Friday, April 24, 2009

The Life, the Times and Resurgence of the First Palagattan

The first Palagattan, according to various records available with some families in Palakkad, to settle in Palakkad, was a man called 'Vilvam' Sheshappa Iyer. The date on the land records is of October 5, 1484 A.D. This is the date when a small plot of land (with an area of about 3000 sq ft) was transferred in Sheshappa Iyer's name in a small 'kukgramam' called Noorani. This piece of land was barren, as was most of Noorani, at the time of purchase and had just one 'Vilva' ('Bel' in Hindi) tree. Hence Sheshappa Iyer got the nickname 'Vilvam' prefixed to his own given name. To this day, the tree stands at the corner of New Street in Noorani, just outside the Sastha Temple.

As Sheshappa Iyer settled down with his wife Rajalakshmi Ammal, little did he know that his 'kukgramam', his grandson in particular, and several thousands of great, great grandchildren will go on to make him and his humble origins memorable. So much so, that more that 525 years later, a blog has now appeared to celebrate his legacy. It is a world-famous blog, befitting a world-famous clan__Palagattans__and is called

This Mrs. & Mr.Iyer had 13 children. Two of them died at child birth. And of the 11 remaining, 10 decided to procreate__a process of sleeping, eating and reproducing__while the 11th, a boy, 'Vilvam' Sheshappa Pathmanapha Iyer, decided to puruse education at the local Hindu College. The young boy completed his Matric equivalent and eloped (blasphemously) with a girl who was visiting India from a faraway land called England__possibly on a pilot mission to study which was the best location for East India Company to set up a small 'potti kadai'.

Not much details are available of this story after Pathmanaphan eloped with his lady love. The Sheshappa Iyer family, in the absence of such bare necessities like Facebook in those days, could not locate there boy or their 'vellakari' daughter-in-law. And, in fact, giving in to popular rumor, they considered that their son and his lady had perished in trying to violate a basic norm of Palagattan existence which was never to cross the 'ezhu kadal' (seven seas).

Unconfirmed reports though suggest that in the records of a local prepartory school in the Warwickshire county of Stratford-Upon-Avon, the original entry for admission of a child, by the name William Shakespeare (1564 A.D to 1616 A.D), is purported to have read as 'Vilvam' Sheshappa Iyer. Palagattans of all shapes and sizes and domiciles believe that this act of suppressing the origins of the Bard of Avon was a sinister and cheap ploy of the Raj to deny the First Palagattan's family a place in the sun. In any case, thanks, mercifully, to the glorious Palagattan custom to name grandchildren after grandparents, and because names like 'Vilvam' Sheshappa Iyer and William Shakespeare are both uncommon and unputdownable, this blog has let the truth be told.

In any case, what was Noorani's loss has been, historically, Stratford-Upon-Avon's gain.

And the enigmas of the lesser-known Palagattans and the Bard of Avon endure. Only to be told today on the best blog for Palagattans to be.


  1. What a wild ride! We need to further pursue the genealogy of this bard of Avon - Seshappa Iyer. I have implicit faith in this story, knowing how well versed all Palgattans are in the art of yarn-spinning ;-)