Team Karma Kerala took a day off from its busy schedules to celebrate the festival of Onam, the largest of its kind in Kerala with all the traditional flair and grandeur.
The day started off on a busy note as the whole team got themselves divided into groups to get the flowers ready to decorate the elaborate floral carpet. The ladies and gents of Karma Kerala upheld the traditional taste in their attires by dressing themselves up in the traditional Kerala dress.
There were enough time for everyone to tuck in a few banter and photo shooting sessions as the day progressed. A traditional Onam feast was served on plantain leaves before everyone exchanged onam wishes of a prosperous and happy onam that extends to over four days of fun and fiesta for millions of Malayalees all over the world.
Malayalis have endorsed liquor as their best companion in their happy and sad moments and no celebration can be complete without a peg for any native of Kerala. It is paradoxical to note that Kerala, which takes credit for being one of the most literate States in India also tops the list of the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country. The state-owned Kerala State Beverages Corporation Ltd, the sole distributor of IMFL ( Indian Made Foreign Liquor) records an all time high in its sales during Onam, Christmas and New Year.
Bars in Kerala remain open 7 days a week ( except the 1st of every month and a few red letter days like Gandhi Jayanthi) from 9 am to 9 pm. The moment shutters open, the winding queues start taking shape outside liquor stores. Bars fill the Government coffers as it earns millions of rupees as revenue, which will go up many times during festival seasons like Onam and New Year.
Now that Onam is only a few days away, all the State run BEVCO outlets are fully stocked with all the popular brands of drinks to cater to the revelers who wish to have a kick. Last year, the beverages sale set a record of sorts in Kerala as the alcohol sales touched a record as Kerala consumed liquor worth a staggering Rs 143 crore, which does not include the sale of liquor through private bars.
This year too the Bevco is hopeful of keeping up with its double digit annual rise. Apart from the authorised Bevco outlets and bars attached to hotels, gallons of spurious liquor too will flow to Kerala across the borders to quench the undying thirst for liquor of Malayaless. It seems that when it comes to buying their favorite liquor brands, recession and rupee value depreciation never comes to the mind of Malayalees!
The Kochi Muzris Biennale, the first-of-its-kind in India, will have a colorful start at the Parade Grounds at Fort Kochi in Kerala on Wednesday. The cultural extravaganza that extends to over three months will feature 80 artists from all over the world. Kerala will be represented by 22 artists and there will be an equal number of arts and crafts persons from the other parts of India. One of the star attractions of the Muzris Biennale will be the sand creations of The Kerala-born artist Paris Viswanathan,who will be making his comeback to his homeland memorable by recreating a nearly four-decade-old masterpiece.
Some of the artists who will be gracing the occasion include Ariel Hassan (Argentina), Amanullah Mojadidi (Afghanistan), Rigo23 (Portugal) and Ernesto Neto (Brazil) and Jonas Staal (the Netherlands among others. The well known Indian artists Subodh Gupta and Vivan Sundaram will enhance the mood of the event by creating themes on Kerala including country boat, which is closely associated with Kerala village life. While Sundaram plans to bring back memories of the lost Muziris port of Kerala through his creations.
The biennale will also have various other cultural events including film screenings and performing arts. The organizers and patrons of Kochi Biennale are upbeat and confident that this event will will stand out in the golden pages of 117 years of the biennale’s history.
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.
Temple bells play an important role in adding up to the spiritual feel in temples and they have been in use since time immemorial. Adding a new dimension to the legacy of temple bells and to create an awareness on the auspiciousness of bells, Srimath Muttom Thirumala Devaswom at Cherthala in Kerala has installed a massive bell that weighs 1100 kg and is 4.8 ft long and 5 ft high, making it one of the biggest temple bells in the whole of South India. The bell was installed in connection with the renovation of the gajamandapm of the temple and the ongoing 250th anniversary celebrations of the temple.
This giant bell in bronze was crafted by R Rajendran, a traditional artist from Naamakal in Tamil Nadu. It took 4 months time to complete the bell, which costs about 10 lakh. The bell was brought to the temple in a truck to be installed in this temple dedicated to Lord Venkatachalapathy. The echoing sound of the new bell which can be heard till a long distance will surely enhance the divine milieu of this temple, which has over 2000 worshipers. This giant temple bell is sure to become a testimony of the traditional temple architecture styles of India for the future generations. Srimath Muttom Thirumala Devaswom temple in Cherthala is owned by the Gowda Saraswath Brahmins. The Cochin Thirumala temple also has a huge bronze bellwhich is 4 ft in diameter and 6 ft in height holds the rare distinction of being the second largest in Asia!
New Year celebrations in Kerala often boil down into ostentatious show of pomp and money power. New Year revelry is all about fast music, wild dance, DJs and drinks for many. However behind the glitter and the glamour of the New year revelry there were some dark moments that would leave us all ashamed.
