Somewhere in the late 2008, a friend (as a part of a research ‘Language of Thought in Multilinguists’) had asked me “In what language do you think?”
My mother tongue is Malayalam, done all my education in English, trained to read and write Arabic, acquainted to Bengali and Assamese (East Indian languages), am more comfortable in Hindi (India’s national language) and due to my (then) environment was exposed to Kannada and Tamil (South Indian languages). So my task was then to be consciousness of my thoughts and track the language of my thought. After days and (several) tasks- I found that my language of thought was Malayalam (with tee wee bits of English and Hindi interfering in!)
I am a proud Malayali ( referred to people from Kerala), be it for the language (kind of tongue twisting- just that it being different from the other South Indian languages gives it a distinct flavor); the culture ( one of the few in India that places woman at the ‘helm’ of the society) ; beautiful architecture (the nalukettu- a quadrangular building and temple styles); arts and music ( kathakali, mohiniaattam, theyyam, margham kalli, vallam kali); festivals ( Kerala celebrates two festivals with great grandeur- Vishu and Onam. Both are secular festivals and celebrated by all); cuisine (the smell and taste of coconut is simply woooow!!!); and just realised that I can go on.
This blog post has been on my mind for very long and today being November 1 is the best day to celebrate the Malayali in me. November 1 marks the birth of the south Indian state- “Kerala”, and is known as the Kerala Piravi Dinam (simply put Kerala’s birthday). Kerala, the southernmost state of India was established on this date in 1956; prior to which it was independent provinces of Malabar, Cochin and Travancore.
So for me and all my malayali compatriots (who feel like me) – I list down a few reasons as to why I enjoy being a Malayali:
- I love the black, thick lustrous hair we malayali girls are blessed with. Somebody once recognized me as a malayali with my hair.
- Malayalis have amazing unity (especially outside Kerala; they probably don’t need that within the state). Countless times I have been helped and had my way through because of the generous ‘chetans’ and ‘chechis’ (in UAE!!!)
- Kerala is our World and the World is Kerala. Wherever we malayalis are; there will be a Kerala Samajam and/or Malayali Association celebrating Onam and Vishu with the traditional feast fare served in banana leaves.
- Most malayalis (referring to those who live outside the state) will have a set of mundu (the men) or veshti mundu (the woman).
- We (or maybe just me) speak high of poets and their poetry that half of Kerala don’t understand.
- We are proud of our language- after all it has 51 alphabets.
- We have the highest literacy rate in India- 90.2%
- Half of Kerala must have not travelled around the world- but we can get into an intellectual conservation on world politics- we are well read! We might be ignorant of what is happening in our back yards but we know who is visiting the White House!
- Mention “naadu” (native) and a malayali (90 % will) pictures a coconut tree (we love coconuts and coconut trees)
- Religion is secondary- being is malayali is primary!
I have come across people advocating “We are all Indians” and must promote nationalist feelings rather than regional ones. I agree on that and I am proud being an Indian; but I celebrate the fact that I am an Indian because I am a Malayali!