Category Archives: Travel

State’s own daughter is in raptures

Sreeja T., the State’s ‘first adopted daughter’ helping her daughter Meenakshi get ready for the Ottanthullal competition. Vinod Kumar, Sreeja’s husband, is to the left. | Photo Credit: K_K_Mustafah

State’s ‘first adopted daughter’ is at the fete with her ward

Tears rolled down her cheeks as T. Sreeja helped with the make-up of her daughter Meenakshi for the Ottanthullal competition at the Vivekodayam HSS on Monday.

It was but natural for her to turn emotional. For, Sreeja, “the first adopted daughter of the State” was exactly her daughter’s age when fate left her an orphan, leaving her to the mercy of the government.

Twenty-four years ago, on July 20, a giant tree, uprooted in heavy winds, had landed atop her home at Aninja in Kasaragod district crushing her parents, two elder brothers, and a sister. All seemed lost when the government adopted her.

Drawing her daughter, a Class 9 student of Durga HSS, Kasaragod, near, she thanked all those who helped piece her life together.

“It was the then UDF government led by the late K. Karunakaran that took her as the first adopted daughter of the State. P. Mara Pandiyan, then District Collector of Kasaragod, had recommended to the government to adopt her,” said Vinod Kumar, Sreeja’s husband, a teacher at the Govt. High School at Thachangad in Kasaragod.

Sreeja was appointed as clerk in the Revenue Department immediately after she completed pre-degree. She is now working in the taluk office at Hosdurg.

An A grade

“I feel happy when Meenakshi performs. My elder daughter Sreelakshmi, a Plus Two student at Hosdurg HSS, had won the Ottanthullal event in the school arts festival in 2015,” said Sreeja. Meenakshi won A grade in the high school section, in which 23 students participated.

Most of the participants in the Ottanthullal event stuck to the traditional stories. A student from Palakkad said she presented ‘Santhanagopalam’ as it gave ample scope for facial expressions.

Manaloor Gopinathan, noted Thullal artiste, said that his disciples tried something different while narrating a piece from ‘Nalacharitham’ and ‘Sundariswayamvaram.’ Mr. Gopinathan, a sub-inspector with the State Special Branch in Thrissur, pointed out that the contest needed new and interesting stories.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities > Thiruvananthapuram / by G. Krishna Kumar / Thrissur – January 08th, 2018

Valuable folk art recordings remain neglected

Kozhikode :

Video and audio recordings  of the folk art forms of Kerala, painstakingly documented under a project funded by US-based Ford Foundation , are getting damaged at the Calicut University due to lack of proper care and conservation.

The local fund audit wing of the state government in its report has said that the archives at the varsity’s Centre for Folklore Studies is non-functional leading to valuable recordings created under the project getting damaged.

The four-year project, under which the varsity had received Rs 67 lakh grant from the Ford Foundation, had created around 400 hours of recordings of live performances of various folk and ritual art forms of Kerala, including 13 versions of the ancient ritual art form of Padayani and a rich variety of Theyyam performances.

The report said that the archives have around 500 CDs with the video and audio recordings of the live presentations of folk art forms.

“The CDs are lying in a room without proper care and there is no dedicated staff for its upkeep. We do not know how much of the recordings can be retrieved. There are chances that some of it has already got damaged. The Ford Foundation’s folklore project had a special focus on the Kali cult in Kerala. It would be a loss for the posterity if the work is not preserved,” Anil K M, former head of the Centre for Folklore Studies, said.

Experts said that some of the folk art forms documented under the project have become nearly extinct and so rare that it is practically impossible to video document them again.

He said that lack of funds and staff was posing hurdles for the maintenance and upkeep of the video recordings. “We had submitted a project to store the recordings in a cloud storage facility, but it has not taken off,” he added.

The folklore project funded by Ford Foundation was implemented during the 2002-2006 period and aimed to preserve and document the folklore tradition of the state. The project was headed by folklore expert Raghavan Payyanad.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kozhikode News / TNN / January 09th, 2018

Keralite in tourism encyclopedia team

World’s largest encyclopedia on Tourism

‘Gods Own Country’, billed as one of the ten paradises in the world and one of the 50 must-see destinations of a lifetime, is now seeking attention through an academic contribution to the world’s largest encyclopedia in tourism.

Dileep M.R., a researcher in tourism-related issues and Head, Department of Tourism, Pazhassiraja College, Pulpally, Wayanad, has made this possible by getting nominated as a member in the expert team of hundreds of researchers and academicians from around the globe that prepared the Encyclopedia of Tourism.