The merry making males went overboard after downing a few hard drinks when they tried to molest the North Indian bar girls in the New Year parties in a three star hotel in Cochin. The staff and managers of several hotels had a difficult time shielding the girls from the straying hands of the spirited revelers.
In the city of Cochin alone, 878 cases were registered of which 568 were for drunk driving, wrong parking etc while 200 cases were booked for public boozing and a few related to clashes among party revelers. The city malls were jam packed with young revelers who shouted and sang all night that kept the families off.
The tourist hub of Fort Kochi also bore the brunt of the great carnival. Heaps of plastic containers of take away food parcels , decorative stuff, and loads of empty liquor bottles that remain mute testimonies of the drinking habits of Malayalees were all strewn around carelessly. It is paradoxical that as we become more educated we turn insensitive to everything around us including the less fortunate souls. It is high time that we pick up the art of celebrating special events without causing nuisance to others and littering public places !
As the city of Cochin is getting ready to usher in the New Year, it is time to look back at some of the major milestones in the city calender. The year 2011 has been of mixed fortunes for this city with a fair share of good and bad events. With a slew of innovative projects like the Metro rail and ROBs on the anvil, the business capital of Kerala indeed can look forward to some brighter and prosperous days ahead.
IPL brings cricket fever to Cochin.
The Indian Premier League’s tryst with the city of Cochin brought in cheers and frenzy among the the die hard fans of cricket . Though it made an unceremonious exit just after a season,The T 20 extravaganza offered a few memorable moments to the cricket lovers of Kerala in the form of well fought live matches in Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium. The star studded team of the now defunct Kochi tuskers Kerala had some of the well known faces of international cricket who played along the home grown talents of the State including P Prashanth , Raiphi Vincent Gomez and Prashanth Parameswaran , which was quite inspiring for the cricketing fraternity.
Kochi goes global with ICTT Vallarpadam
With the inauguration of The International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) Vallarpadam in February 2011, Kochi became an international logistics hub in the elite league of maritime trading nations. Touted as one of the most modern ports, Kochi will be a preferred choice for traders all over the world for its quick cargo handling facilities and would pose a tough challenge to many other nearby ports like Colombo, Singapore and Dubai. However the internal squabbles between SEZ and customs officials and the high loading and unloading costs have put ICTT in a hard spot now.
Vyttila Mobility Hub
Though the much hyped Vyttila Mobility hub has failed to bring in much respite from the traffic congestion, it could give shape to a long pending plan to have an integrated transit terminal in the city. The hub has been designed as a converging point for all public transportation modes including long distance buses, metro rail and inland water transport. At present the hub serves as a bus station for both city and long distance buses.
Apple A Day - One of the biggest real estate frauds in the State
Kochi will be rounding off 2011 on a sour note of the apple a day scam. In what could be termed as one of the biggest real estate frauds in the state of Kerala , a Kochi based company ‘Apple-A-Day Properties’ reportedly swindled a staggering amount of 100 crore from buyers which included 125 Indian expatriates in the Middle East. Now the cases are pending and the Kerala State Legal Services Authority has appointed an advocate to mediate the disputes between the investors and the company directors and to arrive at a possible solution.
With the count down for the New Year celebrations already started , we at Karma Kerala wish all our patrons and well wishers all over the world Merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy New Year .
Christmas in Kerala has always been a special occasion for all Keralites who celebrate every festival with fervour and zeal irrespective of their castes or creed. For most Malayalees, Christmas is not all about cookies, carols, cakes and wine but well cherished moments of family holidays and tours. Probably Malayalees have evolved to be one of the most touring populace in India these days, in a notable shift of habits of the yore . With a larger disposable income in hand and an urge to live life King size, Keralites make use of their holidays to the most.
However , the raging dam controversy , which has unleashed many violent incidents and unsavoury road blockades and political gimmicks on either side of the Kerala and Tamilnadu borders, has created a smoke screen of mistrust and fear. As there had been isolated instances of stone pelting on the Kerala vehicles crossing the Tamil Nadu border and vice versa, people are not willing to take risk. This could mean that most of them would be forced to put off their holidays till the murky Mullaperiyar dam situation is brought under control. Considering the fact that even private vehicles are not spared by the miscreants, holiday makers are virtually grounded without any options to move out of their cities.
In cities like Cochin ,the revelers will have late night party options, dance , special dinners and festivities apart from the elaborate ritual of downing a heady dose of liquor, which remains the most popular party activity in Kerala. On the occasion of Christmas, the festival of compassion and love , let us set aside the differences and work towards a feasible option to solve this nagging dam controversy, which if left unattended will have a spate of long term repercussions on either side. Let us welcome the New Year of 2012 with smile and peace by celebrating brotherhood and empathy!
For further Reading : A compilation of Christmas and New Year articles