Kottayam has become the first mural city of India. Eighteen places which include temples, churches and public places in and around the city have been marked with murals of 350 mural artists participated in the mega programme. The participants were from the State, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Germany, Italy and Mexico. In a 13-day camp 300 mural paintings were created by traditional methods using red, yellow, green, black white colours prepared from stones and leaves. Synthetic colours were totally ignored.
One step ahead of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is a Kottayam school. CBSE has introduced theatre studies as selective subject for plus two students from the academic year 2013-14. To outsmart the CBSE, Lourdes Public School of Kottayam has decided to teach folklore and folk dances to get the minds of children attuned to State’s culture. Folk art forms theyyam and padayani have been included in the curriculum from the academic year 2013-14.
As prelude to the introduction of folk art forms a week-long folk cultural fest was conducted in the school.
Benjamin Bailey who voyaged from England to Kerala about 200 years ago at the age of 25 on a mission to spread Christanity was the person who really reformed Malayalam letters. He was also a cultural reformer in that period in Kerala. He was a missionary of Church Mission Society (CMS). Kerala’s first printing press was established by him in Kottayam in 1821 which was named as CMS press and started printing in Malayalam. It was he who changed the Malayalam types from square to round form, the current format.
He was really the first lexicographer in Malayalam.
Not long ago, the sleepy village of Thalangara in Kasargod, Kerala had been synonymous with the making of the famous Thalangara Thoppies, the beautiful embroidered skull caps. There was a time when literally every household had atleast a few expert hands in making these intricately crafted caps. But today, there is just one person in the entire area, Abubacker Musliyar of Bankode, who is engaged in the production Thalangara caps, which is on the brink of extinction.
These hand crafted skull caps were in heavy demand in gulf countries and were exported to many foreign countries including Malaysia, Burma, Singapore and the Gulf countries and became part of the glorious past of Thalangara. However, the introduction of the mechanised skull cap production sounded the death knell of this cottage industry, which is fighting for survival. Before the remittances from the gulf countries started to flow to this nondescript village, these skull caps were the major source of revenue for the villagers. Not any more! There are not many skilled hands to take up this vocation as most of them have gone in search of lucrative job options else where.
Gone are the days when men wove the skull caps and the women did the embellishments. The weavers use different designs and colours in the caps and every thread is dyed in a particular pattern, and then woven in some specific designs, which resemble the calligraphic forms that are used in Arabic and Persian mats. This makes this process time consuming and that requires a lot of patience and creativity.
During the holy month of Ramadan, there will be a heavy demand for these caps as the visitors to the historic Thalangara Malik Deenar mosque often buy these caps as souvenirs. Though he is waging a lone battle of survival in keeping this artform alive, Musliyar is committed to keep alive this tradition that had been passed down to him through generations. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that lack of promotional efforts might wipe off yet again cottage industry from Kerala. Efforts could be initiated to propagate this dying art form among the youth and to make it a lucrative vocation. Hats off to Abubacker Musliyar, a selfless artisan who has dared to put the value of these art pieces above his material gain!
Bicycles, which were once the only means of transport were shoved aside with the advent of motorised locomotives like cars and bikes. However in an interesting reversal of trends, a growing line up of young and keen cyclists is emerging in Kerala, predominantly among the techies. They prefer to not just pedal their way to work but also for their daily chores. The newly-launched Bicycle Club at Kochi’s tech hub, Infopark, is one such initiative, which has raised a lot of interest. It was set up as an initiative to promote a green tech campus in Kochi.
However in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram a cycling club took birth almost two years ago in the form of The Allianz Technopark Cycling Club. The club has become a favorite haven for cycling enthusiasts now. It has 56 cycles of eight different styles and close to 1,500 members. Youngsters make use of these low cost and green transportation option of cycles to move around the campus.
The techies in Kochi too is not far behind in patronising this trend. Even those who run their own tech firm, cycles to office every day and finds this option as a cool choice to beat the traffic mayhem of this city. Many vouch that they reach their office in half the time of what they would have taken by car. Cycling is not just a fun ride but is a recommended exercise routine as well. Some cyclists even take it up as a daily routine to tide over muscular and joint pains.
To popularise cycling among the youth, many cycling clubs have sprung up all over the city. Some malls in the city even provide an exclusive parking space just for cycles to encourage these green commuters! Bicycle hire is a popular option among foreign tourists to explore the unexplored villages and coastline of Kerala too. With the cycles available for hire for as little as `2, you could not have asked for a cheaper transportation option in Kochi.
So, next time when you are stuck in the maddening traffic of the city, just give this smart idea a thought. It will not just make sure that you reach your work place on time but will also tone your muscles to make you physically fit and alert. So, in case you have a dusty bicycle, shoved somewhere in the attic or the backyard, it is the right time to give it the place that it deserves!
Kerala is indeed a land of paradoxes! While the State Government is striving hard to promote khadi and the regional attire of ‘mundu’ among Government employees and the general public, the case has not been so in other sectors.
