A Breath of Art and Fresh Air

My year is always incomplete without at least an annual trip to Kerala to visit family, and this time I planned my time there to coincide with Vishu and the temple festival at the Kanichukulangara temple. Plus, I had a new niece and nephews to hang out with!

There were Kathakali and classical music performances at the temple for the duration of the festival, and I headed there to watch the Kathakali artists get ready. I’ve been sharing the photos on Instagram erratically, so thought it would be good to have them all in one place. I’ve watched Kathakali artists prepare for their performance earlier, but since there are so many stories and characters it’s a unique experience each time. And it might be just me, but the artists seemed so much more expressive than us mortals, even while just going about their business!


Most temples feature a couple or more dwarapalas (gate-guardians) at the entrance. The Kanichukulangara temple has a few unusual ones though. They have sculptures of policemen on the pillars. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about:


My father remembers these guys being there when he was young, so the cops keeping guard at the temple are at least half a century old, and most likely even older.

The pleasure of getting up early and sitting on the porch with a cup of tea is something I do without fail when I’m down South. Colours in Delhi, (where I spend almost all of my time) just seems like duller versions of what you see in Kerala.


The night before Vishu, I helped my dad cure cashew-nuts from our garden, to be used in the payasam (rice-pudding) that my mother was going to make. The outer shells of cashews are hard and contain a corrosive oil, and the cashews are roasted to make them fit for consumption. For those of you not in the know, cashews, while being roasted, are mini firecrackers. They sizzle and pop, and you have to be careful. We tried roasting them directly in a bonfire in the first round, and well, uh, that didn’t work. The cashews ended up burnt and unusable for the most part. We got it right the second time around though! We put the cashews in a clay pot this time.


I forgot to mention that we had an audience during the entire exercise. We haven’t given him a name, but he shows up at mealtimes like clockwork to ask for his share.


Remember the nieces and nephews I spoke about at the beginning of this post? Well here’s a couple of photos of the youngest nephew with his mother and grandfather.


A trip to Kerala isn’t complete without watching the sun set, and watching little crabs scuttling about on the sand.


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