November 1st , which is celebrated as Kerala day will offer something special for every Keralite to cherish in the form of a Malayalam varsity. This decision which was taken at a high-level meeting attended by various senior officials and ministers has gone down well with the general public.
The Malayalam university will be developed as an international research and study centre for ancient arts, heritage and literature of Kerala and will not just be a centre of excellence for promoting Malayalam language. The varsity which will be inaugurated by the Chief Minister on November 1st will offer degree and post-graduate courses and will also have a heritage museum. The vice-chancellor of the university will be appointed soon and an advisory board comprising of 26 members including noted literary figures like M T Vasudevan Nair and C Radhakrishnan will be at the helm of affairs of the varsity which will have 10 schools offering 15 courses.
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.
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!
Edakkal caves, one of the prime tourist attractions in Wayanad, Kerala has unveiled some interesting findings that every Malayalee will cherish. In a study of the computer-enhanced photograph of Edakal-5 undertaken by M. V. Bhaskar, Project Coordinator, Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) Photographic Survey, it has become clear that he language of the inscriptions in Edakal-5 is Malayalam. There are inscriptions of words like pazhama, which literally means ‘that which is ancient or old.’ In the earlier discoveries, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and the early Vatteluttu script were found in some caves.
This landmark discovery of Malayalam inscriptions on Edakal-5 conclusively proves that the common people of Kerala were expressing themselves in Malayalam from as early as 4th century C.E. While Tamil was used more by the elite class as the literary idiom in which great works like Silappadikaram were composed, Malayalam was used as the common man’s language. It is interesting to note that Malayalam was used as the medium of communication for all purposes from as early as the Kollam Era (the early 9th century C.E.), which sheds light on the history and evolution of the language of Kerala.
However, it is disheartening to note that most of the tourists are ignorant about the legacy of these priceless inscriptions. Visitors often take pleasure in vandalizing these ancient inscriptions, which can annihilate these imprints forever. We in Karma Kerala had the opportunity to visit these historical caves during our corporate weekend trip to Wayand and we were spell bound by the finesse and the artistic brilliance of these etchings made thousands of years back!
The river Nila, which is fast disappearing will also lead to the wiping out a rich civilization that thrived along the Nila. The traces of this civilzation, which is only kept alive by the folk lores , stories and songs might be lost forever for want of conservation measures.
An internationally-acclaimed tourism agency, The Blue Yonder, is striving to piece together this vanishing civilisation by wiki mapping and crowd-sourcing, which will give everyone including you and me a chance to be part of this novel venture.
This is the first time in India that attempts are being made to revive a river through ‘crowd-sourcing’ . In this ambitious plan, each and every civilizational trace in the 9,000 sq kms surrounding the 200-km course of the Nila through three districts — Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram will be documented. By roping in the local populace whose lives are influenced by the river Nila, The Blue Yonder hopes to preserve what is remaining of Nila. The team is setting up an open source platform where people could directly upload any Nila-related information.
“It could be about stories they want to share, it could be about the natural ponds in their village, it could be about farming traditions, about musicians, about skill sets, handicrafts, pottery,” Gopinath Parayil, founder of The Blue Yonder. said.
To get started Nila Foundation will take up a pilot documentation of 10 historically significant regions within the 9000 sq km including Thirunavaaya, Thrithaala or Thrissur cole lands. Each hub will have 10 volunteers who will be mapping 10 sq kms and this pilot exercise will offer an open platform for the general public to access and furnish information on Nila. Only novel ventures like the Nila foundation can save the rivers of Kerala, which are all facing a death knell due to the rampant sand mining and other human activities.
Malayalam movie makers often choose overseas locales and foreign actors in the plot to retain the interest of the discerning audience. There have been many local language movies that feature foreigners as props. For the foreign backpackers who choose to act in these films, it is not just easy money but also a rare chance to mix business with pleasure and to hog the limelight on their Kerala holidays.
On a rough estimate, around 5,000 foreigners are selected every year to act in Malayalam movies that are shot in various places. Cochin is fast becoming the hub of this so called ‘Cinema Tourism’. The city alone has eight coordinators who provide foreigners for films and any director who wishes to cast foreign faces in their movies need only to get in touch with a coordinator. The director will provide the essential details like age and appearance of the prospective actor. Now it is the turn of the coordinator to honeycomb the various home stays (which are the popular accommodation options of backpackers) in and around Fort Kochi and Mattancherry to find someone suitable. Most of them will be wonder struck at first, but will give a try once the idea sinks into them, while some others reject the offers outright.
