‘Kala’ Coming Of Age
by Elizabeth Menon

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It was a splendid display of Kerala at its best - what else would one expect at the annual meeting of ‘Kerala Arts and Literary Association’?! An evening of music, dance, poetry and Kathakali, brought Kerala amidst the Malayalees who long for their land of culture and beauty. It was indeed a summit of rhythm, music, Poetry and art. The second Annual Day Celebration was held at Bushey Mead School Hall near Watford on 17 October. Professor V. Madhusoodanan Nair, the literary sensation from Kerala was the chief guest. Famous musician Jayan of ‘Jaya Vijaya’ was the great surprise of the evening! Dr Krishnan Nair, Director of the Regional Cancer Centre, Trivandrum was also one of the guest speakers.

Kerala Arts and Literary Association was formed two years ago by a group of Malayalees to uphold the culture and traditions of Kerala in a foreign land. The association has achieved to create a tremendous interest among our youngsters in the UK and has helped many, to pursue their interest in Indian music and dance. I must stress here that it has also helped to bring out a few hidden talents! The association has brought famous writers and poets from Kerala to their regular group discussions, including Professor Nancy James and Mr Vishnu Narayanan Namboothiri. Vayalar Symposium was one of the major attractions, attended by many.

The celebrations started with a heart warming prayer in Sanskrit by Deepa Nair. Dr P. Sukumaran Nair was very impressive with his Presidential address. Then Professor Madhusoodanan Nair came to the podium: verse and music coupled with the trail blazing recital of his poems made it an unforgettable evening. He recited his poems with such an ease that words were flowing like water from mountain springs. He encouraged audience participation and it was obvious that everyone enjoyed it! His splendid performance reminded us that Malayalam poetry is still alive and has come a long way since the days of Poonthanam and Cherusseri. The exclusive club belonging to Swathi Thirunal, Kumaran Asan, Ulloor and Vallathol has opened its doors in the past for O N V, Vayalar, Vailoppilli, Changampuzha, Sugatha kumari and Yousafali (to name a few) and now its doors are wide open for Madhusoodanan Nair, who represents the spirit of new India.

When Jayan of ‘Jaya Vijaya’ was ushered on to the stage, the audience fell under a magic spell! Film classics such as ‘Kshirasagara, Nakshathra deepangal and Radha than premathodano’ filled the air with magic; of course we have all heard these songs before in the celestial voice of ‘one and only’ - ‘the uncrowned king of Kerala’. Yesudas and Jayan have been working together for many years to bring out music at its best, in various films and devotional cassettes such as ‘Thulasimala and Mayilpeeli and now, Madhumurali’. They both are disciples of the great Chempai Vaidyanatha Bhagavather and it is only appropriate and highly commendable that they take the lead to erect a statue of the great Chempai at kottayi in Palakkadu. I am sure that all who admire his music will be only too happy to help.

Dr Krishnan Nair narrated his experience as a doctor that was quite inspirational. Kalamandalam Vijayakumar and Barbara Vijayakumar gave a magnificent performance with ‘Poothana Moksham’. Mridangam by Ravi Ramdas was a brilliant display of rhythm and music that showed great promise. Pooja dance by Nisha Nair captivated the audience by her splendid footwork and beautiful facial expressions. Semi-classical dance by Christina Pereira and Bharatha Natyam by Pamela also were greatly applauded. The Folk dance performed by Sindhu Pillai, Shirley Raman and Sheeja Raghunathen enchanted the audience with their beauty and grace.

The informal singing by a few talented members and the vote of thanks by the secretary delighted the audience. The disco was welcomed with great cheer, especially by the youngsters. Dr Sukumaran with the help of Nashitha and Pradeep lead the evening celebrations magnificently. One hopes that KALA will represent Malayalees and Kerala Culture for years to come.

© E Menon



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