Search of familial roots on the rise, says KCHR

Sangeeth Kurian

The practice of writing family history cuts across communities There are people who even ghost writes family history

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The growing urge among families to search for their familial roots have popularised the practice of writing family histories according to the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR).

"At present, there is an increasing urge especially among people settled outside the country to search for their ancestral roots," said P.J. Cherian, director, KCHR. "They often request their relatives living in the country to take up the task," he said.

Initially, a tradition with the Syrian Christians, the practice of writing family history today cuts across communities with Namboodiri's, Nairs, Muslims and Ezhavas coming up with their own "version of family histories.

In fact, the custom is becoming so popular that there are people who even ghost writes family history.

"This trend is spreading fast among the families residing in Central Travancore. It might not be long when it assumes the proportion of an industry like that of Europe," said Mr. Cherian.

Growing trend

According to him the growing trend of compiling family histories can be attributed to the times we live in. "The pace of our life is quite fast and the changes that take place, quite phenomenal."

Though a majority of those who embark on the task are not trained, there are people who pursue their mission with academic zeal and rigour with some taking up to 10 years to compile the history. "People often come to us for advice and ideas on how to go about the task," said Mr. Cherian.

Cultural potential

The council, which encourages the practice, have already 200 family histories in its achieves, some of them dating back to the early 1940s. "Most of the accounts will be a glorified version of the achievements by individual family members. But even in between such puffed up accounts, we will be able to find out traces of history. It gives us a good idea of the social history of the State," he said.

"Select aspects of the past such as the customs and traditions followed by the family members and the role played by women in family during those days. There will also be traces of local history and geography in the accounts," said Mr. Cherian, explaining the reason for collecting family histories by the council.

The KCHR is an autonomous research centre of the University of Kerala. Through its myriad activities, the council explores the cultural potential of the discipline and attempts to enrich the historical consciousness of society.

The council also has a well equipped library with a large collection of books on Kerala history and society.

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