Friday, August 4, 2023




The other day my wife broached upon the subject of school re-unions.  She said, hers is likely to happen on the New Year eve 2024.

‘Great Idea’!, I said.

‘But this time it is going to be with spouse, I mean you have to join me’, she retorted

‘With Me?  Naa... I am not interested to meet your classmates!  Neither would they be’, I muttered.

‘No, no, you should attend this one, my friends would be happy to meet you’, she said.

 ‘Let me think it over’, I replied.

Social media, especially watsapp, facebook, Instagram have added a new dimension to human connections.  A decade ago few schools and colleges had alumini meets but rarely did entire bunch of classmates or batchmates decided to meet up to relive old times through re-unions so frequently as now.  While human brains seek reassurance and bonding in social terms, studies indicate that social connections and support forms a critical space for physical and emotional well being of human beings.  Such responses are often triggered by neurotransmitters present in the human body in form of hormones. Re-unions are occasions when nostalgia is evoked.  Past experiences and present circumstances conjoin to bring out new set of emotions.  These are triggered on meeting long lost friends and mates with whom a significant phase of adolescence is spent during school or college times.  Nostalgia often plays an important aspect on people seeking to meet over re-unions.  According to  a study published in Journal of Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, such re-unions trigger important neurotransmitters such and dopamine and Oxytocin during social bonding.  Oxytocin which is also called the ‘love hormone’ perhaps justifies the urge of human minds to repeatedly seek opportunities to kindle past memories that are joy through such get together.   

 It is not necessary that each person enjoys the same set of emotions during re-unions.  There may be many who may not enjoy reunions and may feel anxious during such occasions.  This could be due to trauma or pain experienced with individuals or occasions in the past that they fear may get re-kindled during such occasions.  On such occasions people who struggle with social anxiety may in fact end up triggering their stress hormones such as Cortisol which may make them more stressful and uncomfortable.

Present is as much an excitement as the past.  However, I find that each phase of life takes mood and temperament of a person to different directions during different points in time.  A mood of an individual may vary depending upon his personal well being and social status.  Someone who has not performed well professionally or financially in his life may not be keen to meet up his/her old mates fearing adverse reaction from them.  On the contrary a highly successful person may be more than happy to share his success story with his long lost friends.

I on my part have been part of numerous reunions and gettogethers.  My observation as to the mode, venue, time, season and size of the gathering has impelled me to write this piece.  I have discovered that joy of meeting long lost friends is indeed a joy filled experience however if the reunion is organised over dinner or lunch  most attendees end up being one to one with select few friends and over a period of a hour or two and the entire group gets scattered.  Primary focus invariably gets into food and drinks than any worthwhile discussion or deliberation.  Common interests do not persist and few from the group try to snatch away the discussion towards their own comfort and direction.  Those specializing in sales and marketing over do it to such an extent that many feel that their voices are stymied or muffled and they suffer in silence.  

In the Indian context,  I have observed that persons who volunteer and perform any acts are treated as a character from the Hindi Movie from ‘Bheja Fry’! I am reminded of an experience during a get-together, when the host/compare went on stage to announce, “While some of our dear friends will entertain us with their songs and music, let us (meaning the rest) head towards the dinner table to splurge on some delicious dishes that have specially been ordered for the occasion’. I to may dismay found the entire bunch of around 100 persons lunged towards the dinner area deserting the poor performers on stage and their voices deluged under sounds of clanking crockery, laughs and loud harangues!

Food is another issue during such get-togethers in the Indian context.  While there is never a final agreement on choice of dishes, Vegan over Non Veg., Chinese over continental, North over South etc. spats continue much after the meetups without compromise.  If the get-together are laced with drinks then the situation often witnesses dramatic turn around.  The social drinkers get on a high and past friendships are rekindled in unknown ways.  This is the occasion when names of old flames catch flight and mingle with the fragrance in the air, secret stories from the past are laid bare making many faces change hues.  It takes a sober leader from the crowd to rise up on such occasions to calm nerves.

At this juncture, I am reminded of another story, when spouse of a class mate (a celebrity settled abroad) decided to throw a surprise party to all the batch mates on the occasion of birthday of her husband.   While all the batch mates knew each other, none ever had met this lady.  The invitation was extended to entire families and a large group of friends including their spouses and children landed up at the designated restaurant on the designated day at around 7pm.  It was a reunion of sorts, as it was two decades after passing out from school that the batch mates were meeting up! Birthday boy (meaning our friend) had not arrived but his wife was all dressed up for the occasion waiting at the foyer with her set of relatives beckoning all the invitees to join them.   She announced that the bar was open and the group may kick off the evening with Cocktails and snacks, while her husband was enroute.  When our friend finally arrived at 9pm, I noticed the colour on his face change on witnessing a large group of known faces (his school mates) revving up the party.  The party had kicked off around 7.30 pm and all went on fine till 11pm.  However, it was time when the resto manager was pleading with guests to start off dinner.  Though the cake was cut, the boisterous male members who were already high would not  keep their glasses away and kept on requesting for repeats. It was 12 at night when some female members got tizzy and the party mood changed colours.   Few kids were already asleep having guzzled up soft drinks and juices. Food was yet to be served!  The resort was to close at 1am and like fait accompli at the insistence of Resto Manger few brave spouses announced dinner open. However it was a shock to see few male members threatening the hotel management to keep the Bar open till dawn!  

Alas! There never was news of any other party or reunion thrown in by this lady thereafter!            

So much about reunions.  It is time to attend one.  Are you game for it?

I am certainly planning to join my wife on her next school reunion. 


Saturday, September 17, 2022

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar: Transcending boundaries of time

                                                Transcending boundaries of time

Chembai Memorial at Kottayi, Palakkad

Palakkad is a rare gem in the cultural milieu of fascinating geographical diversity that God’s Own Country presents to the world.  The district has to its name innumerable personalities who have excelled and have been recognised for their contributions to the world and humanity through their talent, hard work and dedication.  One such towering personality is doyen of Carnartic Music, Chembai Vaidyantha Bhagwathar For a lover of Carnatic Music, a visit to Kerala will be incomplete without a visit to Chembai Gramam, home of the legendary Carnatic Vocalist who has taken this musical form to great heights.


Music connects real with the transcended. 

In it, we get healed, with it we conquer time…  

Hidden amidst green paddy fields and a serene country side is a sleepy village of Kottayi which has taken Carnatic Music to great heights.  A visit to  this village is akin to visit to a temple of music that awakens the light of knowledge and melody of life in one’s heart. Home and abode of doyen of Carnatic Music, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar.

