and Sanskrit scholars belonging to the community were held in high esteem by all segments of society .almost all ciens artists of western years hailing from Thallasery and Kannur belonged Thiyyar families.
The first thesis on Thiyyar was written by Sree Potheri Kunjambhu Vakeel, a well known advocate of Kannur in 1904. He was the author of a novel “Saraswathee Vijayam “ which is not available in the market now.another book fairly descriptive ,was written by Sree Kambilananthan master in 1932 . Reprinted copies can be obtained but as said that the publishers have instilled some of their own ideas . contrary to the authors views . according to him the ancestors of Thiyyar came from Crete island of Mediterranean region. A volcanic eruption ,followed by the earth quake and flood re suited in invadation of the island in 15 th century B.C. Its people ,excellent sailors and navigators,escaped to Asia and navigated to several places in south and south eastern parts.some of them reached south canava , Malabar ,Coorg and Nilgiri . another group reached Bali and Thalnithi islands, even today their agricultural tools and house hold implements are similar to the tools used by Thiyyars . Their style of house construction also is exactly similar to that of Thiyyars of Malabar.
A book in English titled “influence of caste to Kerala written by sree A.M.Ananthan indicate the theory propounded by Ananthan master. He says that the invadation of island took place in B.C 1470-1450 period
Sree T.Damen, the author of ” Lanka Paruam “is of the view point that the ancestors of Thiyyars came from Kirghistan People who lived in the north of black sea migrated to sub Mediterranean countries natives of western side of the sea next to western Europe ,southern eastern areas and came to India and Nepal.
There is another myth about he Thiyyas was ,the great king Alexander came to India with a 45000 strong army. He was almost defeated ,over 30000 of them met with death .nearly a thousand of them ran off to south. They are said to be the fore fathers of Thiyyas
Crete-minovam ladies was an upper government exposing top half of their breasts . at the lower end the flaps of the government have tied in a knot .the same government was worn by the Thiyyar women .and it is known as “Rouka”.All the Hindu women , except Thiyyas wore no upper garments.Thy covered their upper body with a “randam mundu” while going out Thiyyar woman wore “Rouka”at home and outside alike. Ezhava ladies were not permitted to wear upper garments in Travancore and they had to pay tax to the state .
Of late an irrelevant theory has been propounded by some in tensed individuals found Thiyyas and Ezhava are the same caste. It is totally untrue. Ancestors of Thiyyans belonged to Crete island forefathers of Ezhavas hailed from Ceylon( Srilanka) . Their physical features are not identical..Thiyyar women of Malabar have a fair complexional are very beautiful and sweet voiced. Of course centuries might have brought some changes
Those who study the caste identity and social status of Thiyyars and ezhavas must take cognizance of the following facts and conditions.
1) ancestor of Thiyyas and Ezhavas is separate .
2)Thiyyas were followers of matriarchy until laws are flexible ,Ezhavas followed patriarchy
3)Thiyyars don't accept nor give dowry .In fact till recently they were paying a nominal amount to the girls recently they were paying a nominal amount to the girls maternal mole. Ezhavas give and accept dowry . actually Ezhavas give and accept dowry..actually dowry is their main topic of negotiation
4)Theeyars are having eight “Illams”(gotram). Marriage between a boy and girl of the same Illam is frobidden ,Ezhavars do not have such Illams
5) Theeyars were a forward caste before state re organization only after formation of Kerala state they are regarded as the backward caste
6)Risk and rituals are dissimilar on death ,birth and marriage etc .
7)Ezhavars worshiped ghosts and evil powers .Theyyam worship gods in Vaishnava/Saiva/Saktheya systems.They Worshiped ancestors too .”Theyyams and Kavus”are under their control
8)Thiyyas and Ezhavas does not have the same house construction style.
9)Thiyyas have Mediterranean body structure .Ezhavas have Srilankan physique.
10)Thiyyar women have right in ancestral properties they get preferential consideration .Ezhava girls are said to have no such rights .
11)Although Thiyyars and ezhavas are not “caste Hindus “their social status was different .Thiyyars were much progressed community . when Sri Narayan Guru came to Kannur he said”we have nothing to do here you are well advanced”.
12)District judges,high officials,land lords ,doctors,engineers and estate owners were many in Thiyyar community.during those days there was not even a single poem in govt service in Travancore.