Monthly Archives: November 2015

Israeli academic hails Kerala’s multiculturalism

Says the system preserves the identity of every community

Kerala’s traditional multiculturalism has much to offer to the policy and decision makers in modern times, says Ophira Gamliel from the University of Ruhr, the Israeli academic who has been closely associated with Kerala studies.

Ophira Gamliel says the traditional festivals and performing arts in Kerala are highly structured so as to ensure the collaboration of the various communities at different levels.
Ophira Gamliel says the traditional festivals and performing arts in Kerala are highly structured so as to ensure the collaboration of the various communities at different levels.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the third International Kerala History Conference here on Friday, Prof. Gamliel says a closer look at the multiculturalism inherited by the State would point to a dynamic system which preserves the identity of every community, even as it provides space for each of them to integrate into one system.

“You don’t lose your identity. Even small communities do not get swallowed. Your literature, culture, everything are well preserved. Instead of getting integrated at the personal level, you are integrated at the community level,” she says.

Prof. Gamliel says the roots of this unique system, still preserved, could be traced to the ancient long-distance trade exchanges which were exceptionally different in character from the modern global trade. “Unlike the modern global trade, which is marked by brutal expropriation of resources and labour, the ancient trade between the western coast of India and west Asia was marked by a great amount of cultural and knowledge exchanges at the community level,” she adds.


The more-than-1,000-year-old Cairo Documents (referring to deals between west Asian traders and those from Kerala) and the 9th century Tharisapalli plates (referring to a grant issued to Syriac Christians of Kerala) are rich evidences to this multiculturalism. “In fact, the Tharisapalli plates are signed in three languages: Persian (in Hebrew script), Pahlavi, and Cufic Arabic,” she says pointing to the efforts taken to preserve the identity of the different trading organisations.

Even the traditional festivals and performing arts here are highly structured so as to ensure the collaboration of the various communities at different levels. Beyond the complexity of what happens on the stage, this underlying structure assured collaboration at the communal level even in performing art forms, she says.

This unique system of multiculturalism should be subject of in-depth research, especially at a time when traditional communities are under threat of being swallowed up in the wave of globalisation, leading to tensions and conflicts at the community and societal level, she adds.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by George Jacob / Kottayam – November 29th, 2015

55-cr wedding for NRI’s daughter in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram  :

A Rs 55 crore wedding extravaganza, capable of surpassing even the most spectacular Bollywood sets, will unveil at the Asramam ground in Kollam on Thursday where NRI business magnate Ravi Pillai’s daughter, Dr Arathi, will wed Dr Adithya Vishnu of Kochi.

Work in progress at the venue of Ravi Pillai's daughter's wedding at Kollam. (TOI)
Work in progress at the venue of Ravi Pillai’s daughter’s wedding at Kollam. (TOI)

With a net worth of $2.8 billion, Ravi Pillai was ranked first among the richest Keralites in a survey conducted by TOI in June. Pillai’s RP Group has a strong presence in Gulf in construction, infrastructure development, mining and education, and has over 80,000 employees across 26 companies.

Though wrapped in secrecy, sources associated with the wedding plans told ToI that the festivities, planned by the production designer of the multi-lingual top-grosser ‘Bahubali’, will showcase dance performances by Malayalam film actresses Manju Warrier and Sobhana, with a musical show conducted by Stephen Devassy before 30,000 guests inside a 350,000 sq ft pandal modelled along Rajasthan royal palaces.

The main entrance of the pandal (TOI Photo)
The main entrance of the pandal (TOI Photo)

The splurge on the wedding will also include Rs 10-crore worth charity initiatives planned in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts in connection with the wedding.

A virtual who’s who of the Gulf and several European countries are expected. The guest list starts with 42 global leaders including country heads, CEOs, government reps, politicians, film-stars, technocrats and diplomats.

T P Seetharaman, ambassador of India to the UAE; Sheikh Khalifa Bin Daij Al Khalifa, president, Crown Prince Office, Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalid H A Al Thani, Royal Family of Qatar; Dr Essam Abdullah, Saudi Royal Family; and, Lebanese ambassador Michel El Khoury have confirmed attendance.

Sources at Thiruvananthapuram airport said two chartered flights are expected on Thursday. “But we can accommodate more as we only need a three-hour alert to prepare for landing and handling of special flights,” sources said.

The wedding set, spread over eight acres, has cost more than Rs 20 crore. The pandal was made by a team of 200 professionals led by film art director Sabu Cyril.

“The design is unique for this event. But it’s largely modelled on the royal palaces of Rajasthan,” said Cyril, who was the production designer for ‘Bahubali’.

He said that the wedding set is larger than the one he had made for ‘Bahubali’. “The palace in the film was set up on five acres but this set will cover 40,000 sqft spread over eight acres,” Cyril told TOI.

While Cyril had to work for two-and-half years for building the ‘Bahubali’ set, it took him close to 75 days to create the Rajasthani ambience in Kollam.

“Various parts for this set were first moulded in clay in Mumbai, and then it was cast in plaster of Paris. It took us about 40 days to assemble the pre-fabricated structures here,” he said. “And it will take us a fortnight to dismantle it and clear the ground back to its original form,” Cyril said.

Chartered flights carrying Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Bahrain royal family landed on Wednesday. An elaborate security blanket has been thrown over Kollam. Apart from 250 cops, the services of 350 private security personnel have been hired.w.

source: / The Times of India / News Home> City> Thiruvananthapuram / TNN / November 26th, 2015

Kannur girl wins laurels

Sub Lieutenant Darshita Babu wins two gold medals at the passing-out parade.

The cynosure of all eyes at the passing-out parade of cadets at the Indian Naval Academy (INA) here on Thursday was a Kannur girl, who completed her primary course as a Naval officer and won medals for meritorious performance as a trainee.

Sub Lieutenant Darshita Babu, a mechanical engineering graduate, who won the Chief of the Naval Staff gold medal for best cadet in overall order of merit for the Naval Orientation (Regular) Course and also the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (South) gold medal for the best woman trainee of the course in the Autumn Term 2015 at the passing out parade, is a native of Ulikkal near Iritty here.

“It is a matter of great pride that the woman cadet who got two awards at the passing-out parade is a Kannur girl, from the local community,” said Navy Chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan during his interaction with the press after the parade.

Daughter of Dinesh Babu, who is an employee at Ulikkal Government Higher Secondary School, and Lissy Babu, Darshita will be going to Visakhapatnam for a sub course. She is specialising in naval architecture.

“What inspired me to join the Navy was my association with the National Cadet Corps (NCC) during my school days,” she said adding that her training at the INA was a challenge.

She said that the training gives the cadets mental and physical stamina that brings about positive changes in their personality.

A graduate from T.K.M. Engineering College in Kollam, she said that she had the total support of her parents.

She is a Karate black belt holder and during her college days she was a player in the Kerala University women’s football team.

She has also been trained in classical music and dance.

source: / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Ezhimala (Kannur) – November 27th, 2015