Conflict among Hindus, divided by caste, over the right to worship their preferred deity can be found all over modern Indian history. But at the height of Indian independence struggle, the last Maharaja of Travancore, Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, stunned the rest of the country with a royal proclamation.
The decree, issued on November 12, 1936, removed restrictions on dalit entry to Hindu temples. The announcement had a profound impact on the Madras Presidency, where despite the efforts of Dravidar Kazhagam founder Periyar E V Ramasamy entry for dalits into temples was still not a reality.
Three years later, to commemorate the radical declaration, a statue of Chithira Thirunal was erected near Esplanade Road. Funded by public subscription, the statue was sculpted by M S Nagappa, then the official sculptor to the British Crown. On October 28, 1939, then Governor of Madras Lord John Erskine unveiled the statue.
“It is the only statue erected for a king in Chennai,” said historian R Venkatesh. A park around the statue was taken up for Broadway bus terminus expansion, leaving the statue exposed to the elements. The Travancore royal passed away in 1991, and a few years later the statue was shifted to the Sree Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple in Gandhi Nagar, Adyar by well-wishers.
Today, 81 years since the decree, the statue stands among discarded materials in the corner of the temple premise, having lost its place and significance in transition. “The Maharaja’s decree brought out reformist tendencies in Hindus. It is another thing that the decree did not find favour among dalit leaders like Ambedkar and Rettamalai Srinivasan who only saw it as an appeasement, and not a solution,” said political commentator D Ravikumar.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Chenna News / by Pradeep Kumar / TNN / November 14th, 2017
Artists Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari, founders of the Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB), have figured on the list of 100 most influential people in the world of art for the third year in a row.
The ‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine on the world’s topmost contemporary artists and influential figures. Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list that includes Chinese artist Ai WeiWei, who participated in the first edition of the KMB in 2012; Germany’s Wolfgang Tillman; French conceptual artist Pierre Huyghe; Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries; Bernard Arnault, founder of the Foundation Louis Vuitton; and Italian fashion house designer Miuccia Prada.
Two more Indians
Germany’s artist-as-theorist Hito Steyerl heads the 2017 ranking which only has two other Indian entries: the Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (39) founded by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and well-known art collector Kiran Nadar (99).
Mr. Komu and Mr. Krishamachari first entered the list in 2015 after the second Kochi-Muziris Biennale that ended in March.
Their individual success as artists was also acknowledged by the magazine, which said “Krishnamachari’s first solo exhibition in four years, Colour Code, took place in July at Gallery G, Bangalore, for ‘one polychromatic week’”.
“Komu has been continuing to promote contemporary Indian art through URU Art Harbour, a cultural hub housed in an old warehouse in Kochi that he opened in November,” it noted. “He recently launched a two-month inaugural exhibition titled ‘Mattancherry ‘– named after the historic quarter in Kochi in which URU Art Harbour is based – bringing together 13 artists and research collectives to reclaim the site from the tourist gaze.”
‘Power 100’ is an annual ranking compiled by the Art Review magazine
Riyas Komu and Bose Krishnamachari have been placed 84th on the list
source : http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / Special Correspondent / Kochi – November 11th, 2017
Seems like the Malayalam industry is all set to scale new heights, in terms of budget in 2018. Joining the bandwagon of big-budget projects is director K Madhu, known for directing Sethurama Iyer CBI series.
He has announced a mega project on the lives of two Travancore kings who ruled from 1700 AD to 1800 AD. The movie will be made in two parts, the director said.
The first part of the movie has been titled Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma- King of Travancore. It will trace the life of Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma, the only Indian king who trounced a foreign power in India when he won the battle against the Dutch at Colachel. The second part will be on the Karthika Thirunal Marthanda Varma, who went on to be known as the Dharmaraja. This part is also said to deal with the Karthika Thirunal’s fight against Tipu Sultan too.
“This will be a project on a massive scale. Scriptwriter Robin Thirumala and I have been researching intensively for the last three years. We have finalised the script and signed the crew, that includes big names. We plan to go on the floors by next August,” says K Madhu, who adds that this is his ambitious project.
He says: “We have prominent actors from Malayalam and other industry. While we have fixed a superstar for the first part, the leading actor for the second is yet to be ascertained. We will announce the names and the production banner soon.” K Madhu adds that the movies will boast of big names from Indian cinema. “We plan to make it in five languages,” he adds. The director says he has signed the technical crew, that includes Peter Hein for action and Resul Pookutty for sound design. R Madhi will crank the camera. Keeravani, who composed the tunes for Baahubali, will be the music director.
