Bears in town to mark Onam fest at Arinalloor

There are currently 20 members in the Karadikali Sangom which is recognised by the Folklore Academy of Kerala.

Kollam: With Onam round the corner, the village of Arinalloor is all set to celebrate the festival with its rarest folk form of 'Karadikali'. The “hunters” will roam around shooting down “bears” in front of houses in the village, dancing to the tune of folk and contemporary village songs in the art form of Karadikali. This time Karadikali will be held in Arinalloor on Friday.

‘Karadikali’, the ethnic performance art was once an integral part of Onam celebrations across the State along with ‘Pulikali’. The abandoned art form is still preserved by a group of young men from Arinalloor here, making it the only place in Kerala where the art form is performed during Onam. This season also, Karadikali will be the major celebration for the villagers of Arinalloor. The folk art is led by a veteran Raghavan Kalangara who has been in the field for the last 50 years.

In Karadikali, the performers dress up to give the appearance of a bear, likewise a tiger in Pulikali, to dance to the tune of ‘Karadippattu’. “The bear’s outfit includes a mask resembling a bear’s face, carved out from the wood of the ‘Pala’ tree. It is painted to make it more attractive with space for the artist to stick out his tongue and even enabling the jaws to open. The body of the bear will be in black colour and their necks and waist will be adorned with coconut palm leaves, after removing the splinters,” Raghavan Kalangara told DC.

The ‘Karadikali’ team would include 2-3 bears, a ‘Vedan’ or hunter with a mock gun to shoot the bears, and 10-20 people singing around them to the tune of ‘Ganjira’, a South Indian frame drum or ‘Ilathaalam’, a miniature pair of cymbals.

The entire performance is based on an artist pretending to be the hunter trapping a bear from the forest and making it dance in villages with the backdrop of songs that narrate the history of the village or even stories from mythology and finally he “shoots” the bear using a bow and arrow marking an end to the performance. The traditional song of ‘Karadippattu’ is about the sights a bird sees, during its flight from Kayamkulam to Thiruvananthapuram. The bear visits all the houses in the locality and “dies” at every courtyard, after the hunter shoots it.

There are currently 20 members in the Karadikali Sangom which is recognised by the Folklore Academy of Kerala.

This season, try out a rustic Onam jamboree

For the first time, the Tourism Department has decided to integrate Responsible Tourism with the state's harvest festival. Onam packages with a distinct local flavor, each one reflecting the sub-culture of the host village or community, will be evolved by the RT Mission under the scheme ‘Naattinpurangalil Onam Unnam, Onasammanam Vangam’ (Savour Onam in the villages, and get Onam gifts). The scheme will extend till September 30.

The tour packages will allow the tourist to participate in local Onam activities like ‘uriyadi’ or ‘vadamvali’ or boat race. In between they will be served ‘Onasadya’ in a local village household, and then, as a farewell gesture, the tourist will be given an Onam gift packet that will contain traditional Onam ingredients like ‘Onamundu’, banana chips, sharkkaraperatty, ammummathiri, and vithu pen. The package cost, which will range from Rs 4500 to Rs 7500 for a group f maximum four members, will be shared among the local community given back to the local community. This season, the scheme will be limited to Wayanad, Kovalam, Kumarakom, Vaikom and Bekal.

“We are getting tremendous response for the packages in the initial phase itself and we are planning to extend the project to all the 14 districts,” tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran told reporters here on Wednesday. Tourism director P Balakiran said that at the moment 126 households, 63 homestays and 34 restaurants had registered for the 4.5 crore scheme.

The minister said that it was for the first time that the Tourism Department was providing an opportunity for the tourists to know Onam, participate in its celebrations, enjoy Onasadya, watch Onakalikal and take part in them. State RT mission coordinator Rupesh Kumar said that the Onam gifts provided to the tourists would be destination specific products and souvenirs. “Rather than casually visiting the rural areas of the state, the tourists can enjoy the authentic Onam celebrations being held in Kerala with these packages. It will introduce tourists to authentic Kerala but will also open a new stream of income for villagers,” Mr Kumar said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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