Karuna Cheivan Endu Thamasam Krishna

 (Why is there so much delay in conferring your mercy, Krishna?}, was the last Kriti sung by Vaidyanathan Bhagavathar, as he breathed his last on 16th October, 1974 at an age of 78 during a concert at Poozhikunnu Sreekrishna Temple, the same venue where he performed for the first time.

Ancestral House of Chembai at Kottayi

Born on 1st September, 1896 at Chembai Village to Parvati Ammal and Anantha Bhagavatar, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar belonged to a Tamil Brahmin family of Perakkool Madaom which is located adjacent to Lokanarkavu near Vadakara.  The family thereafter relocated to Kottayi village in the district of Palakkad. Bhagavatar’s family connection to classical music spans across five centuries. His father Anantha Bhagavatar was a violinist and singer to whom Maharaja had awarded the title of ‘Gana Chakraratnam’ for his speciality of musical rendition through a special closed mouth style of signing called tanam.  Anathan’s son Vaidyanathan started his early lessons in Carnatic music at a tender age of 3 under the tutelage of his father in the traditional guru-shishya Parampara. He also took lessons in violin and flute till 1912.

As years passed by Vaidyanathan’s voice grew more powerful and majestic.  Some of his awe-inspiring performances in his early years gave shape to his career that started with his arangetram at Ottapalam in 1904 at an age of 09.. His voice timber was noted for its unique depth and vibrance.  He gave innumerable performances between 1907 and 1927 most notably ones  at Vaikom and Guruvayoor in 1907 and thereafter at different music sabhas and festivals which included ones at Madras Music Academy and Jagannatha Bhakta Sabha.

Powerful singing style of Chembai caught public attention and his fame spread far and wide.  Music critic S. V. Seshari@Aeolus described him as, ‘the musician who has meant the most to Carnatic Music in the first fifty years of 20th Century’.  Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagawatar was a recipient of several titles and honours including the Madras Music Academy’s Sanageetha Kalanidhi in 1951 and Government of India’s Padma Shree in the year

One major incident in the year 1952 changed the course of Bhagwatar’s life.  One morning Chembai discovered that he had lost his voice and could not sing or chant his favourite diety Guruvayoorappan’s name.  His prayers seemed to have been answered by a stranger who appeared before him and provided treatment over a period of 18 days at the residence of Nilakantan Namboodiri in Poomallianmana. Chembai recovered his voice and returned to sing with renewed vigour and devotion for Lord Guruvayoorappan and also donated significant proportion of his earning for Guruvayoor temple.

Resonance and depth in Chembai’s voice was the hallmark of a great Carnatic vocalist who was unquestioned king during his times.  His vigorous, strong, vibrant and ringing voice  was  clear, open-throated which required high levels of physical and mental endurance.  Bhagwathar with his sheer practice and dedication sang in a seemingly effortless manner.  He also had a unique sense of kala pramana (time measure) while singing.  He could do niraval and swaraprastara from any given point  which aptly displayed his mental alertness during a concert. 

Chembai Home

Chemabi whole heartedly gave encouragement to upcoming musicians.  He popularised several Carnatic compositions including Pavana Guru and Rakshamam Saranagatam.  His prominent disciples included stalwarts like K. J. Yesudas, P. Leela, K. G. Vijayan, V. V. Subramanyan, T. V. Gopalakrishnan, Guruvayoor Ponnammal, Mangu Thampuran and Chembai Narayana Bhagvatar. He also mentored many aspiring accompanists who included Palakkad Mani Iyer, Lalgudi Jayaraman,M. S. Gopalakrishnan, T. N. Krishnan and L. Subramaniam.

Padma Bhushan

Chembai’s music career spanned several decades. Glory of his singing finds testimony is the statements of stalwarts of music who showered him with praises for his strengths and his unique rendition techniques. 

Sangeetha Kalanidhi G. N. Balasubramaniam is said to have remarked "These are not ordinary men. These are the Asuras of the music field. If I sing one concert, I need to rest the whole of next day". 

Legendary percussionist Pudukkottai Dakshinamurthy Pillai would call him "Laya Brahma" for his impeccable grasp of tala and laya.

Sangeetha Kalanidhi K. V. Narayanaswamy has also remarked on Chembai's ability to hold notes aligned perfectly to sruti for extended intervals of time.

During his career, Chembai also helped popularize songs written by his friend T. G. Krishna Iyer of Thripunithara.  Krishna Iyer had composed as many as 155 kritis in various languages including Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil anld Sanskrit and sought help of Chembai to popularise these songs set to Classical Carnatic style and published as Lalita Dasar Keetanangal. Chembai rendered these kritis which were later released as records. Some the gems include kritis like Evariki Telusunamma (Dhanyasi), Ennil Kaninda (Shankarabharanam), Pavana Guru (Hamsanandi), Varijadala Lochani (Arabhi) among others.  As a token of love for Chembai, T. G. Krishna Iyer offered his house in Chennai at Santhome on Palace Road, Chennai forms part of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagwatar’s heritage today.


During a performance at  concert at Poozhikunnu Sreekrishna Temple where he gave his debut performance, Chembai breathed his last on 16th October, 1974.  He was talking to his disciple Olappamanna Vasudevan Namboothiripad when Chembai collapsed and left for heavenly abode.  

Legacy of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagwatar remains alive in the village of Chembai known as Chembai gramam which today is a heritage village. Situated with the geographical limits of Kottayi in the district of Palakkad.  The place hosts the annual Chembai Parthasarathy Ekadasi Music festival in memory of the great singer in February/March. Renowned singers perform music concerts during the festival.  Year long events and programmes for promoting Classical Carnatic Music are held in this village.

Chembai Music Academy at Kottayi

In memory of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagawathar, Government Musical College in Palakkad has been renamed as 'Chembai Memorial Govt' Musical College’.  Initiatives of well wishers,  family members and followers of Chembai, the village of Chembai is set to become a heritage memorial village of South India that would attract connoisseurs of arts and music.  A cultural complex that can host bigger music festivals is being initiated with the support of the state government. 

Easy chair of Chembai placed in front of his home

It was a delightful experience to have visited Chembai Village located at Kottayi on Legendary Musician's Birthday. His family members accorded warm welcome and opened up the door of their home for me to walk around and breathe in the soul of music revaberating through the walls, doors and windows of Chembai's home.

