Now, a heritage walk through royal town

Kochi:

With its ancient kovilakams, small leafy shrines overlooking moss-ridden ponds and a musical heritage to match with, Tripunithura always had an immense potential for heritage tourism.

But it was Fort Kochi and Mattancherry that always found a place in the Ernakulam tourist itinerary and the royal town never got its due.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening

Now, this is set to change with two young professionals, Balagopal C K and Krishnan Varma of Cochin Royal Family, who have chalked out detailed heritage walks around the important sites of Tripunithura for the people to get acquainted with the historicity of the city.

“Despite being multicultural, the focus is only on the Colonial history of Tripunithura with regard to heritage cultural and heritage tourism. Due to this lack of attention and rampant construction and expansion in and around the area, the region is losing its sheen. The heritage walk is an attempt to create awareness about the city and its history to the locals,” said Balagopal, an IT professional and organizer of the heritage walk. He plans to revive the evanescing grandeur of the regal city of Tripunithura.

The pilot royal heritage walk will be held on November 11 and 12 in two sessions – one each in the morning and evening. Later, the walk will be held during the Vrischikolsavam at Tripunithura temple which spans over eight days from November 18 to 25.

With Balagopal is his cousin Krishnan, an architect who had documented the heritage of Tripunithura and held an exhibition of the same in 2014, in an endeavour to bring the city back to public eye.

“The walk will also be advantageous for tourists with a taste for historical structures as a couple of buildings which are kept locked throughout the year, like the Palace Girls School made exclusively for the princesses and Ammathampuran Kovilakam which has documented evidence of Sakthan Thampuran himself living there, will be opened for them during the course of the walk,” Krishnan said.

He added that lack of knowledge about such stories behind each structure is leading to the destruction of the centuries old buildings, which later gets replaced by concrete jungles.

“During the 90-minute walk, anecdotes and histories of the Cochin Royal family and the structures that are associated with them will be narrated for giving them an idea about the past of the royal family and the milieu. The script has been approved by the eldest generation of the royal family to ensure authenticity of the same,” Krishnan said.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Afrah Ali / TNN / November 09th, 2017

What’s got Malayalis on a record-breaking spree?

Pulling a bus with teeth, smashing coconuts with bare hands, and singing endlessly for days — the feats attempted by some Malayalis are as diverse as those who sought to achieve them.

In recent years, there’s been an obsession among Malayalis to create world records and the latest in the list is Thiruvananthapuram-based caricature artist William Panipicha, who broke the world record for the longest caricature marathon on Saturday.
Is the craze for the world records only for the 15 minutes of fame or something more? We talk to a few record holders to find out:

A mode to inspire others


The latest Malayali entrant in the Guinness Book of Records is William Panipicha, an art teacher at St Thomas HSS, Poonthura. By sketching non-stop for 72 hours, with just a five-minute break every hour, the teacher says he wanted to inspire his students.
“I wanted to convey to them that hard work pays. Drawing is my God-given skill and I wanted to use that for something good for the next generation, who loves to draw and paint,” says William, explaining that he broke the record of 61 hrs 55 minutes caricature marathon set by Australian artist Ronald Francis Heberling.

William, who hails from a fishing community, says that he hopes the recognition would also motivate the children from the community to chase their dreams.

“I am a self-taught artist and it’s with my sheer will power that I reached where I am today from poverty. Nowadays, fine arts can lead to prolific career opportunities in our society including animation sector. I want my success to motivate the youth to take up art and be successful,” he says.

Inspiring others is not the only reason for attempting such feats. Noted mridangam artiste Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan, from Palakkad, has five Guinness World Records to his name — including longest performance by a solo artiste and longest mridangam marathon.

While the feats showcase his creativity and diligence with the instrument, he says his first attempt in 2004 by setting the record of a 36-hour mridangam marathon, was dedicated to all cancer patients in memory of his sister, who passed away due to lung cancer the same year.

“I was not even aware of the world records at that time and it was meant as a musical tribute to my sister,” says Ramakrishnan. “When the event was over, my friends suggested that it can be submitted for the record.”

Later on, he chose the recording-breaking attempts as a mode to popularise the percussion instrument. “My final attempt in 2009 was sort of a musical therapy. As an artiste, I feel responsible to contribute for the musical world. Music has the power to heal and thus I performed Hridaya Talam — the longest percussion concert that lasted more than 500 hrs at the Nandavanam Hospital at Ottappalam,” he says, adding that he chose the venue as the hospital as that’s where his sister breathed her last.

Chasing records tests your potential
More than competitions to set records, chasing feats aid exploring one’s skills, echo the world record holders.

