Know a Malayali

The Malayali people (also spelled Malayalee; Malayalam: ??????) are the inhabitants of Kerala or their descendants. They are not a homogenous group; but are defined by their use of Malayalam. While the majority of Malayalis belong to Kerala, significant populations also exist in other parts of India, the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the early 1990's, there were 28,096,376 speakers of Malayalam in Kerala (According to the Indian census of 1991), making up 96.6% of the total population of that state. Hence the word Keralite is often used in the same context, though a proper definition is ambiguous.

The Malayali identity is primarily linguistic, although in recent times the definition has been broadened to include emigrants of Malayali descent who maintain Malayali cultural traditions, even if they no longer regularly speak the language.

Malayali non-prehistoric cultural genesis can be traced to their membership (around the 3rd century CE) in a vaguely-defined historical region known as Thamizhakam—a land defined by a common Tamil culture and encompassing the Chera, Chola, and Pandya kingdoms. Malayali culture was later elaborated upon by centuries of contact with overseas lands—yet all through this time, its cultural heritage remained defined by its antiquity and organic continuity.

Malayalam is the local language. The word "Malayali" has originated from Tamil. Malai means hill and Aali means person. Malayali literally means a person hailing from the hill country.

Malayalam is also widely spoken on the Indian archipelago of Lakshadweep Islands and in the Union Territory of Mahe in north Kerala.

The average malayali can't do without his favorite cup of tea and the morning newspaper. Politics is entrenched in their animated conversations around tea stalls in the village. Malayalis are not confined to Kerala alone. In fact, they are spread right across the globe. A common joke is that you will find them even on the moon!

The traditional attire of a Malayali male is Mundu and Malayali women wear a saree. The Malayalee male is very proud of his moustache and almost 90% of the men sport a thick one (a Malayalee can be easily identified this way) and very often than not, he will also have a profusely growing beard.

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