The historic town of Thripunithura that still bears the imprints of the royal grandeur, erupted in a riot of colors on Tuesday during the Atham processions. Thousands thronged the streets to bring alive the nostalgic memories of the rich past. Various folk art forms , processions and street shows marked the beginning of the week-long ‘Athaghosham 2012’.
The ceremonial flag hoisting and the lighting of the lamp in Atham Nagar was followed by a colorful parade along the streets. The colorful pageant was accompanied by caparisoned elephants, traditional folk and classical dance forms such as Theyyam, Kummatti kali, Kolkali, Mayilattom, Pulikali, Kathakali and Atakavadi among many others. The Panjavadyam added a frenzied fervour to the procession, while the modern dance forms added a contemporary touch to the milieu. Floats depicted many social issues raging the state including alcohol abuse, Shawarma and food poisoning and the Mullaperiyar issue among others. As always the mythical stories and legends remained the crowd pullers this year too.
Apart from the religious fervour and festivities, the Atham festivities highlight the religious harmony among the people of Kerala. Onam , which is the biggest festival in Kerala has always been celebrated by everyone irrespective of caste, creed or colour. Though we tend to forget this message of love and brotherhood in the flurry of activities like shopping and food festivals, Onam has always remained as the biggest bonding element in the lives of every Malayalee all over the world.
Who doesn’t like puppetry? The magical art form where the finely cut paper figurines create an intriguing shadow play as the adept hands of the puppeteer pulls the strings. In some cases wooden puppets are used to enact scenes. Now an innovative puppeteer from Kasargod, K V Ramesh and his troupe have adapted a human theatre form Yakshagana to puppet show.
The dying art of string puppet play of Kasargod in North Kerala has taken an interesting combination by incorporating the highly difficult folk art form of Karnataka , the Yakshagana, which is similar to the temple art forms of Kerala like koodiyattam and chakyarkuttu.
In the last few years, the Yakshagana puppet troupes in Kasargod have come down drastically and at present there are only two active troupes including K V Ramesh’s troupe Shri Gopalakrishna Yakshagana Bombeyata Sangha. Typically puppet shows feature stories from epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagawatham where different characters are represented by the colourful costumes of these puppets. Some of the puppets can measure up to 18” in height.
This intricate art form that dates back to over two centuries has become a dying art form for want of puppeteers. Only by infusing fresh themes and creating an interest among the audience can this art form sustain itself. In Yakshagana, the story is narrated through chorus songs to the accompaniment of percussion instruments. The wooden puppets are made to dance and act by a well trained team of men and women to convey a whole range of emotions and passions where the puppets represent a range of characters through their diversely colored costumes. Let us make sure that these ethnic art forms that had been handed down the generations are preserved for posterity.
The harsh reality and the bitter experiences of real life will soon give way to the glitz and glamour of the reel life for Geevarghese , an inmate of Central Prison, Poojappura. This 62 year old ex-serviceman hailing from Pathanamthitta, Kerala was convicted in a murder case seven years ago, which brought him to the prison. Though he regrets the crime that he did in a fit of rage, he accepts the verdict whole heartedly as he believes that there can’t be justification for any crime.
Now a reformed and contented person, Geevarghese is all set to make an entry into the film world soon. He nurtured his passion for reading and acting during his free time in the prison, which has paid off handsomely by earning him a wonderful break in his life. K M Madhu offered him a role in his movie after seeing the performance of Geevarghese in a television show of prison inmates. With adequate support from the prison authorities, Geevarghese is hoping to grab the limelight soon. The Prisons ADGP Alexander Jacob has given his assurance to do everything possible to help Geevarghese fulfill his dream of being an actor.
Nonetheless, this is not going to be the maiden venture by any prisoner because an inmate of the Central Prison has already made an appearance in the much acclaimed movie ‘Mathilukal’based on the novel of Vaikom Muhammed Basheer of the same name. The tryst with film celebrities is not something new for the jail inmates. Rajesh who was a child actor in the famous film Meesamadhavan is also serving a life sentence here in what could be termed as a twist of fate.
It is interesting to note that recently Poojapura Jail inmates also got a rare chance to be part of an audio launch of No.66 Madurai Bus, a Tamil movie produced under the banner of M’wood movies. The director of M A Nishad chose this rather unconventional venue for the audio launch and the crowd comprising mostly of the prison inmates could not have asked for more. The presence of the Tamil actor Pasupathy and actress Mallika made the function extra special for the inmates. The actor struck a chord with the inmates by making an empathetic speech in which he dedicated the movie to all the inmates’ families, who he said might be facing more isolation from society for no fault of theirs.
Thus, if the innovative movie project starring Geevarghese gets underway it will be yet another novel chapter in the history of Poojapura prison and its inmates, who have always been in news for many innovative initiatives. From flori culture to chapathi making and poultry farming, they have excelled in many novel ventures and film acting could well be the newest feather in their caps.
Being a democracy, every Indian has the right to protest against unfair practices and injustices. However calling for a hartal at the drop of hat is not something that goes well with any literate society like that of Kerala. It is paradoxical that tomorrow’s call for hartal by the CPM is to protest against the arrest of one of its leaders for conspiring in the murder of an activist of another party! Gone are the days when hartals used to be a powerful tool to protest against the atrocities in the society ; now it has become more of a tool for arm twisting and intimidating the people. Apart from the loss of manhours and business revenue, hartals will throw normal life off gear. Tourists will be stranded in what they thought was a God’s own country, leaving the message that it can be a devil’s world too at times! Patients suffer for want of medical aid, exams and job interviews will be postponed and marriage arrangements will go hay wire for many a couple.
Afterall , downing the shutters for a day and being forced to remain indoors will not bring any magical cure for the ills that plague our society. It seems that the time has come to hold a ‘hartal against hartals’, to protest against the innumerable shut downs that we have to endure. Kerala has been punished by a spate of regional issue-based hartals in recent times in addition to the countless nation-wide strikes called by various political outfits. It is high time that the political parties come out with a practical solution to register a protest without harassing the hapless common man. How about working overtime to highlight the grievances as in the case of Japan? :P)
Now that the peak tourist season in many Indian tourist destinations including Kerala has already started, we at Karma Kerala wish to share a few helpful tips to the tourists to ensure a hassle free and enjoyable trip.
Recently a French Family of five members got into legal trouble for possessing fake Indian Rupees. They were duped by a fraudulent money exchanger outside the airport by offering a higher exchange rate than the normal rates. Tourists should make sure that you get the money exchange done in authorized money exchange counters instead of falling prey to swindlers on the prowl!