Ramakrishnan says that he experimented with new genres for his feats. “I was able to test the potential of mridangam and myself while setting these records. When our contributions are engraved in the history of music, it will also give the upcoming artistes confidence to discover their skills.”

Supporting the veteran’s view is 18-year-old music prodigy Anantha Krishnan S R, who etched his name in Asia Book of Records for the longest flute marathon earlier this year.

The fame has given him confidence and also more stages to perform, he says. “Because of the title, I now have a small celebrity status in the music arena despite being so young.

I wanted to give my music teachers the best gurudakshina and that’s what prompted me to chase the record,” he says.

Despite the laurels it has brought him, the youngster says, “I am not obsessed with the record. In fact, I want the upcoming musicians to break it. These challenges help us to analyse our potentials better.”

The satisfaction of chasing your dream and being the best in the world is something that completes you, says Payyanur-based, 30-year-old Prijesh Kannan, who entered the Guinness World Records for his memory power, a few years ago.

Creating records are never easy, he says. “It was my childhood dream to enter the record books. My preparations began while I was in Class 6 and it took me around 14 years to create the record. There were days when I slept only for four hours, so I could prepare,” he says.

Prijesh now is using his fame to help others improve memory power as well as training others based on his experience.

Some Malayalis have also attempted bizarre task in a bid to set records – one among them being Abheesh P Dominic from Kottayam, who found his way to the Guinness World Records by smashing 122 coconut shells with bare hands in a minute in February this year.
“I have tried to do so many weird things to enter the book of records. However, it was not to attain fame but to prove that our body has the potential to endure whatever we wish to do,” he says.

The dangerous stunts he has attempted till date includes pulling a 10 tonne bus for 50 meters using his teeth, stopping a high-speed pedestal fan, breaking helmets, hockey sticks and smashing tender coconuts using elbow, knee and head.

While most onlookers would think that Abheesh is abusing his body, he says on the contrary, the road to records has him living a disciplined lifestyle. “I avoid processed food, keep away from drugs and alcohol and eat healthy. That’s what has helped me achieve the feat,” he says. “Making your hands as hard as a rock was a result of determination and patience.”

Fame subsides eventually
While records help achieve fame and recognition, it’s not something that Abheesh ultimately wishes for. In fact, he wants to use the feat to find a livelihood. “Though I am credited for world records, it doesn’t help me find a job,” he says.

He works as a temporary mechanic at the Erattupetta KSRTC depot. “Despite the records, I have not received any support from the government. I have been working in a temporary post for the past 10 years but they did not convert me as a permanent staff. If we visit foreign countries and introduce ourselves as a world record holder, they treat you with respect. But it’s different here. We are ignored. A world record cannot satisfy the hunger of the family,” he says.

In Video: Kerala art teacher makes Guinness record for longest caricature marathon 

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kochi News / by Arya UR / TNN / November 06th, 2017

Portraying Kerala’s history through cartoons

Kochi :

Cartoonist Unnikrishnan’s ‘Kannirukki Kalam’ is a compilation of issues and affairs- both political and social. The artist who exhibited 60 cartoons- in English and Malayalam, at the Durbar Hall recently, says that he decided to showcase his work on Kerala Piravi, tracing the brief history of changes that shaped Kerala over the years.

He has portrayed different areas such as society, lifestyle, relationships, environment, literature, politics, religion, beliefs, over the last six decades.The works have been displayed in 10 states across the country from November 1. “Some of the exhibitions are ongoing. Some like in Kerala has ended in three days time. I wanted the public in other states to get a feel of the formation of our state,” he said.

The artist says the comic strips, though humourous is meant to be thought-provoking. Exhibition of the same cartoons with English subtitles was held concurrent with Kerala Formation day, organised by All India Malayalee Associations in places such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkatha, Ludhiyana, Bhuvaneswar, Goa, Thane and Delhi. Without loosing the essence of the pictures, cartoonist T V G Menon translated the subtitles

In Delhi, poet Sachidanandhan inaugurated the function.”The exhibition is astonishing in the way it contrasted the past and presentlife of Kerala. The sight on cartoons evoked in us that change has this much invaded our life. The event is evoking a rememberance of the transformation in one’s life style,” said Lenin P N, a cartoon enthusiast.

The three day event organised by Orthic Creative Center of artist T Kaladharan, was inaugurated  by Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Managing Director A P M Mohammed Hanish.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Sreejisha Sreedharan & Elizabeth Jacob / Express News Service / November 06th, 2017

Farmers find success in fighting bugs the organic way

Kozhikode :

Even as farmers following intensive farming are struggling to battle bugs which are increasingly turning pesticide-resistant, farmer groups who have adopted organic cultivation say they have been successful in keeping the pests at bay by adopting sustainable and integrated pest management strategies. Rajesh Krishnan, a biotechnologist turned organic farmer and winner of this year’s Youth Icon award instituted by state government, for instance, has not sprayed even a drop of pesticide in his ten-acre paddy field at Thrissilery in Wayanad in the past four years.

