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!
The sleepy island of Valiaparamb in Kasargod district in North Kerala would have got cut off from the mainland but for the determination and grit of a handful of women. When the boatmen of the island decided to strike work citing the reason of fuel shortage to operate the boats, the women took up the challenge by taking the oars of the boat that they launched. The 24 km long Valiaparamb island is accessible only by ferry services along the Kovvai lake, which connects two other islands.
Though the water transport authorities are operating two boats, these are insufficient to cater to the travel needs of the islanders. When this issue was taken up for discussion at the Kudumbashree, a few illustrious women stepped into the scene and decided to throw in their oars into the waters literally. Instead of depending on someone to provide boat services, three enterprising women in their sixties decided to rent a boat and launch their own service which is available from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm every day. These women take scores of men , women and children across the waters to the other shores, everyday. A team of 15 workers from the self help group of Kudumbasree is now operating the service, which has become the life line of the islanders who have to travel to the mainland to eke out a living.
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.
Kerala has always been in the forefront in creating awareness of the deadly effects of the chemical pesticide Endosulphan. Though this harmful pesticide is banned in Kerala, it is still being used in many cashew plantations in and around Kasargod and nearby villages as there is no blanket ban that prohibits the use of this chemical in India. The global ban on the pesticide endosulfan, accepted by the sixth conference of parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Pollutants in Geneva that concluded a few days back has brought cheers to Kerala which has been in the grip of serious health problems caused by this chemical for many years now. However, the ban, which will cover technical endosulfan, its related isomers and endosulfan sulphate will take many more years to come into full force and the Union Cabinet will have to ratify the decision for a ban to take effect in India.
Apart from the health issues and infant mortality issues, this deadly pesticide has wrecked havoc in the social fabric of many villages in North Kerala, where the youth is finding it difficult to find eligible life partners these days. Parents of grooms/ brides often demand a blood test report before marriage to make sure that they do not carry traces of this chemical in their body. This is to pre-empt the possibility of having physically and mentally-challenged children being born to the couple later.
Villages like Enmakaje, which is one of the worst hit are facing this knotty problem more. Many couples opt not to have children due to the high instances of physical deformities while the rich couples in the affected villages go to the multi-specialty hospitals in Mangalore to undergo prenatal tests and selective abortion in case of any symptom of mental retardation to the baby. Instances of divorce are also high among the families in the endosulphan hit villages as people working the cashew estates are being abandoned by their partners fearing that they might develop diseases.
Endosulphan is not only a serious health problem but has evolved to be a grave social issue as well in Kerala. It is high time that we think about low cost and eco friendly pesticides that are harmless to nature and its inhabitants to make sure that the world remains safe and habitable for the future generations because “We did not inherit this world from our ancestors; we borrowed it our children”.
Paivelige, a Tulu speaking grama panchayat, located to the east of Kasargod on the Kerala-Karnataka border offers an interesting profile of a Kerala village where nobody speaks Malayalam! Technically speaking, Paivelige is a Kerala grama panchayat, though it is not a Malayali village. All the signboards are in Kannada and not many inhabitants speak Malayalam.
People of different castes coexist peacefully in this picturesque village, where farming is the main stay. The Muslims of Paivelige speak the dialect Beary, a mixture of Malayalam, Kannada and Tulu. There are Tulu speaking Bunts (Nairs) and Billavas(Ezhava\Thiyyas) and the Marathi speaking Naiks here. There are also Tulu speaking Sivalli Brahmins, who still follow the Malayalam calendar and celebrate Kerala festivals like Onam, and Vishu to complete the stunning cultural diversity of this small village.
The sheer variety of culture and languages have made this village a cut above the rest of the panchayaths in Kerala. As the countdown for the local body elections have already begun, the villagers will be once gain choosing their representative on personal merits rather than political lineages unlike the other Kerala villages which breathe, eat and sleep politics. The best part is that this village has no political divide and political clashes, which makes it stand out in Kerala!
The Ayodhya-Babri Masjid dispute issue is finally set for verdict tomorrow, on Thursday September 30, 2010. The Allahabad High Court will be making the historic judgement on this issue that has caused agony to our motherland. This issue has its own effect in our little state Kerala.
Although a small state in appearance, our state has contributed big in creating terrorists in and around the country. Above all our beautiful state is known for creating a ruckus of even the smallest issues happening at the international level. It’s no wonder that the state government is on alert!
Prevention is better than cure: Kerala government is ensuring tight security throughout the state as a precautionary measure against the background of the verdict on Ayodhya case.
Some of the security measures taken include-
2. Ban orders came into force in Ernakulam district from this morning.
3. Restrictions on organising of marches, meetings and demonstrations are to be declared in other districts.
4. About 30,000 policemen are proposed to be deployed by midnight to enforce the orders and maintain peace.
5. Preventive arrests are also likely.
6. Special security is being extended to important places of worship, railway stations and bus stands.
7. Armed reserves have positioned in district centres.
8. The media is warned against speculating the outcome of the Ayodhya dispute until they have a copy of the issues of the judgement by the Court and the operational part of the order.
Kerala seems to be ready to face any untoward incident that may crop up post the verdict. The Allahabad High Court announced that there are plans on making the judgment available to the people via the internet.
Let us hope the verdict finally brings peace to all and allow the Gods to rest peacefully in our ‘God’s Own Country’.
Kerala is famous worldwide with tourists who are looking for a serene beautiful place to enjoy their holidays. But now Kerala is eying ‘Movie-spot tourism‘.
