More on the murky origins of the Thiyyas

There has been a spate of articles in various newspapers on Manoj Night Shyamalan’s father Dr NC Shyamalan’s study on the origin of the Thiyyas. Many of the readers of this blog have referred to these press clippings and Mr TM Premnath has also written to the editor of the Manorama newspaper with his views. Here is a news item from the Indian Express that a friend sent to me . Here it is as I received it .

Seventh Sense: Night Shyamalan is from Africa 

Arun Ram, TNN | Jan 15, 2012, 05.08AM IST

CHENNAI: When Manoj Night Shyamalan’s 1999 film “The Sixth Sense” made waves in Hollywood, many asked: “Where is this young man from?” His father Dr N C Shyamalan seems to have taken the question too seriously. 

Thirteen years later, 74-year-old Dr Shyamalan is all set to publish a book that traces his roots to a group that migrated from Africa 30,000 years ago to Krygystan in central Asia and later a subgroup that moved to north Malabar in Kerala, where they are now called ‘Thiyas’. 

Dr Shyamalan, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, says he relied on “collaborative proof ” based on historical evidence and archaeological findings to which he compared his DNA profile to confirm the ancestry. 

Based on genetic makeup, humans are classified into groups labelled ‘A’ to ‘R’. Shyamalan, who was born in Mahe in north Malabar, says he got his DNA tested. 

“I found that I belong to group ‘K’ and subgroup ‘L’. Further studies showed that the ‘K’ group had migrated from North Africa to central Asia. It inhabited the valley of Tien Shan. From this comes the word ‘Thiya’. A section of them (‘L’ group) then moved to north Malabar, Coorg and the Nilgiris via Pakistan and Rajasthan,” he says. 

Another part of this group called Sekon went south-west to Indus Valley to Punjab and another called Sekovar to Rajasthan. ‘Chekavars’, the 16th century warrior caste of Kerala, are descendents of Sekovars, says Dr Shyamalan, who challenges the popular belief that Thiyas are the same as Ezhavas of Kerala. “Thiyas are not Ezhavas, but that’s a different story,” he says. 

So, how does Manoj Shyamalan see the findings? “He found them interesting, but you know he is not interested in caste or creed,” says the proud father who is planning to organise Thiyas in Kerala to open a museum to display their ancestry and heritage.

I understand from my friend that Mr Shyamalan is planning a serious of meetings in Kerala to propagate his views and off course his book on the subject.The earlier book by Anandram ,Crete to Kerala , had limited circulation and seemed to have been largely confined to the the Thiyya community .This book is likely to get much  wider coverage and may very well set off speculation and interest .This may well spark off alot more interest in the community and perhaps more research and scholarly writings on the internet . The idea of a museum portraying  the heritage of the Thiyyas would be something to watch out for.As it stands there doesnt seem to be very much quality information on the Thiyya community in the social media.

More coffee table chatter and food for thought at the cocktail circuits I guess !! And for all you know a buzz of responses and a healthy debate on the murky origins of the Thiyyas once again !!



Author: hari008

Business Leader , Mentor and Executive Coach with a long track record of achievement , developing high performance teams and mentoring team members who now hold responsible positions in several leading companies

7 thoughts on “More on the murky origins of the Thiyyas”

  1. I come from a large Thiyya clan in Kannur and my y-chromosome haplotype is R2, which is also highly prevalent among the Sinhalese. Obviously it would help if more Thiyyas would be genetically typed to nail down the genetic markers of the majority, but it seems that the various stories surrounding this community – the Sri Lankan and Buddhist connections and the association with Kalari, Chekavars, and healing (important for soldiers) – point to the genesis of their origins in Malabar. The Sinhalese, themselves, came from northeast India (today’s West Bengal) circa 500 BCE and speak an Indo-Aryan language.

    1. Which clan? Don’t come up just to establish Ezhavas are same as Thiyya. This is a baselesss trick by backward Ezhava to make use of Forward Thiyya

    2. PSS, An inscription dating back 400BCE is found in Tamil Nadu. It speaks about a warrior called Andavan from Thiyya clan, so it seems that Thiyyas were in Main land India not in Sri Lanka . As for occurrence of Y-chrosome haplotype R2 in some members I am sorry to say that it could be transmitted because of intermarriage between the two group which happened recently .

  2. People keep arguing about the Sinhalese origin and Central Asian origin .. Just a look at the majority of Thiyyans are enough to make a solid statement that there is no way the root is Sinhalese ( Negroids ) and it has to be from Central Asia ( Mongloids ) . In the last 200 years there may have been a lot of mixing with all kinds of people , so 100 % purity wont be found . But anyone with a little common sense will see that Thiyyans could have never originated from ( Sinhalese – Dravidian – Negroids ) .. it has to be from ( Mongloids and Aryan mix ) .

  3. Interesting post but not well researched at all. A lot of stuff seems to be what the author wants to believe in. I too am from the Thiyya community by the way.

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