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Kerala is first mentioned (as Keralaputra) in a 3rd-century-BC rock inscription left by the Mauryan emperor Asoka the Great.[1] According to the first century annals of Pliny the Elder and the author of Periplus of the Erythraean sea,Tarsish and Muziris in Kerala could be reached in 14 days' time from the Red sea ports in Egyptian coast purely depending on the South West Monsoon winds. The Sangam works Puranaooru and Akananooru have many lines which speak of the Roman vessels and the Roman gold that used to come to the Kerala ports of the great Aryan kings in search of pepper and other spices, which had enormous demand in the West.

Contents

Background

Since at least the first millennium BC, pepper was regarded as an ultimate luxury, inessential to survival yet highly desired for ritual, medicinal and culinary purposes. The origins of this desire stretch back to ancient Egypt, with the great pharaoh Ramses II being the first known consumer, albeit posthumously: peppercorns were found in the nostrils of his mummified corpse. In ancient Greece, pepper was used medicinally and the Chinese have used it in their cooking since at least the fourth century. The Romans' conquest of Egypt gave them regular access to pepper, and it became a symbol of luxurious cookery. It was traded ounce for ounce with precious metals: When Rome was besieged in the fifth century, the city allegedly paid its ransom in peppercorns, and the spice remained an accepted form of "currency" throughout the Middle Ages. Mediterranean merchants seeking Indian and Chinese goods had been forced to seek their spices and silk through Arab and Persian middlemen at Kerala ports who monopolized the Arabian sea trade. Rome-India Sea Route rivaled Silk Road.Nautical archaeologists in Quseir will be working in partnership with the archaeology department at Southampton University. Prof David Peacock, a Roman archaeologist there, is leading the onshore excavation efforts at Quseir where he has found traces of Roman and Greek occupation in the form of huge clay pots once filled with wine and olive oil

Spices, gems and other exotic cargo excavated from an ancient port on Egypt's Red Sea show that the sea trade 3,000 years ago between the Roman Empire and Kerala shores was more extensive than previously thought and even rivaled the legendary Silk Road, archaeologists say. "We talk today about globalism as if it were the latest thing, but trade was going on in antiquity at a scale and scope that is truly impressive," the co-director of the dig, Willeke Wendrich of the University of California at Los Angeles. Wend rich and Steven Sidebotham of the University of Delaware report their findings in the issue of the journal Sahara. Historians have long known that Egypt and India (Keralaputra) traded sea during the Roman era, in part because of texts detailing the commercial exchange of luxury goods, including fabrics, spices and wine. Now, archaeologists who have spent the last nine years excavating the town of Berenike say they have recovered artifacts that are the best physical evidence yet of the extent of sea trade between the Roman Empire and India. Among their finds at the Egypt's Red Sea Ports of Bernice & Quseir included more than 16 pounds (7 kilograms) of black peppercorns, the largest stash of the prized Indian spice ever recovered from a Roman archaeological site. Bernice lies at what was the southeastern extreme of the Roman Empire and probably functioned as a transfer port for goods shipped through the Red Sea. Trade activity at the port peaked twice, in the first millennium BC century and again around 500, before it ceased altogether, possibly after a plague or some other adverse conditions for Trade in Kerala where pepper and other prized spices were sourced. Ships would sail between Muzris and Tarshish ( korke-ni-kollam ) in Kerala and Berenice in the Red sea ports during the summer, when monsoon winds were strongest. From Berenice, camel caravans probably carried the goods 240 miles (386 kilometers) west to the Nile, where they were shipped by boat to the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. From there, they could have moved by ship through the rest of the Roman world.

Malayalam calendar (also known as Malayalam Era or Kollavarsham) is a solar Sidereal calendar used in the state of Kerala in South India. The origin of Kollam Era has been dated as 825 A.D. when the great convention in Kollam was held at the behest of King Kulashekhara. Kollam was an important town in that period, and Malayalam Era is called 'Kolla Varsham' possibly as a result of the Tarish-a-palli sassnam. It also signified the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244). King Kulashekhara granted the copper plate grants in 825 A.D. to Mar S(abo)r Iso whom he invited to Kollam from Assyria (present Persia & Syria with Constantinople as the spiritual seat (the Byzantine/Eastern Roman Empire), and transferring to the Tarasa Church and Vaishnavite Nambuthiri community at Devalokakara (Thevalakara-(Tarsish) in Quilon, lands near the city with hereditament of low caste. (Reference Travancore Manual page 244). It is believed that this conference was called by King Kulshekara to get a clarity on the theology of Divinity of the Trinity. It finally resulted in a major split in the Aryan Nambuthiri community and the consecration of Thevalakara orthodox church with Syrian liturgy by Mar Abo. This followed a debate between Nambuthiris who believed in the St. Thomas tradition of Vaishnavism (Christ as the putra and the only object of sacrifice) but continued in their vedic tradition including Sun Worship, and those who backed Adi Shankara and his Advaita Vedanta in early 9th century (that Christ (isha) and Shiva are one and the difference is only caused between Aramic and Pali language). However it should be particularly noted that Kolla varsham resulted in the origin of Christianity in Kerala as an individual religion outside vedic Vaishnavism as till that time only four vedic Aryan namboothiri families (namely Kaliankal at Nilakal with a branch family at Devalokakara -- near the ancient Koreni-Kollam port -- Paklomattam at Palyoor, Shankarapuri at Niranam and Kalli at Kokkamangalam) were allowed priesthood inside Christianity. The months are named after the constellations of the zodiac. Thus Chingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar

The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Azhcha, similar to 'day' in English names for the days of the week.

Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswathi (Ashvini in Sanskrit) and ending in Revati. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Njattuvela, each one bearing the name of a star

The Malayalam Calendar is part of the Aryanised version of the older Tamil calendar which was in usage till then. Like the Tamil calendar and Hindu calendar, the Quilon Era adopted the Solar Month. But unlike all other Indian Calendars, months were named after the signs of Zodiac. Sun signs from Tamil Zodiac are Mesham, Rishabam, Midhunam, Kadakam, Simmam, Kanni, Thulam, Vruchikam, Dhanusu, Maharam, Kumbham, and Meenam which closely resemble the Malayalam months. [1]

Still many Nambudiri Brahmins claim that they had some role in founding the Malayalam Era. Many Brahmins had migrated to Kerala from Udupi in Tulunadu after 800 AD to serve as priests. But there is nothing to suggest Nambudiri Brahmins had any authority in the administration of ruled by Ay or Aryan kings or this migration of Tamil and Tulu Brahmins was caused due to a direct result of a large scale division among the vast majority Aryan namubuthiri vaishnavites who followed the St. Thomas tradition from the First century after Christ and those who joined the shiviate revival faith in the ninth century following the Adi shankara's Adiveda Vedanta.

According to this there are 4 yugas or eons- Dwapara Yuga, Treta Yuga, Satya Yuga and the Kali Yuga. After the Kali Yuga, all of creation would be annihilated and new Srishti (creation) would be brought into existence again, thus heralding Satya Yuga. But in honor of the Seer Shankaracharya, a new calendar was adopted in Kerala called the Kollavarsham or the Malayalam Calendar. The Malayalam Era (ME) commenced in 825 AD. 825 AD denotes the year Saint Shankaracharya attained Samadhi (freedom from his worldly body). This date is ascertained with reference to Kali Dina Samkhya "Aachaarya Vaagbhadaa" as mentioned by "Paralpperu" or Katapayadi Large scale division among the Nambuthiri community in the background of a shivate revival with a vast majority joining the orthodox church founded in Syrian litergy by Mar Abo inside the St. Thomas Tradition of vaishnavism they embraced in the first century AD itself. The date also receives importance for the arrival of Mar Abo From Asyria through the Red sea route. The conference on the doctrine of Trinity was convened by Kollam King Kuleshakara on the backdrop of Adaveda vedanta, a Pentecostal theology focusing shiva or the holy spirit put forward by Adi Shankara with the veneration of putra(vaishnavism) in the St. Thomas Tradition discounted leading to a major division inside the vedic aryan nambuthiri community with the majority among them joining the orthodox church founded by Mar Abo with Syrian Liturgy. However later vaishnavism was respected(Deshavatharam or one puthra of Brahma to be virgin born in every yuga for Human salvation) and included in the shivite revival faith stream as the case of guruvayur, a 9th century shivite place of worship founded by the nambuthiri community of palayur who followed Adi shankara where Krishna idol was installed in the 12th century.

Mar Abo (780 AD-865AD) was received by kollam king kulshekara Ayyandadikal Thiruvadikal at kore-ni-kollam (Kurekkeni Kollam). kore-ke-ni- (sea pointed inland or a creek) kollam port which was inside the present neendakara Basin of the Arabian sea in Ashtamudi lake and was famed as (Tarshish) and was considered one of the leading ports in Asia till the ninth century AD. The Apostle (St. Thomas )founded one of his "seven and a half churches" in Kollam (Tarsish). They were family or community churches like the one in corinth (constantinopolis) and was immersed in vedic hinduism as neither Holy Bible was codified nor cross was acknowledged as the symbol of Christian faith in the first century AD. The church founded by the Apostle at the ancient kollam port of Tarsish (thevalakara) was re-constructed three times. The second reorganising of the Tarsish Christian nambuthiri community which was still inside vedic vaishnavism was in the 4th century when a Persian cross brought from a Red sea port was erected in accordance with the Nicaea sunnahodose the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, meeting in ancient Nicaea (now İznik, Tur.). It was called by the emperor Constantine I, an unbaptized catechumen, or neophyte, who presided over the opening session and took part in the discussions declaration making the cross the symbol of Christian faith the World over for the first time.