This will be a project on a massive scale.
Scriptwriter Robin Thirumala and I have been researching intensively for the last three years. We have finalised the script and signed the crew
– K Madhu, director
The Cochin Film Society and the Orthic Creative Centre are joining hands to felicitate award-winning documentary filmmakers K.P. Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro at the Children’s Park Theatre on Park Avenue Road at 5.30 p.m. on Saturday.
A galaxy of eminent personalities, including oncologist V.P. Gangadharan, former civil servant K.R. Viswambharan, filmmaker Dilish Pothen, critic I. Shanmughadas, and artist T. Kaladharan will take part in the event.
The programme will be followed by a screening of A Delicate Wave directed by the duo, faculty members at the School of Media and Cultural Studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Set in Kutch, Gujarat, A Delicate Wave, the latest in their Kutch trilogy, traces four different musical journeys, all converging in the ways they affirm religious diversity, syncretism, and love of the other.
Drawing on the poetic and musical traditions of Kabir and Shah Bhitai, as well as the folk traditions of the region, these remarkable musicians and singers bear testimony to how the oral traditions of compassion are being passed down from one generation to the next.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / October 28th, 2017
The Kerala native had participated in the Quit India Movement
Freedom fighter K.E. Mammen, who had participated in the Quit India Movement, passed away here on Wednesday morning. He was 96. He had been under treatment for age-related diseases at a private hospital in Neyyatinkara for the past three months.
Mr. Mammen had always followed Gandhian principles. He became active in the freedom movement as a college student. He was first jailed for taking an open stand against C.P Ramaswamy Iyer, the then Dewan of the erstwhile Travancore state. After being denied an opportunity at continued studies here, he shifted to Madras Christian College in 1940. He was ousted from there too, following his participation in the Quit India Struggle.
In recent years, Mr. Mammen had been active in anti-liquor struggles in the state.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram -July 26th, 2017
She was the daughter of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, Queen Regent of erstwhile Travancore.
Indira Bayi, daughter of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, who was Queen Regent of erstwhile Travancore, died in Chennai early Thursday. She was 90.
Wife of the late K.K. Varma, founder-chairman of the erstwhile India Meters Ltd, and long-time chairman of the Madras Kerala Samajam, she is survived by son Shreekumar Varma and daughter Shobhana Varma. Indira Bayi was born during the regency of her mother (1924 to 1931). Years later, she would become the first woman from the royal family to enrol for college education. Some of her short stories have appeared in a few magazines and two anthologies of her stories have been brought out.
The cremation will be held at the Besant Nagar crematorium at noon on Friday.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram – Chennai / July 21st, 2017
Some of the rare books in Malayalam language would have been lost if Herman Gundert, the German missionary, had not taken the trouble to transport them to his home town Calw. The documents preserved by Gundert, who was also a scholar credited with the first Malayalam-English dictionary, included nearly 80 manuscripts and 150 printed works. Some of the available palm leaf manuscripts run into 42,000 pages. These books have been archived in the Gundert archive of Tubingen University which has also taken steps to digitise the documents. The Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, Tirur, established in 2012 to promote Malayalam language, has received access to the documents through an MoU signed with the Tubingen University.
Mr M. Sreenathan, professor of language at the university, told Deccan Chronicle that it all started with Dr Scaria Zacharia, a Malayalam professor who visited Germany in connection with the meeting of the World Malayali Council, visiting the archives of the university in 1986. He published books like Pazhassi Rekhakal, Payyanoor Pattu and Thalasserry Rekhakal from the university. Some of the other books that were discovered from Tubingen included Nalacharitham Manipravalam and Sheelavathy written by Mannan. The first version of the Mahabharatham Killipattu, Krishnagatha, Thulalkadha, Panchathantram and Ekadeshi were brought to the state from the archives. The copy of Meenakshi written by Chathu Nair and published in 1890 was also discovered from Tubingen, Mr Sreenathan said.
Another finding was Keralopakari, an illustrated weekly published in 1870. There has not been much reference about this weekly earlier. A copy of Krishi Pattu was also preserved at Tubingen. The specialty of the copy of Krishi Pattu, an agriculture verse popularly known as Krishi Geetha in the state, is that it was published from Kozhikode before the advent of Chandrakala in Malayalam. Another significant discovery was Kerala Natakam. This book republished by the university was released recently. Many people, including historian M.G.S. Narayanan, have said that they have seen the book. However, the book was not available anywhere in the state. It was also received from the archives of Gundert. Many literary historians, including Ulloor Parameswara Iyer, have mentioned about this work. There are differences among the historians about who wrote the book.
