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Like Konkani, Tulu is a language that is spoken in parts of Karnataka and Kerala. The people who speak this language are called Tuluvas, and in the southernmost region, they are known as Thigalayas. Among many dialects that Karnataka and Kerala are known for, Tulu makes up for a large part of the linguistic population, but still remains a linguistic minority because it has not been included in the Constitution's 8th schedule.
Tulu is believed to be one of the most linguistically developed languages among scholars. It does not have a script, like Konkani, as native speakers make do with Kannada and Malayalam scripts. The differences in sound and form are identifiable only to those who form what is known as Tulu Nadu.
An unofficial state within states, Tulu Nadu consists of Mangaluru, Udupi and parts of Kasargod. In these regions, the Tulu population is greater then surrounding areas where the language is spoken. When India was divided into states post partition, the Tuluvas asked for a separate state for themselves, but this was not granted keeping in mind the even greater Kannada speaking population who formed Karnataka.
Tulu is a language that borrows the script of Malayalam and Kannada Image credit: wikimedia commons
Tulu, as a language, remains a minority because it never received royal patronage. Krishnadevaraya, a renowned king of the Vijayanagar Kingdom, did not patronise this language even though it was his own mother tongue. He chose to laud poetry in Telugu instead, which affected the Tuluva community immensely in gaining prominence in their own land.
Even today, this community is working hard to be recognised as a population larger than they are considered to be. Many poets, authors, and literary figures from the community have contributed to Kannada literature, hoping to revive the knowledge and acknowledgement of Tulu.
Keywords: Tulu, Kannada, Karnataka, Tulu Nadu, Language
Spoken widely along the Konkan coast of India, Konkani is a language that is hard to pick up but easy to understand. It is one of the South Indian languages that have survived since before the Portuguese influence in India and has developed into its different dialects over the years.
Originally believed to have been spoken by the Kukna and Gamit tribes of Western India, Konkani was adopted by the Goans. From here, through trade and other interactions, it travelled all the way to the tip of Kerala. Native speakers have incorporated the dialects spoken along the way, and now it is a language that is understood by most people because of how the similarity in words.
Konkani has no script of its own. It borrows from the scripts of all the other southern languages. Kannadiga Konkani speakers write in Kannada, Malayali Konkani speakers write in Malayalam, and so on. Even the Roman script has been adopted by this language.
Some people believe that Konkani and Marathi are very similar languages and might even be related, but the question of which one came first is unresolved. Over the years, they have merged together in certain regions, and in other places, they have remained quite separate. When the Portuguese came, the diaspora they left behind adopted this language. Some resources also state that Konkani originated at the time the Mauryan Dynasty ruled this part of India.
An institution that teaches Konkani at Alto Porvorim, Goa Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
As it stands today, is all mixed up with other languages, Konkani is a marker of caste and region, and sometimes even religion based on certain pronunciations and choice of vocabulary. The words used by those from the coast and those in the interior rural areas also differ greatly. When a speaker of Konkani says something, it is very easy to identify where they are from, and what their caste or religion is.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the language underwent a decline, and revival movements were set up. Institutions exist today that teach the language. A theatre art form that aims to keep the language alive, called 'tiatrs' is performed across parts of the western coast. Since the Portuguese descendants returned to their home country after they were granted citizenship by Portugal, Konkani has now fully integrated into the language of India, and even features on the Indian currency.
Keywords: Konkani, Language, South India, Konkan Coast, Portuguese
Every part of South India changes colour on Onam and Vishu when Malayalis begin their celebrations. They cannot be missed for they decorate themselves in subtle shades of gold and white, and dot the streets in their traditional attire.
The white kerala saree, known as kasavu, has a rather interesting history. It grew to prominence when the Portuguese reached India, and began trade. Gold was exchanged for spices, and women began to incorporate gold into their sarees. The white part of the kasavu is believed to be inspired by the Greco-Roman one-piece, also known as 'toga' or 'palmyrene'.In Ravi Verma's paintings, the Malayali woman is visibly very similar to the European contemporary when she is decked in her adornments.
A classical dancer dressed in gold and white kasavu Image source: wikimedia commons
The traditional malayalis used to wear what is called a mundu, or a settu-mundu, which consisted of a rectangular piece of cloth tied around the waist. They did not cover their upper bodies. Later, women began to wear a blouse or place a cloth to cover their upper body, and the mundu became a two-piece affair. Today, women wear three different pieces. The blouse is worn with one cloth wrapped around the waist, and another wrapped around the chest. Colours are also incorporated according to each one's taste.
The kasavu yarn is spun and dyed in the required colours, and stretched, ideally in the early hours of the morning. It is also soaked and stamped to make it soft. It is then mounted on the loom and woven. The stretching allows the fabric to become resilient, and it does not break easily. Once woven, it is immediately turned into sarees or mundus. Since it is a relatively plain weave, it does not require a post-weave process.
The kasavu saree is very simple and common among the malayalis, and with added colours, even among other south Indians. The luxury of this saree lies in the fact that it is woven with real gold in the borders.
Keywords: Kasavu, mundu, Kerala, Gold, White
The world of martial arts has been dominated by the Far Eastern nations, and words like kung fu and karate, immediately create a mental image of Asian men with long hair, white robes, and flexible bodies flying through the air. These arts, although completely assimilated by the Asian cultures, originated in India. Like Buddhism, which is the foundational religion that the principles of martial arts are derived from, the actual art form itself made its way from South India, where it was practiced for many years.
Kerala is known predominantly for coconuts, toddy, boats, and communism. It is also the house of Ayurveda, and Kalaripayattu. Kalaripayattu has become a dance form that is performed at festivals and in cultural programmes, but it began as a medieval fighting technique that was kept a secret among the warrior caste of Kerala, the Nairs.
Kalaripayattu trainees must learn to jump through fire hoops without getting burned. Image source: wikimedia commons
Kalaripayattu deals with bodily, mental, and emotional strength. Before the fighting begins, the warriors are required to practice meditation. They must learn to harness strength from the mind, in order to move in a way that acts as self-defence against the enemy, and serves as healing from temptation and waywardness. According to scholars, this art form is considered the most lethal, as the same hand can deliver a life-taking blow, and restore mobility in a single move.
The word kalarippayattu is an amalgam that means "training ground combat". It teaches the use of psychology in discipling the body and the mind. It was developed nearly six thousand years ago, and is deeply rooted in religion. Its five inter-related parts are fighting, Ayurveda (healing), spiritual practice, astrology, and yoga. Kalaripayattu warriors are taught to harness self-control, and develop their human spirit before they learn to fight. It is an art form that does not involve motive to kill, only to defend. The technique of imitating animal postures originated in Kalaripayattu, the eight animals being the lion, boar, cobra, rooster, buffalo, elephant, tiger and horse.
Young trainees learning to combat with fire Image source: wikimedia commons
In the 6th century, a monk from China came to India and learned the art. His name was Bodhidharma, and he is responsible for propagating martial arts across Asia. China and Japan developed kung fu and karate from the original kalarippayattu. Today, kalarippayattu is regarded more of a dance than a martial art, and it still is a very indigenous craft that has not been shared with the western world.
Keywords: Kalaripayattu, Bodhidharma, kung fu, karate, martial arts