Still, he has been able to curb the deadly trio of major rice pests the leaf roller (Cnaphalocrocis medinalis), stem borer (Scirpophaga incertulas)and earhead bug (Leptocorisa acuta) using organic formulations and local traditional knowledge.

The farmer collectives say pest management is a built-in process in the overall crop production in traditional and organic farming process rather than a pest-killing activity using chemicals. “Pests have been evolving to overcome targeted chemical pesticides as part of their survival strategy . In organic farming, the focus is on management of pests instead of elimination of pests. We have been able to manage pests very well for paddy and other crops without using chemical pesticides,” he said.

Rajesh Krishnan said that the leaf roller can be controlled by a simple mechanical method of sweeping the rice plants with branches of `Parakam’ tree which has rough leaves.

“When we sweep the plants using the tree branches in the morning, the caterpillar will be dislodged from the leaves and falls into the water which will be drained out immediately,” he said.

For repelling the earhead bug (Chazhi), ‘fish amino’ made using sardines which are fermented in a jaggery solution and sprayed after diluting it with water. Farmers in the state who have taken up `zero budget natural farming’ advocated by Subash Palekar are also of the view that pest management is not a big issue.

“Under our farming practices, which uses only natural inputs, a healthy ecosystem makes the plants stronger and enhances their selfdefence against pest attacks,” said CA Gopalakrishnan, state secretary of Palekar Prakrithi Karshaka Samithi.

He said that farmers have been effectively using natural pesticides like Neemastram (a decoction made out of  cow urine, dung and neem leaf paste), Brahmastram (made out of fruits like custard apple, leaves of papaya, guava and pomegranate apart from neem leaves and cow urine) to manage various pests including borers, bugs and caterpillars.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kozhikode News / TNN / November 06th, 2017

Sister Rani declared Blessed by Vatican

Bishops attend a ceremony for beatification of Sister Rani Maria in Indore on Saturday. | Photo Credit: PTI

She was stabbed to death in Madhya Pradesh in 1995

Kerala-born nun Rani Maria Vattalil, who was stabbed to death in Madhya Pradesh in 1995, was declared Blessed, a sacred title in the Roman Catholic Church order, on Saturday.

Vatican’s head of the Department for Cause of Saints Cardinal Angelo Amato declared the nun, popularly known as Sister Rani, Blessed, a stage below sainthood. Cardinal Amato read out the Apostolic (Pope’s) letter declaring her Blessed in Latin at a Holy Mass at St. Paul Higher Secondary School’s ground at Indore. The nun’s killer also attended the ceremony.

Cardinal George Alencherry read out the letter of Pope Francis in English, while Cardinal Telesphore Toppo did so in Hindi.

Selmy, sister of the slain nun, said she was “overwhelmed” by the declaration. “The Blessed title is considered a prelude to sainthood as was the case with Mother Teresa,” Public Relations Officer of Madhya Pradesh Catholic Church Fr. Maria Stephen said. But for sainthood, a miracle is required, he said.

All the four cardinals of India, Mar Baselios Cleemis (president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India), Mar George Alencherry (of the Syro-Malabar Church), Oswald Gracias (Archdiocese of Bombay) and Telephore Toppo (Archdiocese of Ranchi), attended the ceremony.

Sister Rani, then 41, was stabbed about 50 times on board a bus in Madhya Pradesh’s Dewas district on February 25, 1995, Fr. Stephen said. She was a member of the Syro-Malabar Franciscan Clarist congregation.

Her attacker Samunder Singh was hired to kill the nun as a few landlords in Indore were upset with her work for the uplift of landless people, he said. Singh was sentenced to life in prison. His sentence was commuted because of his good conduct in prison, Fr. Stephen said. He was pardoned by Sister Rani’s family. At the ceremony, Singh recalled his brutal act. “Then, I was in the grip of evil spirits. My life has changed,” he said.

The then Indore Bishop George Anathil initiated the process for Sister Rani’s canonisation process of the Blessed in 2001. Two months ago, the Vatican cleared the canonisation process to promulgate the ‘Decree of the Blessed’ on Sister Rani.

Sister Rani was born to Paili and Elisha on January 29, 1954 at Pulluvazhi in Kerala.   She took her first vows in 1974 and was then assigned to Bijnor for mission Apostolate. After serving in Bijnor, she was transferred to Satna and later in 1992 to Udainagar, the MP Catholic Church said. She was a champion for the poor, it said.

