History & Culture

The Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University preserves the history, heritage and cultural legacy of Kerala

Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University

Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The University in Tirur, Malappuram district, which promotes the cause of Malayalam language

As you walk into the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University in Tirur in Malappuram, the campus, with its green foliage and fragrant pathways, welcomes you warmly. The architecture is clearly reminiscent of the traditional culture and heritage of Kerala.

The Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, established on November 1, 2012, aims at promoting Malayalam language by offering post-graduate programmes in diverse disciplines in Malayalam, apart from research programmes.

I had visited the campus as part of a motivational tour organised for students of the Walk with Scholar programme at the Government College for Women, initiated by the Department of Collegiate Education.

An exhibit at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University

An exhibit at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The Heritage Museum at the university was established under the Museum Project. The museum presents a plethora of objects, pictures and materials that hold the fingerprints of a yesteryear culture. The museum features local history and artefacts. However, university sources say that the present one is only a prelude to a more elaborate museum.

The moment you step across the threshold of the museum, it’s like going back into another age. The antiquity of our heritage, the beginning of Malayalam, the evolution of communities, the depth of the social fabric interwoven with culture and art... all is fascinating for a visitor. The anthropological significance is immense, considering the research value of the collection of artefacts and tools. Some of the tools were used in agriculture, while long ladles and antique spice boxes belong to kitchens of another era.

An exhibit at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University

An exhibit at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The artefacts also throw light on the commerce and industries that thrived along our shores centuries ago and changed the course of our future. It is indeed a surreal feeling to be able to experience our heritage thus and understand the lifestyle of people thriving on agricultural produce and spice trade, the diverse cultures spread across the State, the dialects they spoke and the kind of food they ate.

Evolution of Malayalam

The heritage museum also traces the history of the Malayalam language by giving a detailed evolution of its script. Almost half of the space has been dedicated to the path-breaking revolutions within local histories. One such history that is preserved is that of ‘Vettathu Naadu’. ‘Vettam’, which means light, is interpreted as the light of knowledge. It was thereby known as ‘Prakasabhoomi’ owing to the way knowledge was propagated and shared there. This place has much significance with regard to its topography, being surrounded by water on all borders.

History points out that Vettathu Naadu has been a crucial hub for all sorts of trade and commerce that thrived. Vettam Grama Panchayath (presently in Tirur) was earlier a part of the Kingdom of Tanur. It is inferred that its history dates back to the Chera period, before the arrival of the Portuguese armadas. The rulers of Vettathu Naadu being noted patrons of art and culture, its history is a treasure trove of information. It is said that Vettathu Naadu Raja (1630-1640) is said to have introduced innovative changes in Kathakali, which later came to be known as the ‘Veṭṭathu tradition.’

Exhibits at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University

Exhibits at the Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The museum also showcases the life history and contributions of icons such as Vallathol Narayana Menon, Veluthattu Narayana Namboothiri, Melpathoor Narayana Bhattathiri, Thrikkandiyoor Achyutha Pisharadi, Thunchathezhuthachan and Sayyid Sanaullah Makti Thangal who brought about significant changes in society and culture through their contributions to art, music, literature, education and so on.

(The author is an Assistant Professor, Department of Music, Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram)

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 3:20:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-thunchath-ezhuthachan-malayalam-university-preserves-the-history-heritage-and-cultural-legacy-of-kerala/article31040330.ece

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