Kerala: An Introduction
According to mythology, Parasurama an incarnation of Vishnu, weary of long years of war and bloodshed decided to undertake a penance in the Western Ghats. Varuna, the God of water responded to his prayers and granted him a boon. Parasurama was asked to throw his axe and the area and distance covered by the axe would be his. Known for his strength and valour, Parasurama swung his axe with such power and might that it reached Kanyakumari. This strip of land covered by the axe came to be known as Kerala. Another creation myth narrates how Varuna raised lands from beneath the ocean and formed the region called Kerala. Politically a merging of three regions in 1956 Travancore, Cochin and Malabar, formed the state. In Sanskrit Kerala means, Land added on which is both mythically and geologically true of the origin of Kerala. Another opinion is that the name is derived from Kera, which means coconut in Malayalam. But there are also theories about the absence of coconut in Kerala, at that time. A more convincing view can be traced back to the Chera Dynasty. The Chera kings were referred to as Cheralan and Cheralatan. The Sanskrit word for Chera is Kera and alam means country. Thus the name Kerala or Keralam may have meant the country of the Cheras.