In Madhya Pradesh, the nun organised people exploited by moneylenders. She was threatened several times, but she refused to be cowed down.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States > Kerala / PTI / Bhopal-Indore, November 04th, 2017

Mega project on the lives of Travancore Kings

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.

A portrait of the king of Travancore | Wikimedia commons

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

48-hour free care for accident victims

Thiruvananthapuram :

The state government has decided to launch a trauma care project to provide immediate treatment for accident victims.

At a high-level meeting convened by chief minister Pinrayi Vijayan , it has been decided to provide free treatment to accident victims for the first 48 hours.

Once the project kicks off, the hospitals would be asked not to demand any kind of payment from the patient or their bystanders. The government has decided to provide necessary funds for providing all kinds of treatment, including emergency surgeries, in all government hospitals.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Thiruvananthapuram News / TNN / November 03rd, 2017

It’s a story of rice to riches for Kerala farmer

Against the grain: Praseed Kumar with his children in his progressive farm at Sulthan Bathery.

When others moved to cash crops to cut losses, he brought Gujarat and Punjab varieties to Wayanad

India’s traditional rice diversity has brought riches to a farmer in northern Kerala .

Praseed Kumar from Thayyil at Sulthan Bathery went against the tide, when his peers in the loss-hit farming community in Wayanad switched to cash crops such as plantain and arecanut a few years ago.

The 43-year-old progressive farmer got a small packet of rice seeds from a friend in Gujarat, which stood out with its violet-coloured chaff. He decided to propagate this variety. Initially, it was on just one cent of land, but later, it was expanded to one hectare.

Mr. Kumar has been conserving the ‘Krishna Kamod’, a basmati rice variety from Gujarat known for its taste, colour and aroma on one hectare for the past seven years.

Last year, he harvested nearly 2,500 kg of this paddy and sold it as seeds to farmers at ₹ 200 a kg, rather than in the open market.

“While farmers procure the rare rice variety as seed, others buy it as a gift, or keep it in their pooja rooms and offer it to temples,” Mr. Kumar said.

Fights drought, pests

He spent ₹ 85,000 as costs and earned ₹ 5 lakh. The Agriculture Department, which finds the rice attractive, chipped in with ₹18,000 as incentive.

“It seems quite suitable for Kerala and its pest and drought resistance are plus points,” said M.K. Mariyumma, Agricultural Officer, Krishi Bhavan, Nenmeni. Many farmers coming under Krishi Bhavan are eager to cultivate it.

The farmer has become famous for growing 15 varieties of rice. These include Mahamaya, a hybrid with an average yield of 4.3 tonnes an acre, Ramli, a traditional Punjab rice, Navara and Rakthashali, with medicinal properties, Black Jasmine, a violet medicinal Assamese type, two basmati variants from Jammu and Kashmir, besides Valichoori and Adukkan, both indigenous varieties.

Mr. Kumar is looking at rented land now, to grow even more.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by E.M. Manoj / Kalpetta – October 31st, 2017

Kerala’s top literary award for K. Satchidanandan

K. Satchidanan

A pioneer of modernism in Malayalam poetry Satchidanandan’s works have been translated into several languages.

The State government has decided to confer the prestigious Ezhuthachan Puraskaram, the top literary award of the Government of Kerala,   on poet-critic K. Satchidanandan.

A pioneer of modernism in Malayalam poetry, a bilingual literary critic, former Editor of Indian Literature, the official journal of the Sahitya Akademi, Mr. Satchidanandan’s works have been translated into several languages. The former secretary of the Sahitya Akademi, he is a public intellectual who has upheld secular and anti-fascist position in his life and work.

The prolific writer who has been making trail blazing interventions in literature and society, Mr. Satchidanandan has over 30 collections of poetry, over 25 collections of essays and another 20 odd collections of translations of poetry from various Indian and foreign languages to his credit.

Announcing the award at a news conference here on Wednesday, Culture Minister A.K. Balan said Mr. Satchidanandan was chosen for the award by a jury chaired by Kerala Sahithya Academi chairman and writer Vaisakhan.

The award carries a purse of ₹ 5 lakh.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> States> Kerala / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram – November 01st, 2017

Cartoon show on Kerala opens today

Kannirukki Kalam, a package of 60 cartoons drawn by cartoonist Unnikrishnan on the art, literature, society, environment, lifestyle and polity of Kerala over the past 60 years of its existence, will be on show at the Durbar Hall Art Gallery from November 1, the Kerala formation day, till November 3.

Artist T. Kaladharan’s Orthic Creative Centre is organising the show, with concurrent exhibitions of the same being held at 9 centres across the country.

Civil Supplies MD A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish will inaugurate the show. Noted cartoonist Yesudasan will preside over the event.

The exhibition will be open to the public between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – October 31st, 2017