To understand the origin of the Mallu Nairs, we first have to understand the history of the Tamilians, the neighbours of the mallus.
Long Long Ago, only Brahmins lived in TamilNadu. They are nowadays popularly known as Tambrahms. When the English first landed on the shores of Tamil Nadu, much before they had explored other continents, they were surprised to see people who spoke a strange language , wore strange clothes , even had strange markings on their forehead and other parts of the body. So, when they enquired around (in English of course), there were few who ran away and there were few who answered “Naan Brahmin” and then ran away fearing that the English would spoil their orthodox holiness. “Naan Brahmin” in Tamil means “I am a brahmin”. The English were not expected to understand this and classified this group of people as non-Brahmins. Thus, Non-Brahmins came into being and the English exploited this to create the caste system in India. In fact, all south Indians were only vegetarians at that time. A similar misunderstanding led to few people being understood as non-vegetarians and thus forced to eat meat.
Now, Brahmins consisted only of Iyers in the olden days. But, there were two “different” classes of iyers. One, who worked for daily wages and the other, who had their own businesses. The second category prospered over the years and eventually made enough money to buy and import cars from England. This group wanted to differentiate itself from the daily wage group. So, whenever they had to introduce themselves, they always said “Iyer with car”.Over the next 132 years, this phrase “Iyer with car” slowly evolved to “Iyengar”. Thus started the quest for dominance between the Iyers and the Iyengars.Since the Iyengars had cars, they slowly moved towards the eastern part of Tamil Nadu near the coast, where they made broad roads like the modern ECR, while the Iyers moved onto the hills close to the borders of Kerala.
Now back to Mallu nairs. When the British reached Kerala and started moving inwards towards the Tamil nadu Border, they were shocked to see two similar group of people at war with each other. Both were dark, spoke unintelligible language (they learnt later that both the languages were different) and yet, were fighting each other for control of the coconuts. So, the British started enquiring. Of course, the locals didn’t know English, but were proud of their own culture and identity. Since the British (through Knowledge Transfer) from their counterparts who landed in Tamil nadu, already knew about Iyers, they assumed that all dark people in this people were Iyers. So, they started addressing even the Mallus as Iyers. This enraged the mallus a lot and they started adding “Not an Iyer” at the end of their names like Harish “Not an Iyer”, Anil “Not an Iyer”. Because of the accent of the Mallus and the evolving of language over time, the surname “Not an Iyer” stuck to the mallus and it eventually transformed to Nair. Thus, we have harish Nair and Anil Nair.
All you Nairs, be proud of your history and be proud of the fact that you are “not an Iyer”.
Note: Looking at the comments, it looks like people are taking this post seriously and have started defending mallus/nairs and offending everyone else! Guys (and Gals), this post is meant to be taken in a light note. I am a s/w engineer, not a genealogist, So please don’t start off advising me on the history of the various groups. If you even have an iota of thought that anything that is written makes sense, thank you!
Note 2: If your comment has not appeared here (after a day or two), it is a deliberate act of mine and not a technical glitch. I am not approving comments which are full of expletives/hate stuff directed towards any group of people, be it mallus, iyers, tamilians or even punjabis! This article was intended in good humour, but if you dont get it or dont want to interpret it so, i can’t help it. But, i can’t let morons (like the ones hanging around on the rediff.com forums) start a hate war between communities or groups on my blog!
Note 3: After spending the last 4 years (after writing the above) on intensive research, i am almost ready to publish the history of the Mallu Menons. So, keep watching this space 🙂