Weekly sessions on Kerala Culture, Cuisine and Costumes

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Dr Smitha Nair

Dr Smitha Nair

Auckland, October 16, 2021

Virtual Classes on Saturdays from 12 pm to 1 pm

                                                                                              Anita Nair, a famous novelist of Kerala, initiating a child into learning in Vidyarambham Day (Twitter Picture)


As a part of its ‘Virtual Navaratri’ celebrations, the Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam has introduced a novel way of learning the culture, traditions, and language of Kerala.

The Samajam’s Social Club launched ‘Vidyarambham,’ an auspicious occasion to begin the formal education of children today (October 16, 2021). Vidyarambham (Vidhya meaning knowledge and Arambam meaning beginning).

Editor’s Note: According to accurate Hindu calculations, ‘Saraswathi Pooja’ was held on Thursday, October 14, 2021 and Vidyarambham and ‘Vijayadashami Pooja ‘ were observed on Friday, October 15, 2021.

As well as learning and understanding the culture of Kerala, the engagement with our Samajam will also enable participants to sing and dance for the Malayalam beats; how to prepare authentic Sadhya (traditional lunch); what to wear traditionally and how, and to enjoy occasional Malayalam movie nights.

About Dussehra or Navaratri

Dussehra (Dasha is ten and Hara is defeat in Sanskrit) is a Hindu festival to celebrate the victory of good over evil after the nine nights of divine feminine worship during Navaratri.

Vijayadashami is marked as the Victorious Tenth Day of the Ashwina Month, occurring during September/October, the third month in Chaturmas (Four Holy months of Hindus) and coincides with Ayppasi in Tamil, Kanni and Thulam in Malayalam, Aso Maas in Gujarati.

Many Hindus celebrate the 10th day of Navaratri with great fervour and fanfare and conduct prayer meetings with food offerings.

Vijayadashami is celebrated in different ways in different States in India.

The Land of Parashurama

According to the Puranas, Kerala is known as Parashurama Kshetram, “The Land of Parashurama,’ since it was reclaimed from the sea when he threw his Parashu.

Malayalam is the native language of this South Indian State that shares its borders with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Here, the last three days of Navaratri are for the worship of Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Wisdom and Learning).

About Vidyarambham

Keralites celebrate Vidyarambham, inducting Children into education on this day.

Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam organised ‘Ente Keralam, Ente Samskaram, Ente Bhasha’ (My Kerala, My Culture, My Language), a virtual programme to introduce the knowledge of Kerala culture, tradition, and language to their members and anyone else interested in the wider community.

This Programme, shown free of charge, has been designed to make the learning enjoyable, in a relaxed setting and caters to people aged five years and above. Though the model of learning is age-group specific, it covers several topics, ranging from storytelling, addressing the variation in language (slangs) to traditional cooking with regards to the region or districts. Although not a regular or formal way of Malayalam learning classes where the focus is on language learning, here, we intend to provide a general knowledge of Kerala, its tradition and culture, involving language learning.

Variety and flexibility

For instance, while introducing a new word or an alphabet, related folklore, song, dance, art, and poetry will be taught alongside for a rich vocabulary building.

Among the other topics proposed to be discussed include history and geography of Kerala, traditional cooking and Ayurveda, the trusted and most ancient medical science.

The Costumes of Kerala have also evinced widespread interest and hence, facilitators will explain the type of attire worn on different occasions under the broad theme of ‘Kerala and its Culture’ will form a part of the weekly sessions.

This is simply an informal introduction to learning and there is no set curriculum.

However, many aspects can be integrated into this and tailored according to the interest of the audience and the level of participation and expertise. 

Overall, the Programme aims to provide a working knowledge of reading, writing, and speaking of the Malayalam language and high-level learning of Kerala culture in a very informal way.

The weekly Programme will also enable participants to sing and dance for the Malayalam beats; how to prepare authentic Sadhya (traditional lunch); what to wear traditionally and how, and to enjoy occasional Malayalam movie nights.

Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam invites everyone interested to join our learning group.

These sessions will be held every Saturday from 12 pm to 1 pm and will be facilitated by the Samajam members passionate about the Culture and Language of Kerala. Those proficient in our culture, tradition, language and cuisine and keen on becoming a facilitator may please contact us.

For further information, please visit https://amhs.org.nz/contact-us/
Email: culturals@amhs.org.nz
Dr Smitha Nair is a Member of the Executive Committee of the Auckland Malayali Hindu Samajam.

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