Published by Springer, New York, the United States, the reference book, running more than 1100 pages, has elaborate descriptions consisting of definitions, explanations, examples/cases, and references for more than 700 key topics spanning travel, tourism, hospitality, and allied areas of the industry.

Dr. Dileep was included in the team based on his research paper published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research brought out from Hong Kong.

“The encyclopaedia is more research-oriented, collects the essence of the world’s leading tourism research with its application, and provides authoritative definitions and explanations of all important tourism topics. It is going to be the epicentre of this emerging discipline of tourism,” says Dr. Dileep.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Thiruvananthapuram / by S. Anil Radhakrishnan / Thiruvananthapuram – December 29th, 2017

It’s a quiet Hanukkah for Josephai and Ofera, at this little known Jewish Synagogue at Kochi

Not many know about the Kadavumbhagam Jewish synagogue, which sits quietly hidden behind a plant nursery in Kochi, between Market Road and Broadway. The synagogue is not internationally known like the one at Mattancherry, but amazes you with its architectural beauty, once you step inside.

Last week, the caretakers of the synagogue, Josephai Babu Elias and Ofera Elias, celebrated the Jewish festival Hanukkah all by themselves at the synagogue. Every evening after sundown from December 14 to 20, Josephai lit the customary Hanukkah lamp placed at the entrance, reading from the Torah, the Hebrew Bible, thereafter. The lamp has eight wicks, and each evening, one additional wick is lit till the last day, when all eight are lit.

“The lamp commemorates a miracle; it was lit with oil for just one day but lasted for eight days. During Hanukkah, it is kept at the entrance of every home and synagogue so that the light falls on it,” says Ofera.

Hanukkah is one of the most important of Jewish festivals, and is usually celebrated by families getting together to exchange gifts, have specially prepared foods, sing hymns and play the dreidal, a kind of dice game. For Josephai and Ofera, their two daughters have moved to Mumbai and Israel respectively, and so there isn’t much of a celebration.

But Josephai remembers how they used to burst crackers during Hanukkah, in his childhood. “We never had a dreidal but played a board game brought from Iraq, with manjadi seeds. My mother used to make pastel and hubba, rice stuffed in onion.”

He is also one of the only four people in Kochi who know to read the Torah today. “When I was small, my grandmother would try to get me and my brother to read the Torah with her and learn Hebrew better but we were least interested and would doze off. I regret not mastering it now,” he says.

Ofera grew up in Mumbai, among a large Jewish community and also studied in a Jewish school, so she too has learnt Hebrew. “For Hanukkah, we would make foods made in oil and celebrate together. This time, I just made batata fritters. If friends visit us from Israel, they bring us chocolate gold coins which are gifted during Hanukkah. This time, there were no visitors, though,” she says.

The synagogue, which dates back to 1200 AD, has seen numerous burglaries and renovations before reaching its current state. Looked after by a trust made of Josephai and his brothers, its pillars on the front face the direction of Jerusalem, and the 10 huge windows signify the Ten Commandments. The balcony upstairs was where women used to be seated, away from the vision of the men. The rooms in the front housed a Hebrew medium school, till 1948. “Thieves destroyed the building and stole the original brass lamps. I have ordered new ones from Israel. I have also re-laid the floor tiles, with handmade ones from Karaikudy, Tamil Nadu.”

Any Jew can drop in and offer their prayers at the synagogue, and often, foreign tourists from Israel drop by, they say.

Doesn’t Josephai wish to move to Israel as well? “At the age of 14, I wanted to, but my grandmother stopped me as she wanted someone to conduct the rites, as my father had died two years ago. In 1983, I tried to move again, but was again stopped, by my mother.”

 Today, he holds the Jewish traditions close to his heart, but feels that one’s motherland is the best place to be. “Perhaps it was my destiny because God wanted someone to take care of this synagogue and make it more beautiful,” he says, as he and Ofera step out of the synagogue, kissing the Mezuzah, the leather parchment pasted on the door.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Asha Prakash / December 23rd, 2017

Kollam youth gets dream ticket to the Arctic

Niyog who has been selected for the polar expedition
| Photo Credit: NP

Niyog is first Indian to take part in Fjällräven Polar, an expedition across the Arctic, in 2018

Niyog is all set for the adventure of a lifetime. This 26-year-old adventure traveller from Punalur in Kollam has just got through an online poll that will make him the first Indian to take part in Fjällräven Polar, an expedition across the Arctic set to be held in April 2018.

