KOZHIKODE: Along with the massage centres, the Kalaris across the state are also active. Boys and girls, aged above seven, are welcome to join the Kalaris, the traditional centres for learning the martial art form. Every Kalari will have one chief ‘Asan’ (teacher) and his senior disciples along with junior students. In the absence of the Asan, the senior students practise the items along with the juniors.
Newcomers join the Kalaris from June to August and during Navaratri for Ayudha pooja. They can continue the practice during the other months also. The traditional Kalaris are set up below the soil level on a special platform and the roofs are thatched with coconut leaves. On the first day, poojas are held in the Kalari with traditional lamp, aval (rice flakes), bananas, kalkandam (rock candy) and jaggery on a raised platform in a corner of the Kalari. The students and Asan start practising before sun rise.
In the initial days, they will practise for 20 minutes to half an hour and this will be later extended to two hours daily. There is also an order for practising the different types of weapons. Initially, the students practise ‘Mey payattu’ (body movements), followed by ‘Kolthari’ (wooden weapons) and Ankathari (metallic weapons). In the first stage, sticks of different sizes are used, including Kettukari (long stick), Kuruvadi (short stick) and Otta (curved stick).