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Ezhava Caste

Other Spellings / Synonyms : Ezhava caste in Kerala have following names Ezhava, Izhavan, Ishavan, Ezhavan, Ezhuva, Izhuva, Ishuva, Izhuvan, Ishuvan, Ezhuvan, Izhava, Izhavan, Ishavan, Illuva, Illuvan, Irava, Iruva, Billva, Bilava, Bilva, Thiyabillava, Illuvan, Illuvar, Illathar, Idiga, Ediga

Varna : Backward class

Other Surnames / Gotras : In present times, Ezhavas do not normally use any surnames. However, surnames like Panicker, Ashan, Channar, Vaidyar, Thampan etc which were fairly common in the late 19th and early 20th centuries are still sporadically used. In olden days the Ezhavas with exceptional martial skills were conferred the surname "Chekavar" or "Chekoan".

Chief Deity : Ezhava community adheres to the teachings of the saint and social reformer Sri Narayana Guru.

Language : Malayalam

Regional Spread : Malayalam

Traditional Occupation : Although traditionally agriculturists, many Ezhavas were notable as ayurvedic physicians, warriors and traders.

Population : Ezhavas comprises of about 25% - 28% of the total population of the state of Kerala

Food Habits : Mostly non-vegetarian

Marriage Preference : Mostly non-vegetarian
Famous Personalities
Film Directors
  • Spiritual Leaders : Shree Narayana Guru, Nataraja Guru, Swami Bodhananda
  • Political Leaders : VS Achuthanandan (CM of Kerala), R.Sankar (ex-CM of Kerala), S Damodaran (former MLA and Coir Corporation Chairman)
  • Literary Figures : Mahakavi Kumaran Asan, C.V. Kunjuraman Founder of Kerala Kaumudi, Dr V Samabasivan (The Kathaprasangam Supremo)
Actors : Thilakan, Shammi Thilakan, Parur Bharathan, Kalakkal Kumaran, Mukesh, KRVijaya (actress), Harisree Ashokan (Comedian)

Music : Gayathri (playback singer), Raveendran (music director), MK Arjunan (music director), Noted

  • CR Kesavan Vaidyar - founder of Chandrika Soap
  • TR Raghavan, KS Chathunny - founder of Elite Group
  • Gokulam Gopalan - founder of Gokulam Group
  • Dr Sidhan - founder of Medimix, Cuticura.
  • SD Shibulal - one of the founders of Infosys
  • Ajith Balakrishnan -Chairman and founder of
Other Distinguished Ezhavas
  • Kayikkara Govindan Vaidyar – physician, translation of Ashtanga Hridaya (Sanskrit Ayurvedic text) to Malayalam
  • Vainu Bappu - famous astrophysicist
  • Janakiammal - famous botanist.
  • K Sukumaran - founder of Kerala Kaumudi newspaper
History and Origin : The origin of the word Ezhava is often disputed. The most plausible explanation is that it means "people from Ezham (Sri Lanka)". Thiyya seems to have originated from "Dweepan" which means a person living in an island (obvious reference to Sri Lanka). Ezhavas had mastered the art of Kalaripayattu and were the renowned warriors of the middle age.

About Ezhava : Most of the Aroras (or Aror-vanshis) are Hindus or Sikhs and are a Ezhava is the name of the single largest caste based community in the southern Indian state of Kerala. In the northern parts of Kerala, Ezhava caste is also referred to as 'Thiyya'. Until the end of Royal rule, Ezhavas were considered a backward community, because of their position outside the Hindu four-fold caste hierarchy. Shri Narayana Guru, the greatest social reformer that Kerala has seen, was primarily responsible for the uplift of the Ezhava community. Today, members of Ezhava community have made their mark in all walks of life.

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