Beemapalli Uroos : *******www.neelaearth****
Venue : Beemappalli Dargah Shareef, about 12 km southwest of Thiruvananthapuram city.
Date : September 12 to 22, 1999.
The Beemappalli Dargah Shareef is dedicated to Bee umma a pious Muslim lady endowed with extraordinary powers. Bee umma and her son who belong to the family of Prophet Mohammed are believed to have come here from Arabia centuries ago, to preach their religion Islam. The annual ten-day Uroos festival at Beemappalli is held in memory of Sayyidhathunisa Bee umma and her son Sayyidussaheed Maheen Aboobaker who are laid to rest here.
The festival began at 8.30 in the morning of September 12th with a prayer 'Dunha' led by the religious chief Imam Jauab Abdulla Razak Maulavi on the premises of the shrine. This was followed by a ceremonial procession. The following six days saw regular religious discourses and preachings in the evenings. From September 19 to 21st cultural programmes held in the evening hours added a festive mood to the shrine.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady : *******www.neelaearth****
Location: Near Kumili in Idukki district, central Kerala.
Killing is no crime here. Nor is there any guarantee for life. In forests, only the fittest survive. The video clip shows a successful but tragic hunting scene.
The pride of Kerala and a testimony to nature's splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar lake - an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grasslands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs.
In addition to elephant rides, cruises on the lake and treks to the ruined Mangaladevi temple - a beautiful old stone temple situated in the heart of the Thekkady forest, this sanctuary offers the unique opportunity to watch and photograph wild elephants at close quarters.
Kalarippayattu : *******www.neelaearth****
The video shows Kalarippayattu the mother of all the martial art forms in the world. An intricate blend of physical prowess, mindset, martial techniques and indigenous medical system, this form of armed close-quarter hand-to-hand encounter is unique to Kerala. In most other martial art forms using weapons the fighters use some form of armour to guard the chest, forearms and head. But in Kalarippayattu which uses the most lethal weapons there is no such protection. The Kalari fighter depends on his alertness, agility and the use of various steps and swift movements for attack and self defence. This video was shot at the C.V.N. Kalari, East Fort, Thiruvananthapuram, one of the prominent centres of Kalarippayattu in Kerala.
International Paragliding Festival - www.neelaearth****
It is a take off that most of us would not like to attempt. But once airborne the feeling takes a U-turn and one would feel reluctant to make a touch down. Such is the level of excitement and passion involved in the adventure sport of paragliding, and the event jointly organized by Adventure Sports and Sustainable Tourism Academy (AASTA) and Kerala Tourism at Vagamon, in the first week of April underscored this fact.
Take a look at the video of the month and reinvent your adventure spirits or at least savour some of the exciting moments of the event.
Pulikali - www.neelaearth****
A vibrant and colourful event, which is an integral part of Kerala's culture, Pulikali - meaning dance of the tiger continues to enthrall people belonging to all age groups in Kerala. During the annual festival of Onam, Pulikali performances can be witnessed in different parts of Kerala, with the district of Thrissur taking the lead in maximum number of performances.
The video of the month takes you to the Swaraj Ground in Thrissur town to witness the invasion of the tiger brigade. Performers of Pulikali undergo make-up that is time consuming and is also something that warrants patience. Men paint their bodies akin to that of a tiger. And in recent years, there has been modified forms of tiger make-up, in terms of design and colours.
During a typical course of performance, the tiger dancers in the presence of a hunter move with dance steps and resort to histrionics, while the percussion players add verve to the whole performance.
For more details please visit *******www.neela
Nelliyampathy, Palakkad : *******www.neelaearth****
Location: About 52 km from Palakkad town and about 9 km from Nenmara.
Altitude: 467 m to 1572 m above sea level.
Attractions: Aerial view of the mountain pass, waterfalls, dense forests and tea gardens, trekking etc.
A geographic paradise, Nelliyampathy on the high ranges of the Western Ghats, offers a stunning view of the Sholayar Pass lying deep down in a 20 mile stretch of velvet green. Certain hills especially Seethakundu of Nelliyampathy cease abrubtly to form cliffs overlooking the panoramic valley below. These ranges of the Ghats at an altitude of 467 m to 1572 m above sea level and the pass have a dominant influence on the climate of the region.