Fjällräven Polar is a dream expedition of adventure travellers across the world. It is an annual expedition organised by the Swedish company Fjällräven since 1997. The participants will have to travel 300 km at minus 30 degrees Celsius through the Arctic wilderness in Norway and Sweden on sleighs pulled by eight Siberian Husky dogs.

As only around 20 aspirants get the chance to take part in the expedition, and with thousands of adventurers across the world aspiring for it, the competition is quite tough. Entries are invited from adventurers in 10 wide categories of countries, most of which are for people residing in the Arctic belt. Indians get to participate in the poll under the category ‘World’.

Only one person from each of the 10 categories is selected in the online poll. The rest are nominated by a jury. After physical tests and intense training to survive in the Arctic for almost a month, the team of 20 sets out for the expedition.

This year’s entries started pouring in from November 16. Niyog registered only on December 1, with bare minimum expectations. But his friends and followers took over the campaign requesting people to vote for him.

Within four days, Niyog emerged as the top competitor in all categories. When the polls concluded on Thursday, he scored 51,078 votes, around 10,000 more than his nearest competitor.

Niyog is used to travels and adventure since childhood. He had travelled solo to different parts of the Himalayas and believes it has conditioned him for adverse climatic conditions. He was in news just a few months ago for his nomadic journey across the country as a penniless hitch-hiker.

Niyog is excited about the polar expedition that starts on April 8 from Norway, yet a bit apprehensive. “More than the temperature, the sleighs thrill me. Managing the sleigh and the dogs is quite hard. Besides, we have to look out for thin ice, which only a trained eye can notice,” he told The Hindu.

Having won the poll, it’s now preparation time for Niyog.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Aabha Raveendran / Kozhikode – December 16th, 2017

Diving school named after war veteran

Chiman Singh interacting with naval divers at the Naval Base on Friday.

It will be known as Chiman Singh Block

A newly-constructed modern dive training facility at the Diving School of the Southern Naval Command, christened as Chiman Singh Block, was jointly inaugurated by Chief of Staff of the Command Rear Admiral R.J. Nadkarni and former Petty Officer Clearance Diver and Maha Vir Chakra holder Chiman Singh at an event held at the Naval Base on Friday.

The facility houses a state-of-the-art recompression chamber complex and a laboratory, besides modern stores. It will make dive training at the school comparable with the best in the world.

Chiman Singh, after whom the new facility is named, was awarded the second highest gallantry medal for his exploits as a Leading Seaman in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

Unmatched valour

Deployed off the Bangladesh coast, he displayed unparalleled gallantry in the face of the enemy in rescuing several of his colleagues, despite being severely injured.

The sailor was eventually taken prisoner-of-war (POW) and released on culmination of the war.

This is the highest gallantry award ever received by a naval person. Bangladesh honoured him with the Friends of Bangladesh Liberation Award in 2013.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu /  Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 16th, 2017

Seminar on Travancore history begins

Thiruvananthapuram :

The three-day national seminar  on ‘Thiruvananthapuram Charithrathil’  which began at the University College  here on Monday brought to light several unknown aspects of the history of the capital city.

Organized by the department of history, the seminar was inaugurated by Kerala Council for Historical Research chairman Michael Tharakan .

In his inaugural speech, Tharakan spoke about the history of the ancient and probably the very first church in Thiruvananthapuram, St. Anne’s Church of Pettah. “During Karthika Thirunal Maharaja’s regime, his courtiers were appointed based on their potential and not according to their religion.

Traders from far and wide used to come to Travancore for their business. One such trader was Thachchil Matthew Tharakan. He used to accompany the Maharaja in his rounds everywhere except to the temple. It is believed that the king learned about Christianity through Tharakan.

And so, way before the British rule was established here, St Anne’s church was built for the Christians just outside Pettah as people belonging to other religions and lower castes weren’t allowed into Pettah. The exact year of construction is still not known,” said Tharakan.

Around 16 experts will talk about various subjects in the seminar, which will conclude on Wednesday.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News> Schools & Colleges  / TNN / December 05th, 2017

Kochi-Muziris Biennale art to adorn Cochin International Airport wall

Sadanandan’s work depict origin of clans.

P.K. Sadanandan next to his mural painting.