Recently the Police and autorickshaw drivers in the pictersque district of Wayanad got embroiled in what could be called a ‘mundu’ row,. The Drivers’ unions are resisting the move to enforce a dress code for drivers, which will prevent them from wearing the traditional mundu to work. The auto drivers feel that this directive, which will be in force from the 1st of June is nothing short of an infringement on their rights and a tight slap on the face of those of try to promote Kerala culture.
The unions have decided to air their grievance and to protest the decision by making all their members, mainly autorickshaw drivers, wear the traditional Kerala dress. They warn that they may resort to tough measures including taking their vehicles off the roads if the police went on with the implementation of the code.
Police however said the decision was taken in view of the immodest dressing followed by mundu-clad auto drivers, who often walk around with the dhotis tied high up the waist, causing discomfort to lady passengers and families. The police want the auto drivers to stick to the uniform of Khaki pants and they plan to impose a fine on those who break this law.
In most Kerala villages including those in Wayanad, a majority of drivers still wear mundu to work and some of them are so accustomed to this dressing style that it might be a difficult for them to switch to pants. While the mundu controversy continues to simmer discontent among the auto drivers in the higher altitudes of Wayanad, the women commuters have welcomed this move as they feel that very often they are caught in an embarrassing situation on roads and also while travelling in an auto.
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Kottayam had registered its name in the hall of fame long time back for being the first city with 100 % literacy. Now Keeping up its tryst with fame , it is all set to get a new tag of ‘the mural city’ after being called the land of lakes, letters and latex! When the chief minister declares it as a mural city on Saturday, Kottayam will be making a huge stride in the Kerala tourism map of the region.
At present painters from across the world are engaged in painting murals in different parts of the city like the district collectorate, library and places of worship. A massive mural sketched by Suresh Muthukulam of Aranmula Vastu Vidyalayam. depicting Noah’s Ark,” which will come up in Pushpagiri Church in Thellakom will be the star attraction of the project. According to the organizers, this 300 square feet painting once completed will be the biggest in the country. Over 300 artists from around the world,will complete the work within a day.
Meanwhile a committee has been formed comprising of district collector, Municipal Chairman,district panchayat president and the Akademi chairman will also be formed to ensure the conservation of the paintings, which is prone to damage owing to the high level of pollution in the city.
Kerala has set the living standards of the distant Scandinavian countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finlnd as its paradigm of development over the next 17 years. Kerala has decided to let go the standards set by Asian Tigers, which have long been benchmarked by developed states like Gujarat for its dubious human development indices.
As per the new paradigm, Kerala will have to make a quantum jump in its per capita income from the current $4,700 to $19,000 in the next 20 years at a compound growth rate of 7.5 per cent. Though the standards of Norway with a with a PPP of $54,000 appears distant, Kerala is aiming to achieve the $ 36,000-37,000 income bracket of Finland and Denmark. The immediate priority in this regard will be to scale down the income inequality spread score from over 40 to 23 per cent.
With the foreign remittances slated to plunge to a minuscule 4% of the State’s GDP by 2030 from a whopping 50% now, Kerala should have a well set plan to achieve this paradigm. With a qualified manpower resource to fall back, Kerala can rely on start up businesses and trading activities though Kerala is not known for its entrepreneurial credentials.
Tourism, health care and education will be the niche segments under spotlight for Kerala in the coming decade. Apart from retaining the growth rate, Kerala has to think about innovative ideas and business plans in these segments to keep the coffers full. Will Kerala leave its indelible imprints in the league of some of the most prosperous countries in the World in the next few years? This million dollar question will stir up debates, opinions and counter opinions in the coming days for sure. Meanwhile as responsible subjects of Kerala, everyone of us should strive to pitch in our best to make sure that Kerala attains this commendable distinction!
A flat tummy was considered as a sign of penury and starvation by the old fashioned, but not any more! If tummy tucks, the latest fad doing the rounds is any indication, the day is not far off when the fashion conscious youth wouldn’t mind shelling out a fortune to get a perfect tummy line.
‘Bariatric Surgery,’ as it is medically known, can reduce the size of the stomach, which enables the person to cut down on his food intake. Apart from ensuring drastic weight loss, Bariatric surgery also give a perfect figure.
Koshy George one of the most popular bariatric surgeons in the state gets a regular clientèle from far and wide and help people manage their weight through this surgical procedure. People often consult him inspired by the amazing results that this surgery has made in the lives of others. Obesity has become a modern life style disease among the city dwellers that is mostly because of the fast food culture and sedentary life style.
India and South Asia now have almost as bad an obesity problem as the US, where 60 percent of all adults are obese. Since 2011, WHO has recognised obesity as a disease.
Though genetic factors play a role in making someone obese, change in life styles have evolved to be the main causes of obesity. This surgery has helped even the diabetic patients to stop medications or cut down the dosage. The surgery , which just costs around 2.50 lakhs works out much cheaper than in many foreign destinations as well. Bariatric Surgery,’ a could thus be the latest fad in health tourism itineraries in Kerala in the days to come.