November 1, 2016

What is Kerala Piravi & Facts about Kerala

What is Kerala Piravi? 
Kerala Piravi (Kerala Day) is the birthday of the state of Kerala is Southwestern India. 

When was the birthdate of Kerala? 
November 1, 1956. As of 2016, Kerala turns 60! (Note: India’s Independence Day/Date is August 15, 1947.) 

How do we wish someone on this day? 

In Malayalam: Ellarkum ende sneham nirannya Kerala Peeravi ashamsakal.
This translates into English as: Heartfelt Kelara Piravi wishes to everyone.
Another Malayalam wish: Ente hridayam niranja kerala piravi ashamsakal 
An abbreviated wish: Kerala Piravi ashamsakal. Or, Happy Kerala Piravi. 

I have tried to twist my own tongue to wish you on this special day in Malayalam. Please forgive my horrible accent and the fact that I am pretty much reading off of a paper. Yes, I practiced, and yes, my clients helped me to draft this message (though they say I got it about 50% right with the limited Malayalam I initially drafted in it!) 

See the end of the post for the Malayalam and English translations.


How do people celebrate Kerala’s birthday? 

It is a working day. People may dress up in traditional Kerala dress, like the Kerala sari or settu mundu for women, and dhoti and shirt for men. See pictures of Kerala outfits and other Kerala national symbols below.

Jennifer (far right) dressed in settu mundu to dance the Onam folk dance of Kerala, thiruvathira. See video here.
Jennifer wearing the one piece, Kerala sari, far right for Onam celebrations at work
What is the difference between the settu mundu, sari, and dhoti?
  • The Kerala sari is a one piece, six yard white fabric with gold borders.
  • A settu mundu is a two piece white sari with gold or colored, one piece is wrapped around the waist, while the other is wrapped over the shoulder and around the waist. If you see a woman wearing a sari with a gold or colored stripe in the front, it’s probably a settu mundu and not a sari (as in the pic to the right).
  • A dhoti is a white piece a fabric with a thin colored or gold border men wear around the waist.

Schools may be the major setting for celebrating Kerala Piravi. Schools tend to celebrate the linguistic heritage of Kerala through Malayala bhaashaa vaaram- Or Malayalam language competitions. These cultural programs include literary competitions, recitations, elocution contests, reading competitions , debates, quizzes, and skits.

One of the most interesting Malayalam games I have witnessed was played among adults. Adults were asked to introduce themselves, saying their name, where they grew up, the school and college they went to, as well as a few elements of their current life. The focus was to say the entire introduction in Malayalam, not using even one English word. Out of 10 people, all failed, because everyone said, “school.”

Is Kerala Day celebrated outside of Kerala or India?

Yes, it is commemorated or celebrated by Malayalees (people from Kerala) who live in other states of India as well as in other countries of the world. Especially in the Middle East (Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, etc.) where a large concentration of Keralites live, International and Indian schools will celebrate or commemorate this day.

What are symbols of Kerala:
(Click on the photo for a bigger size.)


Kerala state bird: the great hornbill

Kerala state symbol/emblem/seal


Kerala state fish:
green chomide / pearl spot / karimeen കരിമീൻ

Kerala state fish as a meal - Karimeen pollichattu

Kerala state flower: Kannikonna
Falling on the ground after Vishu


Learn about Vishu here.

Kerala state flower: Kannikonna
On a Vishu kanni (Vishu greetings
for good luck), with the famous
vallkannadi (special mirror)

Kerala state tree: coconut
Here the coconut flower, pookkala is used
in the para (vessel) for Onam decor.
Kerala state animal: elephant

Fun fact: The state of Karnataka, which borders Kerala to the north also shares it’s foundation birth and birthday with Kerala. Karnataka Rajyotsava or Karnataka Formation Day was also on November 1, 1956.


Kerala Piravi wishes in Malayalam and English;
Ellarkum Namaskaram. Ende peru Jennifer. Enda naadu Rochester New York annu.. Korcha korcha malayalam ariyum.. njan nalla Malayalam para illa. Kerala innikki othiri istham annu. Innikki Inji puliyum pullisheeriyum biangra istham annu. Ellarkum ende sneham nirannya Kerala Peeravi ashamsakal.

Hello everyone, I am Jennifer Kumar. I am from Rochester New York, near to Niagara Falls. I know a little Malayalam. I do not speak good Malayalam. I really like Kerala. Everyone is friendly and I love Kerala meals. I especially like inji puli, sambaram, and pullisherri. Kerala Piravi Greetings to all!! 

Author of this post, Jennifer Kumar is an expat from the United States living in Kerala, India. Contact her here.



Photo credits:
Kerala in India Map: wikimedia.org
Ladies Dancing, Jennifer under tree, Vishukkani, lighting lamp, elephant: Krishna Kumar 

Meen pollichattu: Rini Raj of Mayooram School of Dance, Rochester, NY 
Hornbill, Kerala emblem, fish: Wikipedia

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