The term Ezhavathy is used for traditional Purohit and ayurveda teachers with military traditions. They are aryan(it means 'noble'), a distinct category of Brahmins who combine military knowledge with wise learning and never pretended to do any priestly duties. Ezhavathy are brahmins who were part of the Vedic priesthood and a minority Hindu community in Kerala. They are known by different names in different parts of Kerala. In Malabar, they are called Kavutheeya; in other regions they are known asPurohithan/ Purohit/ Ezhavathy/Ezhavazhthy. In earlier times, these brahmins were known as Vadhyar or Vadhyayar or Purohit or Chatterjee or Pandit or Upadhyaya.
Ezhavathy are traditionally priestly brahmins in temples and also entrusted with poojas during marriages and death ceremony. They are traditionally Vaishnavas, but they worshipped Shiva and Parasakthi. They did yagna in early days in Kerala. They were also experts in ayurvedic and traditional medicine, and treated patients according to the traditional ayurveda. Vazhthy- is the correct usage. The origin of Vazhthy is from Tamilnadu (Old Madras state). Vazhthys are migrated to Kerala as Vaidhyas(Vaid)( belonging to Purohitha- Bhramins of Madras) . After the long war of Chera Raja and Chola Raja (extented up to 400 years, i.e., from generation to generation) they settlled in the Travancore region of Kerala. But the Kerala Bhramins remain reluctent to accept them. Thus they were driven away from Kingdom and Temples of Kerala. But they were unable to go back to Madras. Finally they stayed with Ezhava (the socially boycotted people by Savarna) and got the name as Ezhavathy. Vazhthy continnued the puja Vaidhya virthy and pooja, but few lazy people begins to work as Barbers. But nowadays 90% of Vazhthys are doing only Vaidhya virthy and Poojas. They are also known as Kuruppanmar.
They are actually Vaid of Mohyal. These Mohyal brahmin also include other brahmin like Kanyakubja, Havyak,Audichya, Iyer ,Havyaka,Niyogi,kanyakubja, Vaidiki,Kumaoni,Gaur,Garhvali,Kulin,Sarayuparin ,Deshastha,Bhumihar ,Saryuparin,Iyengar,Bhat,Saraswata etc. A Mohyal is a Brahmin as well as a warrior with knowledge in Vedanta. This paradox runs in every Mohyal family. Their history is an unending saga of sacrifice and gallantry. Some of the counterparts of the Mohyals in different states are: Tyagis, Purohit(Ezhavathy used in Kerala), Bhakth, Vyas, Bhat, Chitpavans, Mishra, Sinha, Bhaduri, Chakravart, Ganguly, Goswami, Maitra, Sanyal, Dass, Iyers etc
Ezhavathy had used surnames like Dixit/Deekshithar/Bhakth ,Bhat/Vadhyar/Pandey/Sastri/Acharya/Vadhyayar/Purohit/Pandit ,Chatterjee,Chakraborty Upadhyaya etc. Now they are known as Ezhavathy /Purohit/ Purohithan/Kavutheeya/Komaram/Kavuthiyya. The word 'Ezhavathy' is derived from Ezhavadhyar(Ezhava+Vadhyar), which means those who tought letters to 'Ezhava' and 'Kavutheeya' means those who entrusted Kavu (forest or temple) to Theeyas for the worship.. They include in Pancha Gauda Brahmins, they actually came from Gauda region.They brought Kali worship and other Sakthiworship in Kerala. They also excelled in classical songs (Hindustani classical music and Karnatic classical music).
Pancha Gauda brahmins
They are priestly brahmins came from Gauda desam(region), so, they included in Pancha gauda brahmins. The Karn?takas, Tailangas, Dravidas, Mah?r?shtrak?s and Gurjaras; these five types who live south of Vindhya mountains are called "five Dravidas" brahmins.
The Sarasvatas, Kanyakubjas, Gaudas, Utkalas, and Maithilas, who live north of Vindhya mountains are known as "five Gaudas" brahmins.
They are hailing from different gothras. The main gothras of Ezhavathy are Kashyap,Atri,Kaushika,Bharadwaj,Dhanvantari,Sandilya,Vasishta,Kapi,Gargya etc
All of them were lived in Ettukettu and nalukettu. Both are the example of the traditional style of architecture of Kerala. 'Ettu' means 'eight' ,'nalu' means four and 'Kettu' means 'built up sides.' Ettukettu is the house with two quadrangles or mansions with eight salas (square or rectangular living rooms with verandahs on one or more sides) around two courtyards. Nalukettu is the house with one quadrangle or mansion with four salas around one courtyards.