©jpkallikkal 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

In Trance: Chottanikkara Bhagawathy temple

 Hinduism offers answers to innumerable cryptic puzzles of life that are very simple to observe but too complex to gauge through available information in the current scientific system of understanding and research. 1500 year old Chottanikkara Bhagawathy temple situated in the suburbs of Ernakulam in the state of Kerala carries forward the ancient system of ritual worship centred around Goddess Bhadrakali that untangles the web of paranormal and supernatural through mantric practices.  Precincts of this majestic temple exudes a distinct aura and energy field that follows a devotee in and around the temple.

God’s own country, Kerala can also be called a land of festivals, temples and rituals. During a recent visit to Kochi, I was impelled to visit Chottanikkara Bhagawati Kshetram, a powerful devi temple located at 9.9331° N, 76.3911° E, in the suburbs of Ernakulam. Believed to be more than 1500 year old, the temple carries a mystical force around its precincts that dwells around a devotee visiting the temple.

According to legend a forest dweller named Kannappan who practiced animal sacrifice lived in deep jungles where Chottanikkara temple exists today .   To please his ista devata (Bhadrakali or Durga) he used to sacrifice one beast each day. Eventually a day came when he had no animals left for sacrifice except his daughter’s pet calf but his daughter preferred to sacrifice her own life than her pet calf’s. It is then when Kannappan had a revelation and heard his ista devata’s voice which turned out to be the calf he was going to sacrifice. That day Kannappan realized the ultimate truth of life.  The place where Kannappan sacrificed animals to please Bhadrakali eventually became the guruthi kalalm of keezkavu at Chottanikkara temple.  The place is believed to hold immense healing powers that can alleviate people haunted by supernatural spirits or those who are mentally deranged for whom modern medicine offers no answers.

Chottanikkara (Jyotikara) literally translates into ‘One who enlightens. Possessing unlimited powers through manifestation of Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, the temple is consecrated as a deity with multifarious manifestations of energy.  Worship of the deities in this temple is believed to cure even life-threatening diseases. The temple housed in a massive compound placed at two levels.  The higher level comprises of the primary sanctum sanctorum of Bhagavathy and Lord Vishnu besides other deities including Dharma Sastha, Siva, Brahma, Ganesha, Karikeya, Hanuman Swamy and the serpent gods (Nagas). The lower level houses the Keezhu Kavu where another temple of Bhadrakali exists beside a pond (mentioned earlier) where special Guruthi Poojas are conducted to cast away evil spirits out of people or from those who are believed to be possessed by supernatural forces often referred to by the medical fraternity as extreme cases of Schizophrenia or people with mental maladies to whom modern medicine does not offer any relief.

Original Idol of Devi in the main temple is consecrated in irregular shaped red laterite stone that is believed to be ‘svayambhu’ or self-revealed. However, temple priests decorate the idol in elaborate jewels or Gold Kavacha for general darshan.  However, in the mornings, the idol is draped in white saree representing Saraswati, a bright red saree at noon representing Mahalakshmi and in a blue saree in the evening to represent Mahakali or Durga.

The Chottanikkara Bhagavathy amman (goddess) and the Keezhu Kaavu Bhadrakali amman are worshipped as the healing goddesses.  Interestingly, in Hindu faith, Bhadakali is believed to be the patron goddess of exorcism.  Thus, this temple is a unique blend in shakti worship, which gives a visitor a glimpse of the paranormal activities manifesting in the region through some of the devotees. The temple also has an ancient ‘Pala’ tree (Alstonia scholaris) which has hundreds of iron nails implanted by devotees using their foreheads, who have been cured of possession by malevolent spirits.  The tree is a testimony to the miraculous healing through pooja and darshan at this temple, a fact that can be verified through the rising number of devotees to this temple with passage of time.

Considering the large number of devotees who bring in their relatives suffering from psychosomatic conditions or Schizophrenia at this temple, makes me believe that this temple is indeed a space that exhibits a higher level of energy that makes exorcism, a science that needs more research and understanding. The above stated medical condition is managed through a ritual called  Guruthi Pooja at Keezh Kaavu pond.  The arena transforms into a supernatural location each evening, where a ritual Guruthi (ritualistic sacrifice) involving chanting of divine verses and offerings in the form of pots (12 in number) is performed using a mixture of turmeric and lime that transforms into a blood red liquid representing sacrificial blood to the Devi.  The sight is certainly not for the faint hearted and can be quite disturbing too, as innumerable devotees suffering from mental issues can be seen turning hysterical during Guruthi pooja oblivious to the presence of other devotees.

Amidst the screaming, wailing and laugher it is a stark silence that makes the entire event leave an indelible mark in the mind of a visitor.  I was alarmed to see a 20 year old looking girl turn hysterical in front of me.   A pretty girl of about 5’2 in height, a body and attire that reflected affluence but a mind that had lost sense of the real.  She had abruptly starting shaking her hands fiercely and an eerie laugher emanated from her lips.  I tried to take my eyes away but my head kept moving to witness her condition.  She was laughing and crying at the same time.  Her relatives (perhaps her father) tried to hold her to prevent any injury but suddenly adjacent to her, another woman started shaking her body violently, as if a chain of hysterical confusion had been set to motion in the arena. The entire place seemed to be in possession of some super natural spirit!

Personally, I find myself to be a believer who tends to tread the path of rationality and scientific temper. A visit to the temple was an eye opener to the fact that supernatural energy and vibrations do affect our physical and mental faculties.  Scientists offer many theories to such occurrences. In Florence, Italy, there have been instances in the early 19th Century when people have been found to faint while taking in Florentine art.  This was later named as ‘Florence Syndrome’ in 1979 by Italian psychiatrist Graziella Magherini who observed over a hundred similar cases among tourists. Similar is the experience of several visitors to the city of Jerusalem who are said to get afflicted by a syndrome which was regarded as a form of hysteria referred to as "fièvre Jérusalemienne".   

I would not call this a ‘Chottanikkara syndrome’, as we Indians have our own treatise on spiritualism, occult sciences and temple rituals.  Our Vedas have deep discourses on aspects that cannot even be in the line of vision of modern sciences.  It seems as if the Vedas begin from where scientific research ends its dissertation.  Modern medical sciences offer tangible solutions and remedies to innumerable physical and mental diseases but there are a million other ailments that do not have any scientific answers. Spirituality and temple darshans are perhaps the only succour left in situations where medical fraternity asks humans to have faith in God!

