7 History

Regional Cultures

Learning Goals:

  • Regional cultures
  • Origin of Malayalam
  • Sanskrit connection

The description of people on linguistic basis is extremely common. In other words, people are described on the basis of the language they speak or their mother tongue. When we refer to some person as a Kannada or a Marathi, this usually means that he/she speaks Kannada/Marathi. We also have a tendency to associate each region with distinctive kinds of food, clothing, poetry, dance, music and painting. We also sometimes tend to take these aspects of people as granted and assume that the people are identified with these since time immemorial. However, this may not be true. This is because:

  • The frontiers that separate regions have evolved over time and are still evolving.
  • The cultures of a region are hybrid in nature i.e. they have evolved as a result of intermixing of local traditions with ideas from other parts of the subcontinent.

The regional cultures that exist today have not been exclusively for that region.

  • Some traditions appear specific to some regions
  • Some seem to be similar across regions
  • Some are derived from older practices in a particular area but take a new form in other regions.

New Year in various Indian states: While the people of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana use the term Ugadi and Karnataka use the term Yugadi/Ugadi for their New Year festival, the people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day as Gudi Padwa. Marwari, people of Rajasthan celebrate the same day as their new year day Thapna. Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Manipuris also celebrate their New Year (Sajibu nongma panba) on the same day.

The Cheras and Malayalam

The Premise: The Chera kingdom of Mahodayapuram was established in the south-western part of the peninsula (which is a part of the present-day Kerala) in the 9th century. It is likely that Malayalam was the spoken language in this region. The rulers introduced the language and Malayalam script in their inscriptions. This is an example of the relation between language and region, and also of the use of a regional language in official records in the subcontinent.

The Sanskrit Conncetion

The Cheras also drew upon Sanskritic traditions. The Sanskrit epics form the basis of the temple theatre of Kerala that is traced to this period. The first literary works in Malayalam which are approximately dated to the 12th century are directly indebted to Sanskrit. Lilatilakam, a 14th century text that deals with grammar and poetics was composed in Manipravalam which literally means ‘diamonds and corals’, referring to the two languages- Sanskrit and the regional language.


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Lesson Part 5

Lesson Part 6

Lesson Part 7


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NCERT Solution