History of beef eating in Kerala

Recently  members of Indian Youth Congress from Kerala had publicly killed a cow to protest against the ban on  sale of cattle for slaughter in Bharat, and this has triggered nationwide outrage against the Congress party.

Even the secretary of IYC was seen distributing beef.

The outrage against Congress made Rahul Gandhi himself come out and condemn the acts of his party members

In the background of all these issues, let us take a moment to analyse history of beef eating in Kerala.

Before getting recruited into the military of the kingdom, a Nair warrior (most of the military men were from Nair community) having finished studying the art of warfare from Kalari (military school) had to take oath in front of the King to protect Brahmins and cows. This is recorded by Duarte Barbosa, a 16th century Portuguese writer :

“The King then asks him if he will maintain the customs and rules of the other Nayres (Nairs), and he and his kinsmen respond ‘ Yes.’ Then the King commands him to gird on his right side a sword with a red sheath, and when it is girt on he causes him to approach near to himself and la, his right hand on his head, saying therewith certain words which none may hear, seemingly a prayer, and then embraces him saying ‘ Paje Gubrantarca, that is to say ‘ Protect cows and Bramenes (Brahmins)”

Source: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=cAgkDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT40

A similar oath was made by Samuthiris or Zamorins, the Nair kings of Calicut before their royal coronation

“At Yagneswaram he is met by Vemaneheri Namputiri,  a descendant of Melattur Agnihotri. The Eralped (Zamorin) gives him an ola (text), promising to protect Brahmins, temples and cows.”

Source: https://archive.org/details/TheZamorinsOfCalicut

It is interesting to note that Aithihyamala, a 19th century work detailing many folklore and legends of Kerala also records an incident in which the famous 18th century Raja of Cochin, Rama Varma Shaktan Thampuran executed a Muslim who had killed a cow.  The Raja also refused to observe Shivaratri vrata since the Muslim had killed the cow on that day.

So eating beef and slaughter of cattle was unthinkable in kingdoms of Kerala. How and whence did beef eating became widespread in Kerala? It could’ve become popular only after the jihad of the Islamist Hyder and his son Tipu on Kerala during the 18th century. Tipu had forced the Hindus to undergo circumcision and eat beef to prove their conversion to Islam:

” into that country in April, 1788, he directed his officers of Calicut, to begin by seizing on the Brahmins, and to render them examples to the other classes, by enforcing circumcision on them, and compelling them to eat beef; and accordingly many Brahmins were seized in or about the month of July, 1788, and were thus forcibly deprived of their caste; whilst others sought for shelter with the Rajahs of the Zamorin’s family “

Source: https://books.google.co.in/books?id=ZyUoAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA33

So taking all these evidences into account, it seems that slaughter of cows was forbidden in old kingdoms of Kerala and its popularity is a later trend after communism and Abrahamic religions like Islam and Christianity became popular.


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About the Author

Dauhshanti & Paanchajanyaa
@Dauhshanti - A proud Polytheist & Idolater, blessed to be born into the civilization of Bharata. @paanchajanyaa - Soldier of dharma... Yato dharmas tato jayah...