Some believed that this was written by Thunchath Ezhuthachan. However, Ezhuthachan had not written anything other than poetry. The book was published by Basel Mission. Ulloor had disagreed with the theory that it was written by Ezhuthachan. The book was in the handwriting of Gundert himself. The language of the book proved that it was not written by Ezhuthachan. However, it has many similarities with another work of the period named Keralolpathi. But there is one major change. This is in the chapter Kulakrama Vivaranam which in Keralolpathi was based on Sankaracharya’s Kulakrama Vivaranam. However, the Kulakrama Vivaranam chapter in Kerala Nadakam dealing with the origin of caste was more in the nature of folklore, Mr Sreenathan said.
The documents in the collection of Gundert can be classified into three: printed books; books that had been transcript by Gundert himself or using the service of a scribe; and books in Thaliyola. Many books related to subjects like Manthravatham and on Christianity, including Puthiyaniyamathile Lekhanangal and Sathyaveda Ethihasam, are at the archives. The university is the only one in Europe that teaches Malayalam as an optional. It has also set up a Gundert chair. “I visit Tubingen as a faculty of the university and Mr Scaria Zacharia goes there as an outside academic. The Malayalam and Tubingen universities also have student exchange programmes,” Mr Sreenathan said. He will visit Tubingen soon to identify the original version of the works of Ezhuthachan, including Adhyadhama Ramayanam. Mr Scaria Zacharia said that the access to Gundert archives had begun in 1986. Many books like Pazhassi Rekhakal, Payyanoor Pattu, Thacholli Pattu and Thalassery Rekhakal were published from the archives. However, it was only recently the efforts were noticed in the state, Mr Zacharia said.
Christian missionary turned linguist
Herman Gundert, who left Germany at the age of 23 for missionary work, had planned to go to Calcutta and gained working knowledge in Bengali, Hindustani and Telugu even while travelling by sea. However, he landed in Madras in 1836 instead of in Calcutta. Gundert learnt Tamil while working in Chittoor, Andhra, and Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. During his work in Mangalore, he had a chance trip to Thiruvananthapuram where he had an audience with Swathi Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore who himself was a scholar. Gundert was attracted to Malayalam and became a scholar in the language in a short span of time.
Born in 1814, Gundert is the grandfather of 20th century Nobel prize winning novelist Hermann Hesse. Gundert had studied theology and Sanskrit in Tübingen University before completing his doctorate in theology in 1835 and joining the Bassel Mission in which he worked in Thalassery from 1938. Apart from authoring the first Malayalam-English dictionary, he translated the New Testament into Malayalam. He left India in 1859 due to illness. Most of his Malayalam books, including his Malayalam-English dictionary and hymn book, were written when he was in the south western German town of Calw.
He worked primarily from Thalassery where he compiled a Malayalam grammar book, ‘Malayalabhaasha Vyakaranam,’ published in 1859. He lived at Illikkunnu near Thalassery for 20 years spreading the gospel among the natives and writing 13 books and a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew and New Testament from Greek. He attempted a systematic grammar of the language based on non-Sanskrit-based approaches to Indic grammar as he considered Malayalam as a branch of Proto-Tamil-Malayalam, or Proto-Dravidian. It was Gundert who used punctuation marks like full stop, comma, colon and semicolon for the first time in Malayalam. In recognition of his contribution to Malayalam, a statue of Gundert has been erected at Thalassery.
source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation, In other news / by Sabloo Thomas, Deccan Chronicle / July 05th, 2017
A former professor, he was part of many human rights movements
Environmental activist P.S. Panicker, who took up the cause of victims of groundwater exploitation in Plachimada by Coca Cola and campaigned relentlessly for the protection of Bharathapuzha, died late on Tuesday. He was 75.
A former college professor, Mr. Panicker hailed from Arookkutti near Cherthala and had worked in the Political Science departments of NSS colleges at Pandalam, Changanassery, Ottappalam, Mattannur, and Cherthala. He retired from NSS College, Nenmara.