Chottanikkara Bhagawati temple is indeed a temple to be in, if you wish to get into a state of trance and charge your metaphysical energies.  Irrespective of your scientific understanding, do attend the Guruthy ritual that will make you realize that life is truly precious. I believe, Hinduism offers answers to innumerable cryptic puzzles of life, in forms and representations that are very simple to observe but too complex to gauge through knowledge  available in the current scientific systems of understanding and research.


Date of Visit: 28 June, 2022

Thursday, February 11, 2021

About my father Shri Mannil Krishnan by Mannil Vikraman

മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണനെ അറിയുന്ന ഞാൻ  
എന്റെ ബാല്യകാല സ്മരണകളിൽ അവധിക്കെത്തുന്ന കൃഷ്ണേട്ടയാണ് ഇന്നും. പ്രൗഢഗംഭീരമായ നടത്തവും കൃശഗാത്രനാണെങ്കിലും തലയെടുപ്പോടെയുള് കുശലാന്വേഷണങ്ങളും അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ മാറ്റുകൂട്ടിയിരുന്നു. ഭാരത തലസ്ഥാനത്ത്‌ ഭരണയന്ത്രം നിലകൊള്ളുന്ന സെക്രട്ടറിയേറ്റിൽ ഗതാഗത മന്ത്രാലയത്തിലായിരുന്നു ഉദ്യോഗം. അവധിക്കു നാട്ടിലെത്തുന്ന എല്ലാ വർഷവും പുതുമയേറിയ പല ഉപകരണങ്ങളും കൊണ്ടുവന്നു തറവാട്ടിൽ പ്രദർശിപ്പിക്കാറുണ്ട്‌. തറവാട്ടിലെ മറ്റംഗങ്ങളെ അവരുടെ വീടുകൾ സന്ദർശിച്ച് വിശേഷങ്ങൾ അന്വേഷിക്കാറു പതിവാണ്. ഉദ്യോഗത്തിനായി നാടുവിട്ടശേഷം അദ്ദേഹത്തെ ഞാൻ കാണുന്നത് ന്യൂഡൽഹിയിൽ വെച്ചായിരുന്നു. അവിടെ അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ അനൗദ്യോഗിക കർമമണ്ഡലം എന്നെ വിസ്‌മ യിപ്പിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ ഡൽഹി ആർ.കെ.പുരത്തെ അയ്യപ്പ ക്ഷേത്രത്തിന്റെ മൂലസ്ഥാനമായ മുനീർക്കയിൽ അയ്യപ്പ വിഗ്രഹം പ്രതിഷ്ഠ നടന്നത് മുതൽ ഇന്ന് കാണുന്ന ക്ഷേത്രത്തിന്റെ വളർച്ചക്ക് കാരണഭൂതരായവരിൽ മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണന്റെ പങ്കു വളരെ വലുതാണ്.

മുനീർക്കയിൽ നിന്ന് ആർ.കെ.പുരം സെക്ടർ II ലേക്ക് അയ്യപ്പ ക്ഷേത്രം മാറ്റാനുള്ള പ്രത്യേക കാരണം ഇന്ദിര ഗാന്ധി പ്രഖ്യാപിച്ച എമെർജൻസിയും തുടർന്ന് സഞ്ജയ് ഗാന്ധിയുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തിൽ നടന്ന പുറമ്പോക്ക് സ്ഥലം ഏറ്റെടുക്കലും ആയിരുന്നു. അന്ന് ശ്രീകോവിൽ മാത്രം നിലനിർത്തി ക്ഷേത്ര മതിൽക്കെട്ടുകൾ തകർത്തിരുന്നത് ഞാൻ കണ്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്. ഈ ഘട്ടത്തിൽ മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണൻ കൂടി അടങ്ങുന്ന സംഘം മന്ത്രിയെ സന്ദർശിച്ചു ഇന്ന് ക്ഷേത്രം നിലനിൽക്കുന്ന സ്ഥലം അനുവദിച്ചു മേടിക്കുകയായിരുന്നു. യേശുദാസിന്റെ ഗാനമേളകൾ നടത്തിയും സമൂഹത്തിലെ ഉന്നതരായ വ്യക്തികളുടെ സഹായ സഹകരണങ്ങൾ കൊണ്ടുമാണ് ഇന്ന് കാണുന്ന അയ്യപ്പ ക്ഷേത്രം സാക്ഷാത്കരിക്കപ്പെട്ടതു. മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണൻ എന്ന വ്യക്തിയുടെ ത്യാഗത്തിന്റെ ഒരു ചെറിയ ഉദാഹരണം ഇവിടെ കുറിക്കട്ടെ. യേശുദാസിന്റെ ഗാനമേളക്കായി തയ്യാറാക്കിയ നോട്ടീസ് INA market ലെ printing pressil നിന്ന്തലച്ചുമടായി കിദ്വായ് നഗറിലുള്ള അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ വീട്ടിലേക്ക് എത്തിച്ചത് ഞാനും അദ്ദേഹവും ചേർന്നാണ്. നോട്ടീസ് വിതരണവും മഹാരാഷ്ട്ര രംഗായൻ എന്ന ഗാനമേള ഹാളിന്റെ വാതിൽക്കൽ ടിക്കറ്റ് കീറാനും ഞങ്ങൾ ഉണ്ടായിരുന്നു. അയ്യപ്പൻ പാട്ടിനുള്ള ഉടുക്കും കണ്യാർകളിക്കുള്ള ഡ്രസ്സ്, ഇലത്താളം എന്നിവ നാട്ടിൽ വന്നു വാങ്ങിച്ചു ഡൽഹിയിലേക്ക് കൊണ്ടുപോകുന്നത് ഞാൻ കണ്ടിട്ടുണ്ട്.

