Kerala and Kalaripayattu are synonymous to each other. After all, this beautiful state did introduce the world to the oldest surviving form of martial arts, which is still practised across nations. In order to promote this art form, the Kerala Government has decided to set up a Kalaripayattu Academy at the Vellar Craft Village in Thiruvananthapuram, under the Department of Tourism. They plan to associate with the Dance Training College, which is already a part of the Vellar Craft Village. The construction of the place is said to complete in two months.
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Kalaripayattu, or locally known as Kalari, is one of those art forms in Kerala with a history that dates back to the 3rd century BC. It comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Khaluriga,’ which translates to warfare. Kalari teaching centres are treated like the temples of Kerala. It is constructed four feet down to the ground, 42 feet in length and 21 feet width. The training involves perfecting reflexes, speed, and power using weapons such as sticks, dagger, knife, spear, sword and shield, Urumi etc. while employing acrobatic movements with grace. It tests the extremes of the body and mind. Not for the weak soul.
The Kalaripayattu Academy will be a 3,500 square feet gallery, where Kalari Gurus (respectfully called as Gurukkals) under the leadership of Padma Shri Meenakshiamma, the oldest and the only female practitioner of Kalaripayattu, will host classes for children and adults.
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They plan to teach 100 students in the first batch and progress accordingly. The training will be divided into two batches – 5 am to 8 am and 5 pm to 7 pm. During the inauguration of the Vellar Craft village, due to happen on the 16th of January, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayam will release the Kalaripayattu syllabus for public perusal.
This is undoubtedly a great move by the Kerala Government to preserve and promote an art from that is of historical significance.