There are many theories regarding the origin of the era, but according to recent scholarship, it commemorated the foundation of Kollam after the liberation of the south Chaera kingdom (known as Venadu) from the Chozha dynasty rule by or with the assistance of the Chera emperor at Kodungallur.
Scholars from west and east were present in the convention, and the Thamizh Kanakku (Calendar) was formed.
Makaram month (middle of January) was the starting of the Kollam Aandu (year). Chaera kingdom had two harvests, one was in the Makara and the other was in Kanni. Later in 20th Century, after Vaenaadu(Travancore Kingdom) joined with the Indian Union, the Calendar was alligned with that of Sanskrit Calendar to have the Year Starting in Medam(April middle)
Kollam was the capital of Vaenaadu and an important port town of Chaera Kingdom in that period. Kollam Aandu was adapted in the entire Chaera Kingdom spreaded in the current day states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala where majority part is now in Kerala State. In Malayalam speaking Kerala now it is called as the Malayalam Era or called 'Kollavarsham'(Kollam Thontri Aandu) The earliest available record mentioning Kollam Era is a royal order by Sri Vallavan Goda, the King of Vaenaadu , dated to c. 973 CE (Kollam Era 149). In the inscription the phrase "Kollam Thontri Aandu" is employed.
Another era referred to as "Kollam Azhintha Aadu", counting from 1097 CE, was reckoned by the Chozhas for some time. It is tentatively calculated that the Chola overlords, captured the port of Kollam in 1097 CE.
The origin of Kollam Era has been dated to 825 CE, when the great convention in Kollam was held at the behest of King Kulashekhara. Kollam was an important town in that period, and the Malayalam Era is called 'Kollavarsham', possibly as a result of the Tharisapalli plates.
There are multiple conflicting accounts regarding the origins of the Malayalam calendar, some of which are mentioned below:
Makaram month (middle of January) was the starting of the Kollam Aandu (year). It was similar to the other calendars followed in Paandiya and Chozha Kingdoms. Chaera kingdom had two harvests, one was in the Makaram and the other was in Kanni. So the year was starting in Makaram, the harvesting month. Later in 20th Century, after Vaenaadu(Travancore Kingdom) joined with the Indian Union, the Calendar was aligned with that of Sanskrit Calendar to have the Year Starting in Medam (April middle).
The Malayalam months and the Sanskritic Sauram?sa (solar month) are almost the same, raising many doubts that which came first. If you see Chingam is a month in Kollam Era. Sanskrit also has the solar month, the Simham, and so on.
This is unlike the case in Tulu calendar which follow the names of lunar months. The following are the months of the astronomical Malayalam calendar:
|No.||Months in Malayalam Era||In Malayalam||Tamil calendar||Sanskrit solar month||Saka era||Tulu calendar||Sign of zodiac||Gregorian Calendar|
The days of the week in the Malayalam calendar are suffixed with Aazhcha (?), meaning week.
|1.||Njayar||?||Bh?nu v?sara||Sunday||Bhanuvara||Nyaayiru ()||Ravivaar/Itvaar
|2.||Thinkal||Soma v?sara||Monday||Somavara||Thingal (?)||Somvaar
|3.||Chowva||Ma?gala v?sara||Tuesday||Mangalavara||Chevvai ()||Mangalvaar
|4.||Budhan||?||Budha v?sara||Wednesday||Budhavara||Budhan ()||Budhvaar
|5.||Vyazham||Guru v?sara||Thursday||Guruvara||Vyazhan (?)||Guruvaar/Brihaspativaar
|6.||Velli||?ukra v?sara||Friday||Shukravara||Velli ()||Shukravaar
|7.||Shani||?ani v?sara||Saturday||Shanivara||Shani ()||Shanivaar
Like the months above, there are twenty seven stars starting from Aswati (Ashvin? in Sanskrit) and ending in Revat?. The 365 days of the year are divided into groups of fourteen days called Ñattuvela (), each one bearing the name of a star.
Vishu (?), celebrated on the 1st of Metam, and Onam (), celebrated on the star Thiruvonam [t?iru?o:m] in the month of Chingam, are two of the major festivals. The first day of Chingam is celebrated as the Kerala New Year replacing Vishu (?), which was till then[when?] considered the beginning of a year. Vishu is celebrated as the traditional new year particularly in erstwhile malabar and south canara areas, as it is astronomically significant 'Medam' being the first among the twelve Rashis (corresponding to months of a year).
The Makaravilakku festival is celebrated in the Ayyappa Temple at Sabarimala on the 1st day of month Makaram. This marks the grand finale of the two-month period to the Sabarimala pilgrimage. The 1st of Makaram marks the Winter Solstice (Uttarayanam) and the 1st of Karka?akam marks the summer solstice (Dakshinayanam) according to the Malayalam calendar. (According to the astronomical calendar the summer solstice is on June 21, and the winter solstice on December 21.)
Chaitram 1 (usually coinciding with March 20) or Metam 1 (mostly coinciding with April 14, for 2019 it was on April 15th), both in the proximity of the date of the vernal equinox (March 21), mark the beginning of the new year in many traditional Indian calendars such as the Indian National calendar and the Tamil calendar. When the Government of Kerala adopted Kolla Varsham as the regional calendar, the 1st of Chingam, the month of the festival of Onam, was accepted as the Malayalam New Year instead.
Many events in Kerala are related to the dates in the Malayalam calendar.
The agricultural activities of Kerala are centred on the seasons. The southwest monsoon which starts around 1 June is known as Etavappathi, meaning mid of month Etavam. The northeast monsoon which starts during mid October is called thulavarsham (rain in the month of thulam). The two harvests of paddy are called Kannikkoythu and Makarakkoythu (harvests in the months kanni and makaram) respectively.