Kochi :

One of the biggest attractions of the third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, a massive natural colour mural by artist P.K. Sadanandan depicting a popular story from Kerala folklore, has now been installed at the new international terminal (T3) building of Cochin International Airport. Telling the well-known tale of the origins of the clans in Kerala “Parayi Petta Panthirukulam” was painstakingly created by Sadanandan and three of his colleagues over the 108 days of the Biennale from December 2016 to March this year using natural dyes extracted from stones, leaves, oil, sand and tree sap. No synthetic colours were used.

Top officials from the government and CIAL who visited the Biennale at the time had expressed the desire to find the 15mx3m mural a home at the newly constructed Terminal 3 at the airport. Among the champions of the idea were Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, former minister M.A. Baby and Ernakulam MP Prof K.V. Thomas who saw the artwork as a great symbol of Kerala to greet visitors to the state. “After the Biennale, we had meetings with V.J. Kurian, the MD of CIAL and other officials to complete the formalities to install the mural in the new Terminal 3. We facilitated their talks with the artist and offered logistical support for the installation,” said Bose Krishnamachari, the president of the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF).

“CIAL is the fourth busiest airport in the country and a masterpiece such as this deserves to be installed here, as it conveys the idea of secularism and speaks strongly against caste-based discrimination,” he added. Sadanandan himself was thrilled at the idea that the work would be viewed by thousands of people passing through the airport every day. “I am happy that the painting will draw international attention from a world which may not always focus on art. The methods used in drawing this may have been ancient and traditional, but the message it conveys has much relevance in the present time,” he added.

“I hope that this relationship will give a fillip to the efforts made by KBF to place Kerala on the world cultural map.  The last three editions of the biennale have produced many masterpieces. I believe, ‘Parayi Petta Panthirukulam’ is certainly one of them,” said V.J. Kurian IAS, Managing Director, CIAL. The work requires careful maintenance and preserving under certain temperature conditions and it might have placed a huge financial burden on the host. CIAL was a great alternative,” said KBF Secretary Riyas Komu.

source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Lifestyle> Books & Art / Deccan Chronicle / December 05th, 2017

Elapully to house an MSV memorial

Plan to revitalise his ancestral house

Two years after musical legend M.S. Viswanathan passed away, a fitting memorial for him will come up at his native Elapully village in Palakkad district.

The memorial, comprising a cultural centre and larger-than-life statue of the musical genius, will come up close to the house where Viswanathan was born and spent his first eight years amidst poverty and misfortunes. The Department of Culture is also planning to revitalise the ancestral house that is in shambles now.

According to Culture Minister A.K. Balan, a memorial committee has already been constituted for early start of the work. The formal inauguration of the committee will be held on December 23 at a mega event when musical contributions of the genius will be recalled. The event, to be organised with the involvement of Vylopilly Samskrithi Bhavan and Swaralaya, will also have a musical nite titled ‘Hridayavahini’ that will feature songs composed by the musician.

The memorial will be completed by the end of December next year. “Viswanathan is Elapully’s illustrious son. He had elementary education in the local school here,’’ recalls C.P. Pramod, an office-bearer of the committee. During his life time, the music director and composer regularly visited the remote village that is located close to the Palakkad-Pollachi highway to remember his mother Narayanikutty.

Remembering mother

“Renovating the ancestral house was one of his long-cherished dreams,” recalls E. Jayachandran, another member of the committee.

His passion to renovate the house was because it symbolised the trials and tribulations his mother went through to bring him up.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Palakkad – December 05th, 2017

Prizes given for Water Metro designs

Sweet success: KMRL Managing Director A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish presenting prizes to the winners of the design competition for the Kochi Water Metro terminals at Fort Kochi and Vyttila .

City firm, team from Chalakudy win honours

The prizes for the architectural design competition conducted by Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) for the proposed ferry terminals of the Kochi Water Metro Project at Fort Kochi and Vyttila were presented by KMRL Managing Director Mohammed Hanish.

The design by Studio Homosapiens, an architectural firm from Panampilly Nagar in the city comprising V. Vinaya Das (team leader), T.S. Dhanesh V.S., Roopa Mathew, and Abhilash, was awarded the first prize for the design for Fort Kochi while Rajiv Babu and Ameena Hamza from Chalakudy received the prize for the best design for the Vyttila terminal. Dayal Paul Sebastien, Kakkanad, and Ajay Sethi of PSP Design, Chennai, got the second prizes for Fort Kochi and Vyttila terminals respectively.

The first prize winners received a prize money of ₹50,000 each whereas the runners-up got ₹25,000 each.

All shortlisted designs got consolation prizes of ₹5,000 each.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – November 30th, 2017