ഡൽഹിയിലെ തെരുവീഥിയിലൂടെ ആനകളെ എഴുന്നള്ളിച്ചു പഞ്ചവാദ്യസമേതം ഉത്സവംനടത്തിയത് മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണന്റെയും കൂടി പരിശ്രമഫലമായാണ്. അയ്യപ്പൻ പാട്ടു പാടുന്നതിൽ ഇന്നും ഈ എൺപതു കഴിഞ്ഞ വ്യക്തി വിട്ടുവീഴ്ച കാണിക്കാറില്ല.അയ്യപ് ക്ഷേത്രത്തിലെ വൈസ് പ്രസിഡണ്ടായും ,സെക്രട്ടറിയായും പ്രവർത്തിച്ച മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണൻ കണ്ണ്യാർ കളിയിലും തന്റെ മികവ് തെളിയിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. ദൂരദർശനിൽ കണ്ണ്യാർ കളി അവതരിപ്പിക്കാൻ അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ ശ്രമവും നേതൃത്വവും ഞാൻ അടക്കമുള്ളവർക്കും ആ കലക്കും ഒരു പ്രോത്സാഹനമായിരുന്നു. സ്വന്തം ജന്മ നാടിനെയും അദ്ദേഹം സ്നേഹിച്ചിരുന്നു. പലരെയും നാട്ടിൽ നിന്ന് ഡൽഹിയിൽ എത്തിച്ചു വരുമാന മാർഗ്ഗം തേടി കൊടുത്തിട്ടുണ്ട്. അതിനുള്ള ഒരു ഉത്തമ ഉദാഹരണമാണ് ഡൽഹി അയ്യപ്പക്ഷേത്രത്തിലെ ഗുരുസ്വാമിയായിരുന്ന അന്തരിച്ച ആന്തൂരെ വീട്ടിൽ രാജഗോപാലൻ എന്ന ഗോപാലേട്ട.

 നാട്ടിലെ കണ്യാർ കളിക്കുള്ള ഉടയാടകൾക്കു വേണ്ടി ഡൽഹിയിലെ സുഹൃത്തുക്കളിൽനിന്നു ഫണ്ട് ശേഖരിച്ചു നൽകാറുണ്ട്. ഡൽഹി അയ്യപ്പ ക്ഷേത്രത്തിന്റെ സ്ഥാപക നേതൃത്വത്തിൽ ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന തല മുതിർന്ന വ്യക്തിയാണ് മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണൻ. ആരവങ്ങളില്ലാതെ നിശ്ശബ്ദനായി സ്വന്തം ആരോഗ്യപ്രശ്നങ്ങളെപ്പോലും അവഗണിച്ചുകൊണ്ട് ഇന്നും പ്രവർത്തിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന ഈ അയ്യപ്പ ഭക്തന് ഡൽഹിയിലെ മലയാളി പൗരാവലിയുടെ അർഹമായ അംഗീകാരം ലഭിച്ചുവോ എന്ന് ഞാൻ സംശയിക്കുന്നതിനോടൊപ്പം ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ ക്ഷേത്ര ഭാരവാഹികളെ ഓർമ്മപെടുത്താനും ഞാൻ ഈ സന്ദർഭം പ്രയോജനപ്പെടുത്തുന്നു. പാലക്കാട് നെന്മാറക്കടുത്തുള്ള തിരുവഴിയാട് എന്ന കൊച്ചു ഗ്രാമത്തിൽ മണ്ണിൽ തറവാട്ടിലാണ് ജനനം. സുന്ദരി എന്ന് വിളിപ്പേരുള്ള അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ ഭാര്യ വടക്കഞ്ചേരി കള്ളിക്കൽ തറവാട്ടിലേതാണ്. യാദൃശ്ചികമായി എന്റെ അച്ഛന്റെ തറവാടും അതുതന്നെ. രണ്ടു മക്കൾ ജയപ്രകാശ് കള്ളിക്കൽ , ജയശ്രീ. മകളായ ജയശ്രീയും കൊച്ചുമകളുമൊന്നിച്ചു ഗുഡ്ഗാവിൽ ഭാര്യാസമേതം വിശ്രമജീവിതം നയിക്കുന്നു. 

മണ്ണിൽ കൃഷ്ണൻ എന്ന ഞങ്ങളുടെ കൃഷ്ണേട്ടക്കും, അദ്ദേഹത്തിന്റെ സഞ്ചാരപഥങ്ങളിൽ എന്നും തുണയായി നിൽക്കുന്ന ധർമ്മ പത്നിക്കും ആയുരാരോഗ്യങ്ങൾ നൽകി അയ്യപ്പ സ്വാമി അനുഗ്രഹിക്കാൻ പ്രാർത്ഥിച്ചുകൊണ്ട്,

 മണ്ണിൽ വിക്രമൻ

Thursday, January 14, 2021





Life is cryptic. Each circumstance threads out into multiple situations. Some sense it as opportunities for self-benefit for others it ends up in inaction. Human relationships can be complex layers of emotions bundled into behavioral patterns reflected from time to time. Moods, responses and reactions are prone to changes, degrees of which differ from person to person. On one end of the spectrum is hyper sensitivity and on the other end of it cold, frozen inertia.
God destines us to come in contact with souls who through their fortitude endure our actions that could be little known to us. It implies that people without their conscious knowledge can be a cause of hurt or harm to others or they can be an everlasting source of wisdom and happiness too.

Sentiments, ego and reactions interweave our thoughts, gestures and attitude. However the faith reposed on us by another person is required to take on the test of time and situations before being cut bare open to introspection.  Each soul is a fresh whiff of breeze. There is always a greeting and welcome on their arrival or a sting of sadness in their goodbyes. Some leave our garden scented with their cheer yet some others leave a trail of agony and sorrow for us to endure.
Each slap of wind is a memory; each gap of silence is a cry, each moment of knowing a longing and in each moment of good bye you belong.  You would turn a stranger today. While the gush of winds blow in more rains with ferocity. Somewhere distant, I hear a silent sob. I wonder if it is your silence that seethes in pain or my thoughts that reverberates it back.

Of course, I do care.  I know the wind can never be unknown to me or the rain drops. Neither the Earth, that breaks away from under my feet today that would erase your memories.
It would only be the adios which shall remain an unsung song.




It is not just the imposing red brick building but the sheer steel and unseen human soul hidden in the insides of this reverent temple of learning that beckons me once again towards it where I spent twelve precious years of questioning, introspection and education.
Nearly three decades have passed since I used to sit perched on one of these benches trying to unravel a future for myself figuring out the intricacy of platonic integrations, geometric progressions of spiraling days, dissecting anatomies of life and mimicking the pure delight of angelic poems that were rendered with such urgency that I could never imagine in my wildest dreams that I would be scribbling some by myself one day!


Massive sprawl of green foliage hiding rows of non-descript yellow single storied structures with arched front in the Canning Lane of LB (Lutyens Bunglow) Zone were our primary class rooms. I would hear gallops of the marching regiment, a cavalry that was perhaps kept safely leashed in some the stables many years ago by the British.

Tiny little brown desks and benches; Damp moist odor of wood and a fresh smell of Earth. Exotic green nuts oozing milky syrup that would be crushed with stones its tender insides that tasted like almonds to be eaten bare. The swarming flocks of Eagles and vultures that would swoop down on our lunch boxes during noon. Melodious notes from the air filled bags of Scottish pipers that I later found were the armed bands practicing their regimental numbers are little specks of memories from the period that I still carry in my head.

