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Book Review: Lankaparvam (Malayalam) - varnamvarnam
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Book Review: Lankaparvam (Malayalam)

Lankaparvam by T. Damu, DC Books, 50 pages.

Recently the Malayalam book Lankaparvam was in the news for making the claim that Thiyyas were from Kyrgyzstan. Fascinated by this fact, I managed to get this book which is about the history of Sri Lanka.

The author of the book is T. Damu, who has published many novels, short stories and articles under the pen name T. D. Vadakkumbad. He has also worked as newspaper reporter and associate editor for various newspapers in India. Currently he is an officer in a big unnamed company, and it was on a business trip that he reached Sri Lanka.

The book consists of a total of 48 pages of which seven are color photographs, and can be finished within the commercial break time of That 70s Show. As the author starts on his flight from Thiruvanathapuram, he is reminded of the Hanuman’s flight to the prosperous Lanka of Ravana and this Ramayana theme runs throughout the book as the author travels to places like Seetha Eliya, which has the only temple dedicated to Seetha.

The book also talks about the origin of the SriLankan people from a princess in Bengal, moves to the arrival of Buddhism, talks about the origin of Nairs and Ezhavas, and skips directly to the LTTE, all within about thirty pages. Even though the chapters seem to suggest historical progression, most of the contents are mythological stories. The author takes them seriously and presents them as facts even without expressing a bit of doubt.

So when he suggests that in a place called Nuvara Eliya, the soil is black in color because Ravanas palace was burned down by Hanuman here or that the presence of Asoka trees in some area suggests that Seetha was held by Ravana there, you know these are without any basis. Such stories are prevalent all around India too and you have to accept them for what they are — legends.

The author says that Thiyyas are different from Ezhavas and for this he cites two stories. The first one says that that Lord Siva saw seven women taking a bath in a river and decided to get them. For this he made the place cold and convertedhimself to fire and when the women came to warm themselves near the fire, he gotall of them. The children born of that relationship are called Thiyyas since they were born from Thee (fire in Malayalam). The second story says that Lord Shiva wanted to booze and for getting someone to climb the coconut tree to get toddy, he created Thiyyas.

Once these, Intelligent Design, equivalent theories have been presented, the author kicks it up a notch and suggests that some people migrated from Kyrgyzstan in 7000 B.C to India. Since they were from Thiyyan mountain area (Tien Shan), they were called Thiyyas. According to him an ancient book from Finland called the Edda has a mention of Thiyyas, so it could be that Thiyyas were from Finland also.

This book does not provide a single reference for this theory or any research which confirms this theory. There is a Salem in Massachussets and does not mean that people living there are from Salem, Tamil Nadu. If you look at the world map, you can spot places and races many such similarities, but similarity in names is not sufficient to prove such migration theories. Who knows what Thiyya in Finnish means?

All these doubts did not prevent The Hindu from writing this, “The predominant Thiyya community of Malabar migrated to Kerala in 7000 BC from Kyrgyzstan in the erstwhile Soviet Union, says a fresh study revealing their disputed origins”.After reading the book, I found there was no study mentioned. It was just a casual statement in the middle of a bunch of mythologies.

For all you know, Thiyyas might be from Kyrgyzstan. But unfortunately the context in which this information is presented and the lack of any reference makes me a skeptic.


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