It is through this mountain pass that the monsoon clouds formed over the Arabian Sea after shedding rain in Kerala, move to the neighbouring State of Tamilnadu.
To reach Nelliyampathy one has to negotiate at least 10 hair-pin curves on the Ghat road, through the breath-taking evergreen forests of the Sahya
Yakshaganam : *******www.neelaearth****
Yakshagana is a popular dance-drama of the State of Karnataka. The classical dance-drama is also prevalent in Kasaragod, the northernmost district of Kerala.Performed as a temple art over the years, Yakshagana still forms an integral part of the cultural programmes presented during temple festivals in the Kasaragod region.
Yakshagana performers wear huge headgears, elaborate facial make-up,colourful costumes and ornaments which together give a superhuman appearance to the character presented. The themes of the plays are taken from the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
Usually the art form is presented in Kannada, though it is also performed in Malayalam as well as Tulu (the dialect of south Karnataka).The accompanying orchestra includes percussion instruments like chenda, maddalam,jagatta or chengila (cymbals) and chakratala or elathalam (small cymbals).
Veli Tourist Village - www.neelaearth****
This month, the hotspot we have featured for you is the Veli Tourist Village by the side of Veli, a beautiful lagoon. A popular picnic spot situated 8 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, the Veli Tourist Village has fish ponds, wading pools and landscaped gardens, along with facilities for boating and water sports. There is also a children’s park around the floating bridge that connects the village to the beach. Huge sculptures dotting the landscape are a favourite with kids.
Aranmula Vallamkali - www.neelaearth****
The annual water regatta of Aranmula Vallamkali, held at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala is a unique offering to the presiding deity at the Parthasarathy Temple in Aranmula. The water regatta comprises, well-decorated, majestic Palliyodams with about 80 oarsmen on each competing to the ecstatic cheer of the onlookers.
The video clip of the month features, some of the spectacular moments from the recently held boat race at Aranmula.
Mappila Khalasis : *******www.neelaearth****
What do you do when the best of hydraulic cranes fail to lift a wreck? Call the Mappila Khalasis, ofcourse! Where state-of-the-art machines fail, the 37 men Khalasi teams of Kozhikode in northern Kerala, work wonders with little more than a wooden pole fashioned into a `dower' or winch, leveraged by hawsers and pulleys. The Mappila Khalasis, originally employed in launching the more than 400 tonne Arab Dhows built at the Beypore docks, now specialise in hauling heavy wrecks.
The Mappila Khalasis have helped to construct many heavy projects like the Idukki Dam, the bridges at Feroke, Vadakkumbadu and Kallai, the Mahanadi bridge in Orissa and the Manganese factory at Goa. But with the decline in Dhow construction at Beypore, the younger generation of Khalasis are forced to seek other avenues of livelihood.
The Beypore port has always been an exclusive outlet for timber from Kerala. Teak from the Kerala forests was the choice of many seafaring people,
Bharananganam Church : www.neelaearth****
Now, the holy bells of Bharananganam St. Mary's Church ring with a unique pride. This grand old church, to where we take you for a video ride this month, has become world famous since it keeps the mortal remains of St. Alphonsa, the first woman saint from India. Already a popular pilgrim centre of south India, this church has won international prominence with the canonization of St. Alphonsa by the Pope on October 12, 2008.
The church is also known as Anakkallu Palli. Feast of the Blessed Alphonsa, held in the month of July, is the most important festival here. The church is located five kilometers from Pala, a town in Kottayam district.
Lakshadeepam at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple - www.neelaearth****
The video shows the Lakshadeepam at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram.
Lakshadeepam and Murajapam are conducted at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple once in six years. In Malayalam, Mura means Samhita of the Vedas. So the recitation or japam of the Samhitas is called Murajapam. The first Murajapam at the temple was conducted in 1520 and the custom has been continued ever since.