With passing time the old structures started crumbling and we braved the rains, heat and the fury of winter in the make shift tents where we grew up learning logic of sane learning, joyous sharing and a sweet fanciful adolescent years of secondary school time.
Beads of sweat, austere leanings and sincere toils saw us shift into gleaming new class rooms. Islands of earthly natured pupils in silence had with time transformed into cities of fortified passions. Some harangued and debated most complex aspects of social and political anarchy prevalent in other parts of the globe while some others had astoundingly sharp scientific temper that would put seasoned scientists to test. There were yet others during our senior secondary school years who would take up challenges of an alien civil crowd on board Delhi Transport Corporation buses fiercely fighting for the safety of their school mates outside school hours.


Sweet and tangy taste of our brush with destiny of a warm school time start and ends at its gates that was what we thought when the farewell happened.
Today, I find the list of distinguished people who have passed out from the school is endless. After decades of separation, sincere warmth and a unique camaraderie still binds all of us. But for the memories, our school days are like shadows that grow longer with each passing day. Memories are all about that, aren’t they? And What are memories without schools? (Class of 84)


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Stranger in the mirror


I wonder if you ever imagined sharing stories with strangers of destiny!

No? On ,A train Journey? It would have been an incredible stranger.  No. Not a train Journey. I was talking of a Life Journey. A journey, when each individual, who matters to you, wishes to open up a path before you. A path you think never exists!  A train journey is a moment; A life journey into eternity.

An eternity to dream your fantasies, feel your heart beats and breathe life. You may be living in a finite world yet your thoughts take you through a virtual journey. The words that the stranger whispers, just wafts over and takes flight. They sometimes crawl, sometimes run, sometimes stop but they do sail long distances.

You know what? I always wished, I could share stories with unknown people. How naïve I was. I thought no one would understand my story. So, I started listening to their stories. I heard them for years and found their stories were same as my story but the plot was different every time. So was theme, the actors, the settings but each stranger had a story to tell. Story of their journeys
What is life? An incredible mix of surreal happenings interspersed with the karma of the present and bhagya or destiny that your future holds?  I would rather say life is like meeting that stranger on a highway, depends whether you give him a lift or just speed away your way.

Each moment can be turned into a profound experience or they can be suppressed to happen the way they are happening. Let them keep happening but you need to steer them to a certain extent onto a chosen direction. Each day can be a story of your struggle, achievement or failure but giving a personal fillip to your actions can make your story slightly different from what you perceive and realize.

What the stranger whispers could be what your heart echoes too!
But you need to travel. The incredibility of the stranger would dawn upon you once your heart gets the answers. Answers to the riddle called life. So let a new Journey begin. You will soon realize the stranger of destiny is your reflection in the mirror that knows your heart better than what your face sees on it.

Today, I looked up myself in the mirror but was surprised to see a stranger smiling at me.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Lost in Capital


Delhi used to be a shining hub of Music, Culture and Art Festivals till a few decades ago.  Un-regulated growth, pollution and negativity is today gnawing up the very roots. Owing to altered security scenario and priorities, Delhi has transformed from being a cultural paradise in the past to a painful reminder of what decay would mean to a creative mind.


The name Delhi evokes different responses in the minds of people from all over the globe.  For some it is today one of the most populous and polluted capitals in the world.  Yet, Delhi used to be a clean and green city that was the hub of music, culture and art celebrations till a few decades ago.  Its carefully manicured heart, sprawled with green vistas and fruit bearing trees, found mention amongst the best cities in the world.

Hailing from an agrarian backdrop in Palakkad, Kerala, destiny brought me to Delhi in my early years. Transgressing the borders of time and stuck deep in a quagmire of professional compulsions, I am today fondly reminded of a time when they city was relaxed, event filled and harmonious in existence.

Deep Purple, Sting, Bruce Spingsteen, Bryan Adams, Peter Gaberiel, Tracy Chapman, Boney M, Bangles could be sounding as some big and respected names in Rock music but all of them have performed in Delhi and I have been able to attend the concerts.  While Beatles and Abba were taking the world by storm, Delhi silently decked up after ASIAD of 1982 to host some of the most memorable Rock Concerts which were mostly held in Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium that could hold capacity crowds (75000), Talkatora Stadium or Indraprastha Indoor Stadium in Delhi. Delhi used to have its own editions of Rock Festivals, Jazz events and Pop performances spread over several days.

Africa Live was one such concert that I vividly remember attending.  The program started at about 5 in the evening and went on live for more than 12 hours showcasing some of the best in International Music.   

Siri Fort Auditorium at Khel Gaon Marg has been another venue that hosted memorable events. Few of live events I could witness at this venue are: Bolshoi Ballet from Russia, French opera Carmen, Jagjit Singh Live and several other Ghazal, Thumri and sufi music performances. Siri Fort used to be a regular venue that hosted the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) with film shows spread across various film halls in Delhi. I invariably made it a point to attend these festivals year after year, till it IFFI was moved out to Goa.

Spirit of India concerts enabled me to witness and follow the most of the Indian Classical Masters Live in Delhi through 1980s. Memorable performances included ones from Pt. Jasraj (Vocal- Hindustani), Ustad Bismilla Khan (Shehnai), Pt. Bhimsen Joshi (Flute), Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (Sarod), Zakir Hussain (Tabla), Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma (Santoor), BalaMurali Krishna (Classical Carnatic) and several other stalwarts of those times.

Dance scene in Delhi was no different. Performances of dance maestros dotted the cultural calendar of the capital through the year.  Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and most regional dance forms from across India found their footprints in the Capital. Yamini Krishnamurty, Uma Sharma and several other distinguished dancers performed in Delhi. Folk, rural and ethnic dance forms too visited the capital to showcase their performances before the crowds.

International Dance troupes too made their presence felt in Delhi through programs arranged by ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations).  Russia, France, Germany, Japan and host of other nations showcased their arts and culture in the Capital.  I would invariably keep my diary filled by keeping track of the events and ensuring attendance.

New Delhi also had a rich cultural milieu. Year long celebrations of Art, Theatre, Films and Folk arts were primary to its vibrant existence.  Each year the cultural calendar of Delhi was marked with numeral national and international events.

National and International Book fairs, Handicraft Fairs, Dance Festivals, painting exhibitions, Food, and a string of national and international events kept date with Delhi. Yearly International Trade Fairs at sprawling Trade Fair grounds, Food and craft fairs at Dilli Haat, Spiritual, Devotional and Sports events that included Marathons, International Sporting events like (Asiad, Commonwealth Games) kept Delhi a hot place to be living and enjoying one’s life.

