Monthly Archives: December 2017

‘Viswaguru’ aims to set a Guinness record

Pre- and post-production works of film completed in 48 hours

A biopic on Sree Narayana Guru, Vijeesh Mani’s Viswaguru, is all set to create a new record.

Aiming to break the current Guinness world record, all the pre- and post-production works of the film were completed within 48 hours, making it the fastest film ever made. “From scripting to title registration and shooting to censoring, all works were done within 48 hours. It’s an attempt from our part to bring Malayalam cinema to global attention,” says the director.

The production began at 10 p.m. on December 27 with Pramod Payyanur writing the first scene. “I had done my research on the subject as we cannot tamper with historical figures and facts. Though I started writing the script with a clear-cut idea, there were a lot of improvisations as well. When I completed the first scene the filming started,” says the scenarist. Viswaguru portrays the major events in the life of Sree Naryana Guru who spearheaded the social renaissance in Kerala. “Along with him, the film features many historical figures and Guru’s conversations with them make a major part of the film,” says Mr. Payyanur.

The film had its censoring on December 29 at 5 p.m. through special arrangement and was later screened at Nila theatre in Thiruvananthapuram at 11.30 p.m. “A Sri Lankan film holds the current record of the film with shortest script-to-screen time. While it was completed in 71 hours, Viswaguru had its screening within 48 hours,” he adds. Sivagiri Madhom and premises were the main locations of the film.

Following Guinness guidelines, all the production-related activities were recorded on camera. The film produced by A.V. Anoop has Purushothaman Kainakkari, Gandhiyan Chacha Sivarajan, Kaladharan, and Kalanilayam Ramachandran in key roles.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Staff Reporter / Kollam – December 30th, 2017

Marayoor jaggery to get GI status

Awareness meeting of sugarcane farmers and jaggery producers on Jan 4

Marayoor jaggery, a world famous delicacy, will soon get Geographical Indication status. The documentation and scientific studies on this unique jaggery are in the completion stage.

Marayoor and Kanthalloor Panchayaths in Idukki district are famous for the unique product Marayoor jaggery or Marayoorsharkara.

Marayoorsharkara is one of the sweetest jaggeries produced in the area using traditional technologies. High sweetness without salty taste, high content of iron, less sodium content, less insoluble impurities, organic method of production and dark brown colour are the unique characters of this traditional sharkara.

A meeting of the apex body constituted for the GI registration of Marayoor jaggery chaired by Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunil Kumar at Kerala  Agricultural University on Thursday decided to submit the GI application at the earliest.

An awareness meeting of sugarcane farmers and jaggery producers will be held on January 4, 2018 at Marayoor as a prelude to this.

The quality of Marayoor jaggery is attributed to low temperature prevailing in the area, soil characteristics, quality of water used for irrigation and jaggery production, the traditional methods of production and sugarcane varieties used in cultivation.

Another specialty of this jaggery is that it is not made in factories using modern equipment, but in the jaggery production sheds located in the farm itself, in a traditional manner. The jaggery produced from the geographical area has a higher market demand than that produced from other regions, since it is very sweet in taste and is of good quality.

Marayoor sharkara without colouring agents will be dark brown in colour. Undasharkara (ball shaped, solid form) is the main product of the area while paani ( liquid form), flavoured sharkara and powder form are also produced in minor quantities.

The procedures for GI registration of Marayoor jaggery was launched on December 29, 2016 by Agriculture Minister V. S. Sunil Kumar. KAU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Chandra Babu R , Registrar Dr. Leena kumary , Director of Research Dr. Indira Devi and Dr. C.R. Elsy, Coordinator of IPR Cell participated in the meeting, along with apex body members.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Mini Muringatheri / Thrissur – December 29th, 2017

Portraying the life and myths of Paniyars

Documentary maker Aneez K. Mappila

Feature-length documentary on the Wayanad tribe’s struggle for existence

A humdrum yet clear rendition of Penappattu, the ballad of the Paniyar tribe of Wayanad with its narrative on their origin and life, soaks the Paniya household in bereavement seven days after someone’s parting.

The intoner, Athali, takes no break as he calmly retells from morning, well into the brooding night, the course of his clan’s struggle for existence from the beginning. “It’s like a swirling song of the dead – the soul of their forbears rattling out their saga,” says Aneez K. Mappila, who has authored the life and death of Paniyars in a feature-length documentary, The Slave Genesis. “The tribe, as you see in the film, is deeply and inwardly spiritual.” The Paniyars believe that long ago, a feudal landlord, Ithimala Gowda, also referred to as Ithimala Pappan, had trapped them using a hand net and engaged them for labour in the fields.