Once chosen, the foreigners can enjoy an extended holiday in some of the most picturesque spots in Kerala and neighbouring states like Munnar, Kovalam, Coimbatore or Ooty being part of the film crew. Recently a group of 15 foreign tourists donned the paint during the shooting of Neeko Njancha in Cherai beach. The foreigners will be paid at a rate of 2000 to 4000 INR per day apart from perks and accommodation options for outstation locations. If the tourists have to re draw their tour plan, they are also compensated with train or flight tickets to their next destination.
The trend of casting foreigners is not something new and it has been going on for many years now in Hindi and other Indian languages. Giselli Monteiro, Barbara Mori, Amy Jackson- the list of beauties from foreign shores that are playing key roles in Bollywood films is impressive indeed. However, some actors have come out against the obsession for Caucasian beauties of the film makers and the audience alike, which they feel will be detrimental to the local talents.
As the debate goes on, the movie crazy Kerala populace gets ready to endorse yet another thrilling movie featuring foreigners. Now, it will indeed be a special Kerala holiday for many of these foreigners as well for the arc lights and celebrity tag that go with it!
Well, the ‘little thing’ in question is ‘Naranga Mittai‘, a small, bean-shaped candy, with an orange-like flavour and other flavours and coming in different colours- mostly yellow, red, orange etc.
Small, yes. But this little thing could work wonders. Karmakerala office today witnessed one such phenomenon. Sooraj bought a pack of ‘naranga mittai‘ at lunch-time; that prompted me to buy one too. (Well, for those who don’t know, ‘naranga mittai’ is available almost everywhere in Kerala and is the cheapest sweet available). We distributed it among our colleagues…
As I sit relishing the sweetness of ‘naranga mittai’, I realize that something really big has happened at our office, of course unnoticed. At least for some tiny seconds some of us went on ‘nostalgia’ mode and remembered school days (Hey, not me! I never got to have ‘naranga mittai’ during my school days in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands). So, it was a two-in-one effect; relishing the sweetness of ‘naranga mittai’ and relishing the sweetness of childhood memories. For me, the little sweet also seemed to be a ‘power’ that was uniting the office in a different kind of bond, at least for some fleeting moments…
The ‘Naranga Mittai’ thus teaches us one simple lesson. At a time when we tend to forget little things (little things that make up life) in a mad race for things that mean nothing, it’s worth realizing life’s little truths. One of these truths is this: it takes little things like ‘naranga mittai’ and not big big things and big ideas to melt differences and bring people together. It sometimes takes just a fraction of a second and such little things to make complicated things seem simple.
The moral of the whole thing is: Life is as simple as ‘naranga mittai’, just don’t spoil it by making it look complicated. Relish it, every bit of it…. the ‘naranga mittai’ can melt away any moment…
It’s paradoxical to note that Keralites, who have blatantly shunned Gandhiji’s policies of prohibition, have wholeheartedly endorsed Gandhism in the form of T shirt slogans! Kerala might hold the dubious distinction of having the highest per capita alcohol consumption, but it has not deterred the youth form sporting Gandhiji T shirts. A current fashion rage, these T shirts on the lines of the revolutionary Che Guevara T-shirts have become an indispensable item in the wardrobes of the Gen-X in cities like Cochin.
Foreign tourists too make it a point to pick up these T shirts on their trip to Kerala. Priced around Rs, 400, these T shirts have become runaway hits among the stylish youth of the city. Curiously these T shirts with the image of our father of nation is being supplied by a company in Thailand! The T-shirts have the snapshot of Gandhiji on the front and his famous quotes imprinted on the back. The Kerala youth set an example by popularizing the principles of Gandhi who guided India to freedom through nonviolent protests. However, abstaining from liquor would have been a more meaningful tribute to the father of the nation, who advocated prohibition as a public policy way back in the 1930s. From the earlier trend of featuring of football icons, sports personalities and music bands including Metalica and Guns & Rose among others, the fashion trends have come a full circle by portraying Gandhji as the fashion icon among the youth.
Christianity came to the Indian shores due to the missionary activities of the Europeans. Many decades down the line, now India sees itself on the other side of the table and is sending the largest contingent of Catholic nuns and priests to the West to carry out missionary activities there.
India, which has been traditionally considered as a country which received missionaries from the West, is now sending the largest number of missionaries abroad,” said Fr Mani Mekkunnel of CRI.This interesting information came up at the recently held National Consultation on Indian missionaries to other countries, which was organised by Catholic Bishops Council of India and Conference of Religious India.
At present Indian clergy is active in around 166 nations as the rest of the world copes with a severe shortage of missionaries. There are over 6,543 religious sisters, 226 diocesan priests, 1,940 religious priests and 159 religious brothers from different parts of the country including Kerala working in various foreign countries. Apart from missionary activities, they serve as priests in local churches while others run charitable institutions and hospitals.