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Culture of Ernakulam

Situated in the heartland of Kerala, Ernakulam is a place which has distinctive cultural contribution in terms of heritage, values and tradition. It is a place which provides a perfect amalgamation of cosmopolitan life with modern amenities as well as retaining the latent and age old traditional beliefs and customs.

The most striking factor of the culture of Ernakulam is the historical significance. As per the history of the district, the place was a hub of commercial activities like trade and business with multiple countries across the globe. Be it Arab or Greece, Portugal or Netherland, China or even England, traces of their invasion in this part of the country is visible at various times. As a result of this active involvement and interest here, they have successfully left their impression on the latent culture of Ernakulam. The district, today, comprises of a multi-cultural society with various clans residing here along with their diverse cultural facets making it a colourful place in every possible way.

Traditional Culture of Ernakulam

Ernakulam is a place which comprises rich tradition in matters related to architecture, sculpture, dance, martial arts and handicraft.

Malayalam Literature and Language

Malayalam literature is one of the significant aspects of the culture of Ernakulam. The first initiation of Malayalam literature in a complete new form was evident in fifteenth century when the text “Krishna Gatha” was introduced and was written in pure Malayalam literature. The initiator of this text who gave this form of literature a new face altogether was Cherusseri Namboodiri. However, this text was soon followed by another version which portrays a diverse form of Malayam literature where there remains a perfect blend of poetry and text along with usage of Sanskrit words.

But the first reference of the language was seen way back. It is believed that “Ramacharitham” written in 1300 AD is the oldest document in Malayalam. Before Cherusseri Namboodiri, Malayalam literature followed Mani-pravalam style. However, from 18th century, the literature form took a new turn and became well known in the dance drama format called Thullai. Translation works are evident in 19th century in various art works like novel, poetry, essay, journal, etc.

The linguistic origin of this part of the state is believed to be derived from Dravidian language family. It won’t be a mistake to conclude that the Tamil literature of the Sangam Era is a predecessor of Malayalam literature followed in the present date.

Music in Ernakulam

It is believed that culture of Ernakulam is a mixture of Aryan and Dravidian culture. Dance and Music is another integral part of the culture of Ernakulam. Some of the exclusive dance forms of this part of the state includes Koodiyattom, Mohiniattam, Krishnanattom, Thullal, Kolkkali, Kakkarishi Natakom, Thiruvathirakali,.Panchavadyam,Omanathinkal, Nadanpattu, and ofcourse Kathakali. Kathakali is dance form which holds an age of more than 300 years and has influence of multiple art style like ballet, opera, pantomime and masque. Kathakali is a complete blend of dance, music and drama done essentially with mudras and specified steps and distinctive facial expressions. Rooted to the renowned Hindu mythology, the dance form is a harmonious intermingling of literature (Sahityam), acting (natyam),painting (chithram), music (sangeetham), and dance (nrithyam).

Another dance form which has gained much popularity in the coastal belts of the most sought-after Ernakulam district is Chavittu Natakom. A Christian traditional neo-classical dance form, this art was essentially derived from the Portugese who were inclined to spread Christianity and Christian culture in southern west coast. Having a lot of similarity with the miracle plays of the west here an actor, sings, act and dance along with tapping the foot on wooden floor to make a distinctive rhythmic sound. Some of the important plays in this art form include Caralman, Genoa, Charitham etc.

Apart from this there are many art forms which plays a distinctive part in molding the culture of Ernakulam. Kalaripayattu is one of the oldest and most popular forms of martial arts which is handsomely practiced in this part of the state. Handicrafts are also much popular in Ernakulam. A lot of industries related to this expertise art are present here selling bell metals, rosewood etc. Superior craftsmanship and exclusive designs is the key word for success in Handicraft business in Ernakulam.

Events and Festivals in Ernakulam

Festivals are celebrated in a huge way with unmatched grandeur in Ernakulam district. Basically, it is the social cultural environment of the diversified environment of Ernakulam that gets depicted in the festivals of Ernakulam. The major events of this part of the state includes
  • Utsav at Mahadev Temple in the month of November which includes rituals, customs, cultural programs like recitals, classical music and kathakali dance.

  • Utsav at Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple in the month of December where the prime attraction is offering in a golden pot named as Kanikka edal along with celebrations with traditional dance and musical programs

  • Tourism Week Celebration is a program is the festival that brings together all thirteen cultures living in the district by means of food festival, Gajamela, Water festival, Musical concerts and various cultural programs. The event takes place in the month of December

  • Indira Gandhi Boat Race takes place in the beautiful backwaters of Kochi in the month of December

  • International Contemporary Dance Festival is a cultural program organized in the month of January with artists from all over India, Europe and even far away eastern countries.

  • Gramam is a festival celebrated throughout Kerala including Ernakulam. This is a ten-day celebration which includes Kathakali dance, Mohiniyattom, Thiruvathirakali, Oppana, Kalaripayattu, Theyyam, Sarpapattu, Panchavadyam and others. This is usually celebrated in the month of February

  • Utsav at Sree Rajarajeswari Temple is a ritual performed in the month of February with fireworks, cultural programs and various other art forms

  • Kakkoor Kalavayal is post harvest celebration in the month of March. Here a detail exhibition of various art and craft, agricultural products, display of folk arts, bullock race and elephant possession remains the prime attraction.

  • Bharani Festival is celebrated at Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy Temple in the month of April with various cultural programs

  • Athachamayam is a festival in the month of September which also announces the beginning of Onam Festival. Various folk art remains the main attraction here

  • Aluva Shivrathri is a celebration on the banks of River Periyar which includes cultural programs along with performing of Vavubali which is a custom of honoring forefathers. This is usually done in the month of March.

Apart from this the popular festivals in this part of the state includes Vishu, Onam and Cochin Carnival. Along with this other popular religious festivals like Janmastami, ID and Christmas also have equal importance.

In a nutshell, Ernakulam is a place with diverse cultures and interesting cultural significances which attracts millions of people to this destination every year.

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