“There is no paddy field, coffee or pepper plantation in Wayanad, especially those owned by settlers, that hasn’t used their labour. The practice continues to date,” says Aneez, from Kalpetta. The film, shot single-handedly over three and a half years, has a scene in which Aneez’s grandfather Moidu Haji, who has since died, narrates the story of his grandfather Pakramar, left with no other option, migrating to Wayanad in the 1860s with three of his friends. “They bought 32 acres of land from a Gowda, who also parcelled out a few Paniyars for tilling their fields. The Paniyas were paid in kind, with a portion of rice as wages,” Haji says in the film. It was his long association with the Paniya workers that prompted Aneez to make a film on their life and after-life. The film opens with a personalised childhood recollection. “I was a single-man crew and as I went about shooting, a suicide happened in the community, which led me to their pithy Penappattu.”

From a death and the superstitions surrounding it, the film takes us through various facets of the Paniya life, all punctuated with hardship, misery and tales of exploitation. “They realise they’ve been historically exploited, as we understand from the Penappattu in which the Gowda, eager to have more of their ilk, asks Paniya siblings to stay man and woman below the waist.”

Cut to modern times, scenes of the elaborate ritual following a girl attaining menarche are followed by episodes of young men getting entangled in POCSO cases, thanks to the tribe’s practice of marrying off girls young.

A graduate in English, he worked as a journalist for sometime before taking documentaries on Wayanad’s agrobiodiversity and tribal food security.

The Slave Genesis was produced with support from DOCEDGE-Bang, crowdfunding from the Kalpetta Film Fraternity and his own Canopy Black production.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by S. Anandan / Kochi – December 28th, 2017

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

Navy’s operational sea training organisation turns 25 years

C​hief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba ​delivering the keynote address at the silver jubilee seminar​ of Flag Officer Sea Training organisation. ​

Seminar today to mark the occasion will have 18 foreign delegates taking part

A two-day seminar on “Operational sea training and safety on board” got under way at the Southern Naval Command (SNC) here on Wednesday with the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, as the chief guest to mark the silver jubilee off the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) – an organisation within the Navy headquartered in Kochi and is responsible for the conduct of operational sea training of all Indian naval ships through its ‘work up’ teams located in Kochi, Mumbai and Visakhapatnam.

Operational sea training involves comprehensive training of a ship and its crew, to prepare it as a team to perform its full range of tasks during peace and war.

Vice Admiral A.R. Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the SNC, inaugurated the seminar, while Admiral Lanba delivered the keynote address. The first day of the seminar witnessed presentation of papers by speakers from the Indian Navy on the themes, “Combat efficiency through operational sea training” and “Promoting safety on board”.

The seminar will have an international flavour on Thursday with the participation of 18 overseas delegates, from Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Oman, UAE and Mauritius.

The Indian naval work-up team, headed by FOST, has been undertaking sea training service for not just the Indian Navy, but also for the Coast Guard and foreign navy ships since 1992. Over the past 25 years, the organisation has trained the crew of over 1,075 ships and submarines from the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and friendly foreign countries. Training for 16 foreign ships and regular interaction with foreign navies/coast guards has helped exchange best practices, while strengthening bonds of maritime cooperation, a defence media release said.

source: / The Hindu / Home News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 20th, 2017

Malabar: It’s no giving up for footwear industry

Started in the 1980s, the footwear industry in the region is growing with new units emerging every year.

Representational Image

Kozhikode :

The footwear industry of the Malabar region registered a jump over the years with the annual cumulative turnover of the Kozhikode-based footwear companies alone crossing Rs 1,500 crore, according to the Kerala State Small Scale Industries Association. With 150 manufacturing units supported by 300 ancillary units and providing direct employment to 25,000 workers, the footwear sector has been a breadwinner for thousands of families. With many popular brands including VKC, Paragon, Lunar, Mark, Odyssia, Cubiz, Fisher, Hawalker and Jogger, the footwear sector of the state is strong and most of the players have their origins in Kozhikode, it was pointed out.

Confederation of Indian Footwear Industry vice-president V. Naushad, who is also the managing director of VKC group, told DC that Kozhikode is contributing a lion’s share of the state’s footwear production. “Unified efforts of the industry players helped in making significant growth over the years”, he said, adding that India could pose a challenge to China, the global footwear market leader, in a few years.

