The Chekavar (also Chekava, Chekavan, Chekon) were warriors of the Ezhava community, also known as Thiyyas.[1]


Chekavar is derived from the Sanskrit words Sevakar, Sevakan or Sevaka, which means soldiers in service or soldiers in royal service.[1][2] Hermann Gundert's English-Malayalam Dictionary, defines the term as militiaman and warrior.[3]

According to George Mathew, "In the south and in some parts of central Travancore the community was known as Ezhava, Chovan or Chekavan."[1]


Sangam literature and hero stones found in Tamil Nadu show that Chekavar were engaged in combat, often on behalf of a lord. On these hero stones, Chekavar are generally depicted by an image of an armed man along with a Shiva Linga. Hero stones were erected to commemorate men who had fallen in battle or cattle raids and were traditional during the Sangam period.[4]

Military exploits of the Ezhavas are recorded in folk songs such as the "Vadukkan Pattukal".[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Mathew, George. Communal Road to a Secular Kerala. Concept Pub.Co, 1989. p. 30. ISBN 81-7022-282-6.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Bardwell L. (1976). Religion and Social Conflict in South Asia. BRILL. p. 27. ISBN 90-04-04510-4.
  3. ^ Gundert, Herman (2000) [1872]. Malayalam-English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Sahythia Pravarthaka Sahakarana Sangham, Kerala.
  4. ^ Orr, Leslie C. (2007). "Domesticity and Difference/Women and Men: Religious Life in Medieval Tamil Nadu". In Pintchman, Tracy (ed.). Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition. Oxford University Press. p. 113. ISBN 0-19-517706-1. Retrieved 13 December 2008.