Saturday, May 4, 2013

Youth Pledge to Take Charge of Mother Pampa

Prof. Kadammanitta Vasudevan Pillai lighting the lamp
Aren't you hearing the wails of Mother Pampa, asked poet Mohan Aranmula. When she is being  attacked and is bruised. How can you stand and watch. Born at the Sabarimala hills and feeding the children all these years now she is in this plight, she is pleading with Lord Parthasarathy at Aranmula. Don't abandon me, don't tell me, me in distress, that you are not seeing my plight, please. The audience at the Sathra Kadavu, at Aranmula on the banks of the holy river Pampa, sun setting at the western horizon, felt the pain swell deep within. Mohan ended saying that  her children are now getting ready, with the blessings of the Lord they shall avenge the wrongs. That the bruised Mother Nature is healed.

It was the new generation from across Kerala sitting there. The program was Paithrukom - 2013
Mohan Aranmula
organized by the Vidyarthi Seva Trust and ABVP Kerala. A generation that has to take charge of the land tomorrow. It was the first day of the program and included a Pampa Arathy, worshipping the river, Pampa Vilakku, floating lamps in the river and classes on the native rituals of nature worship that gave the land its symbiotic cultural traits. Made weak in the phase of colonization and getting weaker in the post independence days when Kerala went under a psedo-colonial lobby. When the land and its environment was subject to abuse all over. And the destroyers are at their best now, nature degraded all over and human greed violating all norms. Here was an assertion of saner minds, a strong one at that, that the control is being taken back by the nature loving native youth. And these were the youth who needed the basic inputs of native culture, now eclipsed and marginalized.

Prof. Thomas P Thomas, Study Class
The program started with the eminent folklorist  Prof. Kadammanitta Vasudevan Pillai lighting a lamp under the ages old mango tree on the banks of the river Pampa. The folklorist and doyen of Kerala performing arts took the youth through the hidden messages of ritual arts in the region. What was revealing to the youth who get an education framed during the colonial era and what is still continued, education made a commerce by alien lobbies. This here was real education. The native
S Jithesh, Cartoonist taking Class
mutuality of culture and environment is least understood now as the speakers pointed out.  General Convener of the Paithruka Grama Samithy, P R Shaji gave a briefing to the youth about the ongoing agitation against the airport and the statewide plans of the Aranmula Heritage Movement which is being spread all over Kerala. The poetry session was powerful and was one asking the youth to take responsibility, not look away, be true to themselves. It is their own survival system in peril. To drive away the nature's enemies, protect mother land.

Pampa Arathy, Acharya Lal Prasad Bhattathiri 
The Pampa Arathi, worship of the Mother Pampa, then Mother India, Mother Ganges, and all her holy rivers. Prayers to Mother Earth to forgive all the sins, give strength to win over evil, to protect us, give solace and happiness to all of mankind, its beings. It was done as the sky took a crimson hue of red, sun was setting. The sacred river of the Malayali was slow flowing, ravaged but majestic still. Highly respected Acharya Lal Prasad Bhattathiri lead the ancient rituals. The bell clangs and mantras reverberated on the banks of the Pampa. And the youth, all who were present, repeated the matras, for Earth Mother, Ecological Health, World Peace. The nature seemed pleased. Then the youth took to Pampa Villakku, floating lamps on the river bed, an ancient ritual in India honoring the rivers, the lifelines of nature. It was a return to the olden day native strengths and as Kummanam Rajasekharan, Patron of the movement said, these are timeless customs of this land and we are duty bound to take it to the next generation. What kept this land green and fertile. No evil power can stop us and they shall be avenged. It is also the past history of this land and its people, he declared.

Performing Ritual Art, Padayani
The high light of the program was a live performance of Padayani, a sacred performing art, kind of war dance, done in temples, from the troupe Paithruka Kala Kalari, Naranganam. This is a ritual that enacts the fight of evil and good and the Mother Goddess armed with the sword and the oil lit torch dances in abandon and destroys the enemies after a hard fight. It creates a hoary scene in the evening darkness. With the colored face masks, drum beats and violent steps accompanied by the high pitched songs in chorus, it created an other worldly scene on the banks of Pampa as people mesmerized stood and watched. All of them in fact prayed too. The master, Asan, of the folk art, Radhakrishan Nair, Naranganam, was also honored at the function.

Mala Kalakkal, Class by Stage Artist
The youth had audio-visual supported classes lead by N K Sukumaran Nair, long time crusader fighting for Pampa river conservation. One of the most senior environmentalists, also Secretary of  Pampa Samrakshana Samithy talk by Nair was followed by an academic, Prof. Thomas P Thomas, and others. The program also had trips to the nearby wetlands, once lush paddy fields but now mostly barren after years of plotting against the traditional paddy sector by post-colonial exploiter communities. Now threatened more by an airport project.  Sacred Groves like Aringottu Kavu was visited and classes by well known experts on other areas from yoga, spirituality to those in the modern idiom were equally stressed. The youth had enjoyable moments with Varayarangu, where cartoonist S Jithesh,
Pampa Villakku, lamps
being floated 
famous as the quick cartoonist in Kerala. Jithesh with his amazing skills of sketching people in moments impressed the audience. There was a session of role play and drama lead by Mala Kalakkal, a gifted actor. Conducted inside a grove Mala made the youth enact real life scenes. Like the local people's representatives playing in real life, as saviors when among the people, secretly fixing deals elsewhere, getting rewards from the people's enemies. Beauty of the program was that it was all organised by the youth themselves, lads of the students of the ABVP, Akhila Bharateeya Vidyarthi Parishat. It was locally lead by K K Manoj and O Nidhish, and a team of Rathish R Mohan overseeing. Vinu, Aswin, Akhil, Gokul and others planed and managed program and they the also struggled to raise the funds through house to house collections. No wonder for the state with a cancerous minority economy dictating terms resources are scarce for the Hindu segment. The program is to continue at Aranmula and similar programs shall be organized across the state, those interested have been invited to get in touch.  

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