However, changing security scenario and VIP culture has dampened cultural scene of Delhi.  Heavy handed interference of civil and police administration into arrangement and conduct of such events made organizers wary of choosing Delhi a venue for big events. Many International Rock groups have moved away from Delhi to Bengaluru and Mumbai owing to negative crowd response and organizing woes.  To top it, I notice that the general population of Delhi has tilted away from the dynamics of understanding the minute aspects of other cultures. They are either indifferent to the performances or fail to catch the true essence of such events.

Today crowds of Delhi have become too noisy and ill behaved, compared to earlier years and other venues. From being known as the Cultural Capital of India, Delhi is today having a dubious distinction of being called the Crime Capital of India.  Forts, Mausoleums and Minarets stand mute to the change that has taken place here. Wide tree sprawled roads are today constricted with traffic. Air quality remains extremely poor throughout the year and seasons are playing truant making it difficult to organize or attend such events.

A tourist’s paradise and a shining example of being the National Capital, Delhi is today greying inside out.  Rapid expansion of roads and buildings, Mindless growth of population, vehicular traffic has transformed this city into a big maze of confusion devoid of aesthetics and harmony.  To add to its woes Covid 19 has battered the city like never before.  I wonder, if we could ever have the days that have passed us by in the capital city of India. Delhi would be dug up even further through its heart with Central Vista being re-designed and constructed.  It is perhaps too late for Delhi to return and reignite the spark of the past.  History may be made and recast but as a sensitive admirer of culture, traditions and arts, my angst at witnessing a Delhi losing its soul is a painful experience.

I had wanted to stay on in Delhi forever to savor its multi-cultural diversity and ethos but greed, one one-upmanship and material compulsions has torn open the divide among its citizens.  Un-regulated growth, pollution, politics and negativity is today gnawing up the very roots of this once proud city. Beyond being a power broker’s den, Delhi may never regain its cultural sanity or clean air. If Delhi is to be saved, it is time that the capital is shifted out from here, along with bag and baggage of those citizens, who continue to live and die here each day without feeling any remorse to the slow and painful death this city is going through each day.

I feel lost in the Capital today, do you, too?


Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What awaits us in 2021?


Covid 19 has shattered our beliefs and altered the way we view our life. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, ‘A vaccine on its own will not end the pandemic, it will compliment the other tools we have, not replace them’.  Which means in the near future we are back to a state of uncertainty, in terms of complete immunity from the virus.

The year 2020 has already spelled doom to many individuals, businesses and economies.  It has been a year of depression for stock market and people who reposed their faith in science.  Never in the history of human evolution did such confusion arise out a strain of virus potent enough to spread so quickly and kill at will.  Medical fraternity has been on its edge trying to cope with the pandemic that has spread all over globe at such a quick pace. While front line health workers have been stretched beyond limits, hospitals have certainly been overwhelmed with cases that have spilled out beyond earmarked capacities.  Covid-19 as a pandemic has been a bane and boon for those in the medical field.  While on one hand Medical fraternity has been pressed to the edge trying to cope up with pressure on systems and people for spreading out treatment and resolution, on the other a hope hinged on developing an effective vaccine is already underway.  In fact a strategic approach for production and distributing the vaccine has already begun. While other business sectors have faced the brunt of lost businesses, medicine as business has already flourished due to the pandemic which can be termed as a boon.

We have already seen that different countries have coped up with the pandemic in its unique ways.  While countries such as United States and Spain that bore the initial brunt of the pandemic saw huge number of deaths in the first wave, Asian, African and many other countries have handled the pandemic in their own unique ways.  While the primary strategy has been to find, isolate and rehabilitate, more populous countries have found this route tedious, time consuming and resource exhausting. It is generally seen that majority of those infected have been able to come out of the infection without major complications with medications in hand.  In fact traditional and local medicines have been able to help the patients overcome the initial discomfort and illness associated with the disease, however efficacy of the vaccine being developed in different countries would be marker to the future of this pandemic.

There are those who believe this pandemic is man-made, there are others who link it to greed of human civilization and the curse of nature on its exploitation.  Still there are others who believe that this pandemic has been a ploy by certain powers to re-mark territories and to strategize global economic hotlines of future. On a closer introspection we can see that the pandemic has opened up a pandora’s box of questions for the future of each individual, nation and Earth as a sustainable eco system for survival of humans.

We also see that different countries have employed different standards of safety and strategies to deal with the pandemic.  While many such methods touch upon policing, public health safety, resource mobilization and spread, impetus has been to keep the wheels of economies moving despite red flags on the health front.  On a broad spectrum it is seen that while in many countries where parameters of health were of extremely high standards, pandemic overwhelmed their systems and they saw large number of deaths.  Poorer countries with less well developed health systems and larger populations saw huge infections but lesser number of fatalities.  This could be because the virus overwhelmed people who had high life standards but a lower immunity levels compared to individuals who were exposed to wider array of infections.   However the scare owing to the pandemic is yet to see its true peak.  While for richer nations, it has been diversion of resources and greater allocations to health sector to deal with the pandemic, for poorer nations it is doing their best by prioritizing budgets for allocations for providing food and medical support to the affected sections of population.

While researches are on to come out with an effective vaccine against this virus, studies are on to understand long term effects of the virus on human bodies.  Science which had developed so much over the years and had become invincible is today faced with the dilemma of having to face the threat caused by a set of invisible viruses that are playing up on human bodies as a disease and on human minds as a grim reminder of us being mortal humans!

Perhaps it is the first time in human history when places of worship were closed down, people were prohibited from meeting their own and dead bodies cremated without the loved ones attending the services.  Death literally came cheap and hospital treatment has eroded the finances of millions and a question mark has risen over future of human civilization in the in event of more such viruses surfacing in the air.         

This Pandemic is proving that human beings have not forgotten to smile despite threat of death hovering over its heads.  The will of human minds to overcome adversities and join hands to forge alliances is visible yet at the same time divisions ingrained in political and geographic boundaries have more than once exposed the chinks that can derail the progress on humankind as a society.  Covid 19 may be in the air for a long time and take us along into 2021 but not before it alters psyches of individuals and societies towards each other, health and finances.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Hybrid Film Festival


Hybrid Film Festivals


Films convey stories from most diverse geographical regions.  They become a fine tool that tide over geographical and language boundaries to portray events and voice out significant aspects of human endeavor and culture.   Film Festivals thus turn into a vital link that bridges distances and touch core aspects of human mind processes and emotions.   Each year a number of film festivals are held across the world.  However this year, Covid 19 pandemic has drastically altered the way Film screenings and festivals are going to be conducted around the world this year and years to come till fears arising out of spread of novel covid 19 and other mutant viruses are put to rest.