Mar Sabor(Mar Sabir Easo) or Mar Abo as he was fondly called came from Middle East on invitation of Kollam King kuleshakara as an Authority for the Doctrine of Trinity focusing the Putra on the Background of a Pentecostal shivate Revival(focusing only the Holy spirit) of Advaida vedanta propounded by Adi shankara and were also instrumental in developing Christian faith as an independent Religion outside vedic vaishnavism. The start of the Malayalam era(ME) is associated with [kore-kini[Kollam]].[1][2] It is believed that the era was started by the arrival of these Asyriac Monks who settled in KorukeNi kollam ( Tarsish), near to the present Kollam.[3] The ME is also referred as Kollavarsham. Le Quien says that “these bishops were Chaldaeans and had come to Quilon soon after its foundation. They were men illustrious for their sanctity, and their memory was held sacred in the Malabar Church as St. Thomas tradition of Christanity was more vedic than thora or old testament and were called only as vaishnavites for their belief in putra. They constructed many churches in all places of Christian Faith which was then a part of Vedic Vaishnavism (Brahma, putra& Shiva) as Christ then was revered only as putra (the virgin Born begotten son of Brahma and the only object of sacrifice) and, during their lifetime, the Christianity as a religion flourished especially in the kingdom of Diamper.”

Mar Abo"s disciple kadamattathu Achan (Branched from the paklomattam namboothiri community of palayur) founded more than hundred devi temples. Mar abo, who is taking his eternal rest in Thevalakara marthamariam church located at Kollam is Mar S(abo)r. This St. Thomas Traditional church was vedic in nature and was nothing more than the St. Thomas version of vaishnavism acknowledged by the Aryan communities in kerala in the First century AD itself, was renewed in Truth & spirit in 4th century and was built by Mar Sabor with orthodox canon,Syrian Litergy and Rite after receiving the Tarissapali chepadukal Tarsish-a-palli plates (the earliest Historically available official sanction to built a place of worship in Kerala). Eye Medicine and witch craft were also two big contributions of Mar Abo to Kerala society. The fact remains that the largest proportion of texts recovered are from Assyria, especially from the shattered remains of Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh, but also from the old Assyrian capital at Assur, principally excavated by German expeditions in the twentieth century. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that the written medical traditions continued in Babylonia after the fall of Assyria as is evidenced particularly by finds in the far southern city of Uruk and in tablets from the Babylon-Sippar area now in the British Museum (many unpublished).

Months

The months are named after the constellations of the zodiac. Thus Chingam (from Simham or Lion) is named after the constellation Leo and so on. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:

Comparative table showing corresponding months of other calendars
Months in Malayalam Era In Malayalam Gregorian Calendar Tamil calendar Saka era
Chingam ചിങ്ങം August- September Aavani-Purattasi Sravan- Bhadrapada
Kanni കന്നി September-October Purattasi-Aippasi Bhadrapada - Asvina
Thulam തുലാം October-November Aippasi - Karthigai Asvina - Kartika
Vrishchikam വൃശ്ചികം November-December Karthigai - Margazhi Kartika - Agrahayana
Dhanu ധനു December-January Margazhi - Thai Agrahayana - Pausa
Makaram മകരം January-February Thai - Maasi Pausa - Magha
Kumbham കുംഭം February-March Maasi - Panguni Magha - Phalguna
Meenam മീനം March-April Panguni - Chithtrai Phalguna - Chaitra
Medam മേടം April-May Chithtrai - Vaikasi Chaitra - Vaisakha
Edavam ഇടവം May-June Vaikasi- Aani Vaisakha - Jyaistha
Midhunam മിഥുനം June-July Aani - Aadi Jyaistha - Asada
Karkadakam കര്‍ക്കടകം July-August Aadi - Aavani Asada - Sravana

Days

The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Azhcha (ആഴ്ച - week).

Comparative table showing corresponding weekdays
Malayalam/Tamil Name മലയാളം English
njayar ഞായര്‍ Sunday
thinkal തിങ്കള്‍ Monday
chouwa ചൊവ്വ Tuesday
budhan ബുധന്‍ Wednesday
vyazham വ്യാഴം Thursday
velli വെള്ളി Friday
shani ശനി Saturday

Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswathi (Ashvinī in Sanskrit) and ending in Revatī. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Njattuvela, each one bearing the name of a star.

Significant dates

The festivals Antupirapp (ആണ്ടുപിറപ്പ് - new year, more commonly called Antupiravi (ആണ്ടുപിറവി) or puthuvarsham (പുതുവര്‍ഷം)), celebrated on the 1st of Chingam, Vishu (വിഷു - astronomical new year), celebrated on the 1st of Medam and Onam (ഓണം), celebrated on the star [tiruʋoːɳəm] in the month of Chingam, are three of the major festivals, the greatest of them being Onam (ഓണം).

The Makaravilakku festival is celebrated in the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on the 1st day of month Makaram. This marks the grand finale of the two-month period to the Sabarimala pilgrimage.

Derived names

Many events in Kerala are related to the dates in the Malayalam calendar.

The agricultural activities of Kerala are centred around the seasons. The Southwest monsoon which starts around June 1 is known as Edavappathi, meaning mid-Edavam. The North east monsoon which starts during mid October is called thulavarsham (rain in the month of thulam). The two harvests of paddy are called Kannikkoythu and Makarakkoythu (harvests in the months kanni and makaram) respectively.

Notes

  1. ^ "Kerala." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 8 June 2008

See also

External links

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