The ettukettu and nalukettu is a unique and distinct style of construction. Ettukettu is laid and constructed with rituals and principles according to the Vaastu Vidya. The laws bind everything from selection of site, nature of soil, orientation of buildings, to position of the buildings and rooms. The ettukettu model houses demonstrate excellent craftsmanship in wood, and a good understanding of construction and building material science.
In Kerala, gone are the days, only Namboodiri and these people were allowed to study and use Vedas. Also the Nambudiris,Iyer, Ezhavathy,Iyengar and Pattar were the Hindu communities in Kerala where women were required to wear a veil (Ghosha) in public . Members of the community who did not abide by these regulations faced excommunication (Brashtu). These people mainly did Yagna, thanks to their knowledge in all four Vedas.
They are Priestly brahmins. They were specifically a professional teacher in the technical subjects of Vedanga, i.e. Sanskrit grammar and other basic skills required for the perusal of the Vedas. As their names indicates, they were experts in all four vedas. They are also Chathurvedi so, they were experts in Sanskrit so, they were known as Upadhyaya. Some people of this caste had chosen the job of barber. The reason was when they lost their jobs (yagna,homam, poojas, etc.) and had no income from the poojas and yagnas, then they turned to barber jobs as they had the experience of hair cutting and shaving while a yagna/pooja. We can see it in Atharva veda. In Atharv Veda one yagna/pooja starts with cutting hair and shaving and also a boy's first haircut, known as choula or mundan, is one such samskara and is considered an event of great auspiciousness, in this ceremony, along with cutting and shaving hair, Vedic mantras and prayers are chanted by trained priests, acharyas and rishikumars. These experiences led them to barber jobs. Also in'top knot cutting ceremony', they had the experience of hair cutting. Gradually as the importance of Vedas declined , some of them turned to barber jobs.
They are vegetarians and non-vegetarians, their ancestors in Gauda region (Bengal, Orissa, U.P., etc.) used meat after the Yagna. They are hired to chant Vedic verses at yagyas and other events, both public and private. They do obsequies. In their home still some people eat fishes and meats after offering to deceased fathers.
Photograph of Ramakrishna, taken on 10 December 1881 at the studio of "The Bengal Photographers" in Radhabazar, Calcutta (Kolkata).
Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsan
They are descendants of Bengali brahmins, so, the lord Sree Ramakrishna Paramahamsan is considered as their Guru.
They brought Kali worship in Kerala.
Ezhavathy/Kavuthiya males had to undergone Brahmopadesham ( Upanayanam ) when they turn seven years old. It is a ceremony where young boys are initiated into Vedic studies . The key rituals during the Upanayana is that of putting a Janivaara or sacred thread across the left shoulder of the boy. But, now most of them do not under go Brahmopadesam in this community.
Muudiyettu is performed by these brahmins. Mudiyettu is the story of the war of Bhadrakaali with the two notorious Asuras Daarikan and Daanavendran, eventually killing them, while in Theeyaattu, Bhadrakaali reports to Lord Paramasiva after the assassination and briefs the whole incident. Mudiyettu, compared to other forms of temple arts, is presented without much of `mudras', facemasks and facial expressions, but with facial make-ups and `chutti' (artwork done on face with rice paste) which makes the characters simple and more acceptable to the viewers. Originally these characters used to perform with speech and dance, but later on rhythmic steps were introduced which gives more life to the characters and makes the performance more interesting.
They had used the following surnames like Purohit,Pandit,Upadhyay,Bhakth,Sarma,Chaterjee, Ganguly, Lahiri,Chakraborthy, Sinha, Vaid,Singh etc
They worship cow, so they are called Vadhyar or Vadhyayar.
Some people of this caste had chosen Ayurvedic physicians. The reason was that when they arrived in Kerala, nobody know Ayurvedic treatments well, so they turned to Ayurvedic treatments, thanks to their knowledge in all four Vedas. They had treated patients with the help of vedas ( Rig Veda, Yajur Veda,Sama Veda and Atharva Veda ), emphasizing the traditional ayurveda. So they came to be known as Perumal Vaidyars.
- Muhiyals - The Militant Brahmin Race of India by T.P. Russell Stracey, Lahore 1911
- Mohyal History, by P.N. Bali, 1995- Page 38
- Keralacharithram, by Kumarakom Sankunny Menon
- History of the Mohyals, by P.N. Bali, 1985
- History of the Bengali-speaking People by Nitish Sengupta
External linksSource: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ezhavathy