Representing Identities: A Critical Reading of Aitihyamala
Aitihyas can be treated as a form of biographical record wherein we come across the real and imagined narratives on local heroes, anti-heroes and their heroic deeds. The society prefers to recall and nurture the memorabilia. Chronicles and legends are manifestations of the society. Kottarathil Sankunniâ€™s Aitihyamala ( Garland of Legends) is considered to be the most comprehensive resource of the legends of Kerala. Aitihyamala is not an original literary work by Sankunni. It is a collection of several legends that are part of Kerala folklore. Aitihyamala occupies a significant space in the canon of Malayalam literature. There has been an attempt in compiling the â€˜popular legendsâ€™ in order to establish a hegemonic history and in the process what happens is a deliberate marginalization of communities and denigration of their histories. The legends popular in Kerala can be read in this light where a conscious attempt can be traced out in constructing an â€œimagined historyâ€™ of the dominant classes to subvert the prevalent history of the other communities. It is interesting that this compilation does not reflect the trend towards social reform, anti-Brahmin sentiments and even elements of radicalism. We can never ignore the relationship between the â€˜transcendentâ€™ literature, â€˜contingentâ€™ history and the strategic politics.