|Kerala is located
between north latitudes 8 degree 18' and 12 degree 48' and east longitudes
74 degree 52' and 72 degree 22', this land of eternal beauty encompasses
1.18 per cent of the India. The land area of kerala is about 38,863 sqkm,
with a total population of 31,838,619. It is about 3 per cent of the country's
population. The population density of the state is about 655 people per
square kilometer, About 16 per cent of the people live in the cities. Most
of the others live in large, semi-urban villages.
If there is one place in
the riveting diversity of India where there is tangible beauty and a phenomenal
thing like total literacy, it is in Kerala. Kerala is full of good things.
This small State in the southern tip of the Indian peninsula is an easy
winner owning to its great mind-blowing landscape and infinity of intriguing
customs, high-intensity cultural life and educated public so often dressed
in white. From Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram Kerala is choc-a-bloc with
places that attract tourists and travelers from all over the world.
Traditional Hindu temples
in Kerala are simple structures made of wood, brick and laterite stone.
Often, from afar, the only sign that marks the presence of old temples
is a tall, ceremonial flag-mast. The main sanctum hosting the deities -the
Sreekovil - is invariably a single storied building of a circular or square
Inside the temples, use of
oil lamps in contrast to electrical lights lends an air of serenity and
mysticism. Walls of the Sreekovil are rarely left bare, and are instead,
covered with intricate, beautiful mural paintings or wood carvings.
The building base is usually
of granite and the walls are of laterite stone masonry covered with lime
plaster. The inner framework is of wood. This timber framework supports
a conical or pyramidal roof covered with copper tiles. These sloping-roof
buildings cope very well with the torrential rains that are a hallmark
of Kerala's climate.
Evolution of temples in Kerala
is closely linked to her social and cultural history.
Almost all of the festivals
in Kerala include at least one richly caparisoned elephant. Elephants
carry the deity during annual festival processions and ceremonial circambulations
in the temples. The temple elephants are decorated with gold plated caparisons
(nettipattom), bells, necklaces. People mounted on top hold high tinselled
silk parasols (muthukuda), swaying white tufts (venchamaram) and peacock
feather fans (aalavattom) to the rhythm of the orchestra
Like most South Indian cuisine,
be it seafood or rice and other cereal dishes, the emphasis is on 'healthy
food', less use of oil, sugar, and artificial additives, and more use of
natural herbs, spices flavorings, and coconut. Spices that flavor the local
cuisine of Kerala give it a sharp pungency that is heightened with the
use of tamarind.
In the Kerala kitchens,
be it of any of the various communities living there, simple methods and
the locally available foodstuff are used to dish out mouthwatering delicacies.
Even the ordinary tapioca root, for example, becomes a main course when
boiled and sautéed with coconut and spices, a snack when sliced
fine, salted and fried, and a sweet dish when steamed with coconut and
Kerala has a rich repertoire
of folk dances. They reflect the temperaments and moods of the localities
in music and costumes and are highly developed. Religious colouring is
mostly seen in almost all of these folk dances, even in those performed
in connection with harvests, sowing of seeds festivals etc. Men alone,
some exclusively by women, perform many of these dance forms. There are
also dances in which men and women perform together. Most of the folk dances
are performed to the accompaniment of songs, which are sung by the dancers
themselves or occasionally by a group of musicians. Some are performed
to the accompaniment of musical instruments only. In several dances the
performers form a circle and clap as they dance. Sometimes, instead of
clapping they strike small sticks, which they hold in their hands. The
costumes and ornaments are peculiar to the places to which they belong.
In these folk dances there is no difference between the performers and
the audience. Almost all of these dances are simple but beneath this simplicity
are a profundity of conception is a directness of expression, which are
of a high artistic order.
Mehndi or Hina is the application
of henna as a temporary form of skin decoration, orginated in India
it is most popular in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Somaliland
as well as expatriate communities from these areas. It is typically employed
for special occasions, particularly weddings. It is usually drawn on the
hands and feet, where the color will be darkest because the skin contains
higher levels of keratin, with which the colorant of henna, lawsone, enters
a permanent bind.