The Murajapam concludes on Makara Sankranthi Day with the Lakshadeepam which literally means ‘one lakh lamps’. On this day, the entire temple is lit and in its dazzling background, Lord Padmanabha, Lord Narasimha and Lord Krishna are taken out on Garudavahana in a grand procession
Poorakkali : *******www.neelaearth****
Poorakkali was a ritual dance performed by men during the nine day Pooram festival in Bhagavathy temples, across the erstwhile state of Kolathunadu (northern Kerala).
The festival, to propitiate Kamadeva ( the god of love), begins with the Karthika asterism and concludes on the pooram asterism of the Malayalam month of Meenam (Pisces). Performed by a group of young men in loin clothes, this pirouette around a huge multi-decked nilavilakku involves a lot of martial skills and masculine movements.
There are no singers or orchestra accompanying the performance and the dancers themselves sing and keep rhythm by movements of the foot and clapping of hands. The songs are based on mythology. Songs in praise of Goddess Saraswathy (goddess of learning and art) and Lord Ganapathy (the elephant headed god) are also sung. The dance begins with systematic rituals after an invocation.
Usually the dancers observe a month of abstinence and strenuous practice before the performance. A
The kalam is a unique drawing also called "dhulee chithram" or powder drawing. The artist uses the floor as his canvas. Kalamezhuthu pattu is performed as part of the rituals to worship and propitiate gods like Kaali, Ayyappan or Vettakkorumakan.
This ritualistic art is a common feature of temples as well as noble households. The kalams or drawings are erased at the end of the ritual to the accompaniment of musical instruments like ilathalam, veekan chenda, kuzhal, kombu and chenda.
The coloured powders used for the kalam are prepared from natural products only. The pigments are extracted from plants - rice flour (white), charcoal powder (black), turmeric powder (yellow), powdered green leaves (green), and a mixture of turmeric powder and lime (red). It often takes more than two hours to finish a kalam drawing with appealing perfection.
The figures drawn usually have an expression of anger, and other emotions. Kalamezhuthu artists are generally members of communities like the Kurups,
Oppana - www.neelaearth****
The video clip for the month has the ceremonial dance Oppana, which is performed as part of the wedding celebrations among the Muslims of Malabar region in Kerala. During Oppana, the bride clad in her wedding attire will get surrounded by maidens and young female relatives, who will start clapping their hands followed by singing and dancing. The songs of Oppana are first sung by the leader and are repeated by the chorus. The themes are often teasing comments and innuendoes about the bride's anticipated nuptial bliss
Kottappuram backwaters - www.neelaearth****
The video of the month has the beautiful expanse of Kottappuram backwaters of Kasaragod district. At Kottappuram, one can go for a refreshing stroll alongside the vast backwater stretches or can enjoy an exhilarating sun set in the evening. Or else, ride a country boat, try your fishing skills, or hop into a majestic houseboat and relax in the cool breeze to cruise the length and breadth of these palm-fringed backwaters.
Athapookalam - www.neelaearth****
The celebrations for the Onam festival commence with Athapookalam or the traditional floral carpet made in the front courtyard of the houses. It commences on the day of the Atham asterism, in the Malayalam month of Chingam and gets over on the tenth day, which is marked by the Thiruvonam asterism. It is a symbolic way to welcome the mythological King Mahabali, who is supposed to visit his subjects during the festival of Onam. An exquisite variety of flowers are gathered to make Pookalam.
During the festival season, competitions are held in Atha Pookalam or the traditional floral decoration, meant to great King Mahabali. The visual for the month has excerpts from one such competition, held in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.
Sabarimala - www.neelaearth****
Nestled in the thick forests of the Sabari Hills of the Western Ghats range, and situated in the District of Pathanamthitta, this hill shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyappan is a pilgrim’s wish of a lifetime, to pay obeisance and to seek blessings. Such is the popularity of this shrine that it draws thousands of people from all over the world, irrespective of cast or creed. The shrine will be teeming with devotees especially during the pilgrim season from November to January. It is a 4 to 5 km trek from the banks of the River Pamba to the shrine on top of the hill. Women, who are past their fertility age or before puberty are allowed to enter the shrine.