Malabar Kudiyettam



Migration of farmers from Tavancore to Malabar


The migration of farmers from central Kerala was started in 1920s. It was first initiated by a group of Syrian Christians. Majority of the migrants were small peasant farmers who went to make Malabar their permanent abode. In the beginning it was only an isolated attempt of landless and enterprising few. But gradually households having more land also started settling in Malabar.

By the end of 1920s almost the entire cultivable area in Travancore was brought under cultivation. So the peasants of Travancore had to seek opportunitiesoutside theregion/state. For migration to take place the potential migrants should know about the places where lands are available. Though the people of the two regions - Travancore and Malabar speak the same language, there was practically no administrative, political or economic links between them. Some of the peasant farmers of the interior parts of Travancore got to know from the Mappila labourer's information of the availability of cultivable lands. Some potential migrant farmers took the trouble of visiting Malabar and finding out the actual conditions in Malabar.

The presence of earliest settlers, no doubt, helped the new settlers in understanding the topography of the area and the extend of available lands for cultivation. During the period 1941-1951 the percentage of increase in the total population of Malabar was 21.09%, while the increase of Christian population in the period was 97.69 %. This indicates that the period 1941 - 1951 witnessed the peak period of migration. However the trend continued up to 1971. The total number of Syrian Christian in the region was estimated to be around one lakh in 1960 and around three lakh in 1970.

iritty shrine The process of early migration seem to have followed a common pattern. First an investigatory trip was undertaken by one or two persons. They used to visit the areas where Christian mission stations or churches has already been established by the catholic Diocese of Calicut. When the capital had been raised, they took a second trip, in which land was purchased and then migrated to Malabar along with one or two neighbouring families. The individual farmers from different villages of Travancore started moving to several parts of Malabar from early 1920s onwards. The three midland taluks of Travancore Meenachil, Muvattupuzha and Thodupuzha were the major places which contributed to Malabar migration.

iritty malabar kudiyettam memmorial malabar migration of syrian christians shrine Several of the migrant households had to pay a high cost in the initial period of migration. They felt as if they were alien followed with heavy destruction of crops and lives by wild animals, financial loss and death of young and aged members of the family due to diseases and absence of proper treatment. ' As a result a sufficiently substantial number of families have returned back broken in health and fortunes, to their native homes'.

Empirical studies with the migrant households indicate that the migration of farmers from central Kerala to Malabar region is unique and is distinct from many other regional, national and international migrations. It is a community or group migration wherein a group - a homogenous people along with their close kin migrated together to another region with a sole purpose of ascendance in the status ladder by earning a livelihood through farming. Hence most of them sold away their entire property in the motherland ( with no hope to return ) and settled in clusters in several parts of Malabar. Thus it was a planned, permanent and 'settler migration'. As a result they developed a sound mind to withstand the initial hurdles and constraints that they had to face in the new land.