With the recent release of the multilingual movie ‘Ravan‘ in Hindi,Tamil(Ravanan) and Telugu(‘Villain’) by the famous film director Mani Ratnam casting Abhishek Bachan, Aiswarya Rai Bachan and Vikram, the location have caught the attention of movie loving audience throughout India. And, almost all are taken up by the well done cinematography and the backdrop of the entire movie. People who know little about Kerala and haven’t visited the state before, have started to ask where was the movie shot from? Even Malayalees won’t believe that the movie was shot near Athirappally and Vazhachal waterfalls and from the forest here.
Kerala Tourism department has now stuck on the idea to make a campaign with the film ‘Ravana’. There are many films from other languages that have shot from Kerala’s different scenic locations. Hollywood movie ‘Nishabdh‘ casting Amitabh Bachan and Jiya Khan was partially shot from Munnar, since then Munnar is famous among all the Hindiwallahs. So are the movies ‘Bombay’(Song-Uyire ..uyire from Bakel Fort-Kasargod),’Dilse‘ from Alappuzha, Vinnei Thandi Varuvaya (partially from Kuttanad-Alappuzha) and many more movies that I forget.
Anyway, Kerala Tourism Department is thinking for various ways to improve its tourism and the inflow of tourists to the state. The countries like Switzerland, New Zealand and Malaysia have started the trend called ‘movie spot tourism’ long back. Movie Spot Tourism is enlisting some major locations as shooting locations where the shooting set will get all the facilities without any difficulties. It will in turn make those locations famous and in a way tourism campaign through the movie.
In Kerala, it needs to cross many barriers and face restrictions if anyone needs to shoot in forests or in other protected areas. So, Kerala Tourism is also planning to start up such a trend called ‘Movie Spot Tourism’, where they will make a list of major locations that needs attention and then the movie sets are allowed entry by paying a certain amount as fee.
A slice of my School life..
You might be wondering… have I been to China to live inside the China walls. Sorry friends.. I am planning to describe my life inside the campus of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Kasargod, and spread across 30 acres protected by a wall like in China. For your information, this school is located almost close to the Mangalore borders. If you haven’t heard of Navodaya Schools, I’ll make a brief explanation about it.
Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are Indian schools for talented children and form a part of the system of gifted education. In Kerala, we have Navodaya Schools in all the 14 districts. The objectives of the scheme are to provide good quality modern education to the children predominantly from rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition. For more details refer to wikipedia.
If any of you have studied in Navodaya vidyalaya you will know how life goes inside (Now, things must have changed a lot for sure). “It was a prison and we were prisoners,” so I say and some other students (may be or may not).The imprisonment is for 7 years (from 6th to 12th). The main reason why we say this is that at our time, we couldn’t go out except to go home and that too was like once in a blue moon, as we say – for Onam, Christmas and for the summer holidays. Except this we had no contact with the outside world.
Once we return from the holidays, the far away sight of the School’s water tank would make us distressed and gloomy and, a day is needed to free ourselves from homesickness. Once a month our parents are allowed a visit and we used to await their coming like the hornbill which yearns for the rains. All the communication between us and parents were done through letters, like the things to be brought when they visited. Though, not everything was communicated through this method. It was the time we, especially the Navodaya Students utilized the Indian Postal Service.
Now, this is only one side of our Navodaya life…
To describe the other side of life inside the Navodaya Campus is a joy! We were a big family of over five hundred members. Inside the campus we are all one. If it’s Christmas, it’s Christmas for all… So are Shivaratri, Vishu, Onam, Pooja, Holi, Easter and all other Indian as well as Kerala festivals. Every celebrations and festivals had a spirit of oneness.
But this spirit of oneness is divided only when our Annual Days, Sports Days or a competitive spirit bonds the houses (each student is given and is divided according to a house like Ganga, Kaveri, Yamuna & Krishna). I excelled in many sporting events so did every student in the School.( I think my secret behind in achieving many prizes for running competitions…Shh…. is nothing but the 500 metre distance from our study hall to Dining hall ). The united spirit during sports days, picking flowers to make ” Pookkalam” (flower carpet) for Onam, and various other inter-house competitions… all were real great fun and something that makes me smile when I think of it even today. I think, the life I described here is too little to know about Navodaya. Because it is something that I am unable to fully express out here.
But I’ll tell you, it is in here I learned about many things of life, music, art, traditions, festivals, languages and people. The schools are what that makes us out as a person. If the student is able to realise his/her potentials, the school system is a success. And, it is this realisation what makes one child the citizen of tomorrow.
To bring out good citizens for tomorrow, we need to do only one thing – give our children good and proper education while standing united in the spirit of being Indians first.
Photo Taken from the Official Website of JNV Kasargod.
Kerala, Mar 13: Sebastian P. Augustine a farmer from Kasargod, northern district of Kerala, has obtained patent for his invention of wine from tender coconut. He is credited as the first person to patent tender coconut wine. He got the Indian government patent on August last year and it is now processed by the patent officers of the European Union, the US, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Sebastine expressed hopes that the wine will benefit the coconut farmers in Kerala if the state government takes necessary steps to promote Maharastra model wine tourism. He termed the wine as a unique selling proportion to encourage more tourists to the state.
“Tender coconut wine has no artificial ingredients in it. Unlike other wines it doesn’t contain even natural water and is therefore considered as the purest drink. With the abundance of coconut trees, Kerala contributes 50 per cent of the tender coconuts produced in India. With the exclusive patented technology Kerala has the potential to convert itself as a perfect wine tourism destination,” said Sebastian.
The wine is brewed using coconut kernel and its milk. Other ingredients like grapes, pineapple, passion fruits and spices like cinnamon, clove and vanilla are also used to add more spice and flavour to the wine.