He then settled at Sekharipuram in Palakkad to actively engage with various civil society movements. A long-time associate of the late environmentalist Indyanur Gopi, Mr. Panicker was the coordinator of National Green Corps and president of Bharathapuzha Samrakshana Samithy.
He was also president of the human rights organisation Janajagratha and chairperson of Plachimada Struggle Solidarity Committee.
He is survived by wife B. Saraswathi, daughter Sudha, and son Rajkamal. Cremation was held on Wednesday evening.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Palakkad – June 07th, 2017
Educationist, administrator and founder of several institutions, Fr Gabriel Chiramel CMI passed away at Amala Bhavan here on Thursday.
He was 103-years-old. Fr Gabriel, who was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2007, was the founder principal of Christ College (1956-1975), Irinjalakuda.
Known for his administrative acumen, he served as the provincial of Devamatha Province, Thrissur. It was during this time the Amala Cancer Hospital was established.
He was also instrumental in establishing several other institutions such as St Joseph’s College, Irinjalakuda; Carmel Higher Secondary School, Chalakudy; Bharat Matha School, Palakkad; Catholic Centre Irinjalakuda and Deepthi Cultural Centre, Kozhikode.
Fr Gabriel’s funeral will be held at noon on Saturday.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Kerala / by Express News Service / May 12th, 2017
In the days of the monarchy, a royal procession used to make its way to a Siva temple in Sasthamangalam
‘Radhapura Kunnu Lane’, a nondescript signage near Sasthamangalam junction may have caught your attention as you travel along Vellayambalam-Sasthamangalam road. However, if you are planning to explore the lane hoping to find the ‘Radhapura’ or at least the remains of an old chariot house, you will be disappointed. The lane now leads to a well-laid out residential area with no trace of any built structure to substantiate the name of the lane.
Radhapura Lane was in olden times known as Radhapura Kunnu, a hill that gradually descends to the banks of the Killi River. Senior citizens from Vellayambalam and Sasthamangalam regions still remember vivid images of a state procession that linked the region with a royal past. When the city cherishes the Arattu procession and related rituals, of the area recall the state processions that once came to Sasthamangalam.
Sasthamangalam Ezhunnalathu, a regal procession to Sasthamangalam, culminated at the ancient Sasthamangalam Mahadeva temple, where the sovereigns offered prayers and rested in the ‘palace’, a double-storied structure located near the western gateway of the temple. According to popular history, it was customary of the Travancore rulers to visit ‘Sasthamangalathu Madhom’, the abode of Koopakkara Pottis, and the Siva temple soon after the Tirunal (royal birthday) celebrations. Even though the origin of this practice remains unknown to this day, some historians are of the opinion that the practice could be dated to the eighteenth century, to the turbulent days of Anizham Tirunal Marthanda Varma.
It is said that the Koopakkara Potti had helped the King on one occasion and in gratitude the King and, later his successors, made it a custom to pay their respect, once in a year, to the Koopakkara family at their residence.
V Narasimhan Thampi presents a vivid portrayal of the procession to Sasthamangalam: “… the Maharaja rides to Sasthamangalam in his golden chariot, drawn by six white horses and behind him follow a train of horse drawn carriages of the royals and the various officials. The Elayarajas, Koil Thampurans, and the Chief Justice can be seen riding in carriages drawn by two horses, whereas the other officers ride in simple carriages. The state procession starts from the Fort at four in the evening and proceeds to Sasthamangalam via Pazhavangadi, Puttenchandai, Palayam, and Vazhuthacaud. At Sasthamangalam, the King worships at the temple and visits the Potti at his residence and returns to the Fort by six O’clock.”
On the way to Sasthamangalam, the procession first halted at Vellayambalam, from where the King went to the temple with a few select attendants and high officials. The royal chariot was stationed at Radhapura Kunnu and the royal party walked down to Pipinmoodu to the temple premises.
The temple, located between Sasthamangalam hill and the nearby elevated Oolampara region, claims antique origins. Old records mention ‘Thiru-chatta-mangalam’ (later Sasthamangalam) and the temple there. Old timers believe that the temple has its origins from a small sacred grove on the banks of the Killi River. A small fragment of the grove can still be seen right in front of the eastern gateway to the temple.
With the end of monarchy, the age-old custom of the Sasthamangalam procession passed into the annals of history, but the temple remains popular among the city dwellers.
(The writer is a conservation architect and history buff)
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society> History & Culture / by Sharat Sunder Rajeev / Thiruvananthapuram – May 05th, 2017