“The entrepreneurs here have been getting exposure to world class technologies and changing trends during the International Footwear Exhibitions that is organized often which attracts several players to the footwear industry”, he added.    Started in the 1980s, the footwear industry in the region is growing with new units emerging every year. The flagship footwear company of the region is the VKC group with an annual turnover of Rs 1,500 crore (approx.).

source: / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> In other news / Deccan Chronicle / November 28th, 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: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Asha Prakash / December 23rd, 2017

Central Library’s reading challenge gets good response

Kerala state central Library (File)


The valedictory function of the Reading Challenge, a New Year resolution activity launched by State Central Library, Palayam for students would be held on Friday.

The library had created a special collection of around 500 books in Malayalam and English in the Children’s Library section, for the reading challenge. In the challenge, the participants have to read as many books from the collection, by the end of the year. The aim of the programme is to inculcate the habit of reading among students.

The library had conducted reading sessions where the children presented a review of the books they had read and a reading camp led by well-known writers. Nearly 600 students had enrolled in the programme.

“It was noticed that people mostly visited the library only for preparing for competitive examinations and it was planned to create an interest in the library members to read classics, which led to the reading challenge. The reading sessions received good response from students. It gave them a platform to talk about their favourite authors and share their views on books,” said state librarian, Shobhana P K.

A programme titled, ‘Vayanakku Vendi’, will be held as part of the concluding session, where the participants would get a chance to present their creative works like short stories and poems. “The session was included, following the demand from the parents,” she said.

A wide range of programmes is planned by the library authorities for next year. With the construction of the new building in the library campus, it is planned to shift the Malayalam and English fiction section from the main building and dedicate a space for the reading challenge.

“The reading challenge will be continued every year. We hope that along with students, other members of the library will participate in the reading challenge next year,” added Shobhana.

source: / The Times of India / Home> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / December 24th, 2017

Rasayana gets thumbs up from scientists

Paper vouches for cardioprotective properties of gooseberry-based Rasayana

Rasayana treatment, a specialised branch of Ayurveda, is traditionally associated with rejuvenation of vital body tissues and retardation of the ageing process. For thousands of years, Ayurveda physicians have used an array of herbal formulations to promote strength and increase resistance to toxic agents.

Now modern science has come up with experimental evidence for the beneficial effects of Rasayana and its mechanism of action. A team of scientists from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology and Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, Manipal University, Vellore Institute of Technology and Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala have published a paper corroborating the cardioprotective properties of Amalaki Rasayana, a traditional Ayurvedic formulation based on the Indian gooseberry.

Animal trials demonstrated that long-term intake of Amalaki Rasayana (AR) can ameliorate cardiac dysfunction associated with ageing and Pressure Overload Left Ventricular Hypertrophy, a condition that causes thickening of the cardiac muscle, leading to heart failure.

The scientists found that AR induces molecular-level changes that build up resistance to the toxic effects of free radicals and maximises the efficiency of heart muscle contraction, leading to better energy. The work has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Exercise tolerance

“We found that aged rats fed with AR had higher exercise tolerance,” says C.C. Kartha from RGCB, one of the co-authors of the paper. Fatigue time in treadmill exercise was found to be significantly higher in AR administered rats. AR was also found to increase the exercise tolerance and left ventricular function in hypertrophic rats.

Gene expression analysis proved that AR could trigger the expression of proteins to arrest age-related changes in cardiac muscles. The scientists reported the presence of anti-inflammatory metabolites in AR that contribute to improved cardiac function. “Though the therapeutic properties of gooseberry are well known, it came as a surprise to us that AR could induce such changes at the tissue, cellular and molecular levels,” Dr. Kartha said.

The team is currently working on scientific evaluation of the process of preparing AR as prescribed in ancient Ayurvedic texts. “For instance, there is a section that insists on distilling the gooseberry juice 21 times for maximum efficacy. The role of honey and ghee and their proportion in preparing the formulation have to be examined in detail,” says Dr.Kartha.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Karnataka / by T. Nandakumar / Thiruvananthapuram – December 22nd, 2017

Focus on role of folklorists in safeguarding traditions

Robert Baron, founding director of Folk Arts Programme at the New York State Council on the Arts, in Kochi on Wednesday.

Robert Baron, founding director of Folk Arts Programme at the New York State Council on the Arts, delivered a lecture here on Wednesday on American public folklore and folklorists as cultural brokers.

The lecture, organised in collaboration with Sahapedia, was followed by an interactive session in which Rajan Chedambath, secretary, Centre for Heritage and Development of the Kochi Corporation and anthropologist Indu Menon participated. Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the event.

The focus of the session was on the role of folklorists and cultural brokers, who enabled communities to safeguard and transmit their traditions on their own terms.

Folklore expresses shared identity of ethnic, religious, regional or occupational groups; folklore is emergent and evolves and changes constantly. Folklore is also a key instrument in facilitating cultural self-determination in a community.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – December 20th, 2017