Hybrid literally means a mix and in terms of Film Festival being termed Hybrid, it would in reality mean a mix of real theatre screening with an admixture of digital virtual screenings of movies and discussions thereof.  Today technology has empowered us to virtually cross over physical boundaries and be connected to each other through digital platforms.  Film Festivals are no exceptions.  Those finding favor with digital platforms would root for seamlessly crossing over to digital formats even for organizing Film festivals that could bring in a larger audience and become more inclusive event than conventional festivals.

Perhaps the earliest festival to try out the Hybrid form was the Locarno Festival in Switzerland which adopted a semi-virtual format.  Held in the town on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the Italian speaking region of Southern Switzerland the 73rd Festival held between 5th and 15th  August 2020 was switched to a hybrid format with films and filmic content made available online.  It is estimated that about 5950 people saw films in Locarno Indoor cinemas and about 320000 visits were made on festivals digital platform where full length films, short films, panel discussions and talks were made available online.

45th Edition of the Toronto Film Festival is implementing a hybrid film festival in the month of September, 2020. The edition will combine physical and online screenings with upto 50 features and five short programmes. Digital screenings, interactive talks and Q&A sessions have been planned besides  a drive in format ensuring physical distancing.

Cinefest Sudbury in Ontario, Canada too is expected to be a Hybrid festival scheduled between 19th and 27th September, 2020.  Ontario movie theaters are allowing 50 people per screening.  The organizers are hoping that local film makers and producers would be appearing in person and the industry could take part in the event online.

64th Edition of BFI London scheduled through October 7th 18th, 2020 too has pivoted towards a Hybrid version with introduction of Audience Choice Awards this year owing to Covid 19. The festival is planning a 50 virtual festival premiers with upto 12 previews of upcoming films that will be screened across the UK.  In a marked change from earlier versions, audiences are expected to replace the festival’s official jury and will vote on audience awards in four categories that will include fiction feature, documentary featue, short film and XR (extended reality).  Awards will be announced in a live virtual ceremony on the final weekend of the festival .  The full programme of the festival will be launched on 8th September, 2020.  Sundance Film Festival,  Raindance Festival and a number of other Festivals are expected to be on the Hybrid mode this year. In view of Covid 19 pandemic, India too is expected to host a 'Hybrid' International Film Festival in the month of November this year.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Story of our Loom


Today is National Handloom Day.  Swadeshi  Movement was launched on this very day i.e.  7th August, 1905. Handloom reflects the glorious traditions of Indian Textile Industry and an era of self reliance in the area of garment production and fashion.  History is replete with instances of Indian textiles occupying high demand within Indian borders and far across the oceans. Handloom is also a significant source of livelihood which holds capacity to empower artisans associated with the profession.  It is estimated that 70% of all handloom weavers and allied workers in India are women.  However, being a household activity and entrenched in rural backgrounds, imperfect and often cheap imitations through power looms and illegal inroads through mills have brought this sector into a state of slow decay and death.

I belong to Kerala and hail from the district of Palakkad. For several centuries handloom weaves from the Villages of Kollengode, Chittoor, Devangapuram, Kallanchira, Neelikkad and Karimpuza in this district have been great demand.  In the pre-Independent India dress material including sarees, dhoties, towels and cloth lengths were weaved and marketed to rest of Kerala and other princely states from this district.  However, post independent India saw weavers joining hands and pooling resources into cooperatives to run these handloom centers.  However, piling up losses and lack of income in the profession led youth from these villages to move away from this profession and its slow death.

Today we see that polyester, artificial yarn and multitude of textile materials have emerged across the world as viable medium of fabric.  However the ‘comfort and breathe’ factor of handloom can never be equated with any alternate textile material.  Use of hand looms in weaving spectacular patterns not just enable large sections of labour to be gainfully employed in this profession but also props up local creative talents in design setting, pattern development and manual colour coding.  Use of local motifs, shades and designs sublimely carry the flavor of its local community into the hearts of textile users.

India sits on a treasure trove of indigenous cultural richness.  Each state in this country has its unique tradition and contribution in handloom weaving.  Ikat from Odhisha, Bandhani (tie and dye), Patan Patola from Gujarat, Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh, Brocades of Uttar Pradesh, Zari works from Madhya Pradesh, Kancheevaram from Tamil Nadu, Kantha stitches from West Bengal, Kosa from Chattisgarh, Kunbi from Goa, Lepcha from Sikkim, Pachaculi from Uttarakhnd, Pachra from Tripura, North East Weaves prominent from Mizoram, Nagaland apart from multitudes of patterns, styles and textures like sambhalpuri, Muga, Maheshwari, chanderi and Khadi makes India a well defined centre from Handlooms.

Yet the real story of handlooms can be seen from the dwindling number of families engaged in this profession.  Surveys show that while 124 lakh weaver families were engaged in this profession in 1970s their numbers reduced to 64 lakhs in 1995 and it dwindled further down to 44 lakhs in 2010.  The narrative of Policy vs production techniques have seriously impacted handlooms in our country. While introduction of standard yarn into our country in the 1840s changed the course of handlooms, replacement of natural yarn with synthetic ones for use by power looms further played havoc with this segment. Global players and technology has further robbed local identities. Today artificial dyes coupled with computer controlled looms, churning out global designs and textures in a copy paste environment, has brought the entire economics of handlooms into a grinding halt.  No amount of protection or unique identification is able to save the handlooms from extermination from one roof global operators.

Need of the hour is identity ability to distinguish ‘real from an imitation’.  The responsibility of a buyer increases with the awareness of purchase of a real product not a cheap copy.  Price alone should not be a consideration for purchase but a larger emotional attachment with the product being bought.   Buying a Handloom product should be more than a symbolic gesture of helping a needy weaver but it should be a nationalist move to revive our rich culture and traditions of our nation by empowering our local talent and rural weavers.

 Story of our Loom would be incomplete without a simple picture of Charkha.  Time has come when we join hands to help the spirit of enterprise spread amongst the rural weaver folk and support weavers and handloom by buying truly hand woven fabrics made in our country.


                                                                       REUNION   The other day my wife broached upon the subject of scho...