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Traditional Method of Coconut Oil Extraction: Asha Devi Varma’s Quest to revive it

Asha Devi Varma, a retired agricultural officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction.

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Asha Devi Varma at her residence in Kerala. Image Source : thehindu.com
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  • Asha Devi Varma, a retired officer in Kerala, is trying to revive the traditional method of coconut oil extraction
  • She is doing so with the help of advice from doctors and Ayurveda experts and local women who help her with daily preparations
  • Her business is small but the products are highly recommended by doctors

In the recent years, the growing demand of coconut and the health benefits attached to it has led companies experiment with it and make it fancier day by day. The coconut products have become commercialized to a large extent- seasoning for desserts, for making quirky cocktails, drinks- commercialization has made everything profitable for the coconut industry. However, the original process of extracting virgin coconut oil has almost disappeared from the households of Kerala.

Asha Devi Varma is a retired agricultural officer who is attempting to revive the natural process of coconut oil extraction in Kerala. Previously, women used to process coconut to extract the virgin oil naturally at home through a process called velichenna kaachiyathu which protected the goodness of the oil.

Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com
Coconut oil, extracted naturally. Image Source : thehindu.com

After having retired from service, Asha Devi was not ready to live the life of a retiree. She wanted to do something to make a difference. She went over to young housewives and asked them if they knew the process of extracting coconut oil from coconuts. She was surprised to discover that none of the women of the current generation know anything about the process of extraction. “It came as a surprise to me but none of the women from this generation knew the way coconut oil is extracted traditionally, something that their grandmothers would have done routinely,” said Asha to The Hindu. So she contacted some elderly ladies and Ayurveda experts to get a firsthand experience of the process.

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After having learnt the process, she brought in young ladies from the local area to start learning it. The initial phase was difficult since it was a delicate process and it was impossible to get it right on the first try. So, the phase of trial and error went on for some time until the art was perfected by them. Now, Asha Devi and her local women prepare homemade baby oil, cooking oil and beauty oil and sell, locally. She gets about 10-12 litres of coconut oil shipped from Lakshadweep to Kerala. Her business has become quite successful.

Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net
Coconut milk. Image Source : coconut-info.net

Even though her business is small, it is highly recommended by doctors for babies and their mothers. “Coconut milk has contents that are found in mother’s milk. Its properties are good for hair and skin,” Asha Devi told The Hindu. She further asserted regarding the coconut oil, that, “A couple of spoons taken orally is supposed to heal the body after childbirth. The beauty oil gives a healthy skin. This is traditional knowledge”.

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Asha Devi is thrilled at the way her business is progressing. Her happiness is not just because of the profits or contacts that they are gaining but it is partly because she has succeeded in reviving the traditional method of coconut oil extraction and processing. Her initiative and perseverance are commendable, indeed.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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Top 10 Malayalam movies you should definitely watch

Mollywood has some great cinematic pieces to its credit. India's first Rs.1000 crore film was also announced in Mollywood only.

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Maayalam movies are some of the best movies produced in India. Wikimedia Commons
Maayalam movies are some of the best movies produced in India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Kerala is one of the best states in India to live, and their movies are some of the best too.
  • Malayalam film industry or Mollywood is said to be superior in terms of screenplay and plots than other film industries in India.
  • The new and old Malayalam movies, all are equally beautiful and some of them are nothing short of a thrilling ride for the audiences.

Malayalam film industry or Mollywood is highly underrated, we don’t hear much about it. Every year, this industry produces some of the best films which are not only appreciated by audiences but also by critics. Malayalam movies are a great example of sensible cinema.

Mollywood has some great cinematic pieces to its credit. India’s first Rs.1000 crore film was also announced in Mollywood only. Malayalam movies are said to be superior in terms of stories, screenplay and direction when compared to other Indian language movies. For how truth it holds, let us take a look at top 10 best Malayalam movies one should definitely watch :

Drishyam

Everyone knows about this movie. It was critically acclaimed and won audience’s hearts with its amazing dialogues and performances, especially by Mohanlal. The movie was a thrilling murder suspense, which had all of us at the edge of our seats. This Malayalam movie has been dubbed into various languages and even after years from its initial release in 2013, is still one of the audience’s favourite suspense movies to watch. It’s Bollywood remake of the same name was equally successful.

Guru

Guru was a fantasy movie which used mythological characters like Yamaraj and Chitragupt, to shine the light on the otherwise ignored topic of communal violence. This movie has a universal appeal as it is relevant even today. Guru became a landmark Malayalam movie because of its experimental plotline, and Ilayaraaja’s brilliant music composition. Guru was also India’s official entry to the Oscars’ in the year, 1997.

Loudspeaker 

Loudspeaker, directed by Jayaraj, is the story of an uneducated man who always carries an old tape recorder with him along with his strong opinions. As an organ donor for an old man, he came as a ray of hope and happiness who swipes the sadness away. This is one movie where Mammootty is seen as a simple man and he is also at his best. The story may not be the most original but it will surely give you a warm feeling inside.

North 24 Kaatham 

A story revolving around a man who is a germaphobe and is a patient of OCD? The characters, storyline, and almost everything about this Malayalam movie is different and new. The man who along with three others experience a lifetime worth of troubles is an adventurous ride for the audience. By the end of the film, a happy feeling can be experienced by the viewers.

ABCD

 

ABCD or American Born-Confused Desi is a comedy which portrays the story of an NRI boy who is sent to his hometown in Kerala in order to make him more responsible. One thing leads to another and he ends up being a face of a revolution.The movie’s title is a satire on the term ABCD which is used as an insult to the Desi people.

Rathinirvedam 

Rathinirvedam is the remake of an old Malayalam movieofh the same name. This movie deals with the taboo topic of a young man falling for an older woman. It is one of the boldest films which showcased a love story forbidden by families and societies. It is definitely a must watch for those who are searching for something new.

 Salt N Pepper

This 2013 Mollywood movie directed by Ashiq Abu has an interesting theme and plot line. This Malayali movie mixes up food and love, and there can be no better combination than that for a successful film. This film is a modern day love story of two people who share a mutual love for food. The film will appeal to both foodies and romantics. It is funny, genuine, and a break from all other action and drama flicks we see releasing everyday.

Amen

Amen is a combination of romance, fantasy, comedy and music, which is about small village situated in the backwaters of Kerala. It is the story of a struggling musician. The film stars Fahadh Faasil, Swathi Reddy, and Indrajit Sukumaran in lead roles and is directed by Lijo Jose Pellissery. However, the film’s USP is its convincing story and the smartly written script.

Manjadikuru  

Anjali Menon’s Manjadikuru is an ode to all women who hold their own in a male dominated society. The story is all about childhood  nostalgia and make-believe we often indulge in as children. The film will take you on a beautiful adventure which will make you smile and think at the same time. This beautiful film evoked equally beautiful emotions and presented Kerala in a very pleasing light.

Thira

This movie by Vineeth Srinivasan will take you on a thrilling ride. It deals with the sensitive topic of human trafficking and prostitution.  Thira is a captivating watch which will keep you on the edge of your seat at all times.