Documentation of the ICH elements in Kozhikode, Kerala

Four projects were taken up by the INTACH Calicut Chapter for the documentation of various ICH elements of Kozhikode in the Malabar Coast of Kerala. The themes for the projects range from ritualistic traditions and performances and indigenous medicinal practices to the age old craft techniques. Through textual and video documentation, the Calicut chapter has listed the following ICH elements:
1. ‘Kadal Vaidyam’ – An inquiry on the indigenous medicinal practices of the fishing community
An interesting indigenous medicinal system has been prevalent among the fishing community living on the shores of the Malabar Coast. The generic local name for this system is ‘Kadal Vaidyam’, which roughly translates to sea medicines. This system of treatment takes its cue from the traditional, ancient Ayurvedic system of medicine of Kerala. The treatment of different ailments common among the fishing community are done using medicinal herbs, locally grown plants, creepers, flowers, fruits, shells, corals, fish and other resources available locally. The project seeks to document this indigenous medicinal system and the various practices associated with it.

2. The making of the ‘Malappuram Dagger’
A video documentation and a report were prepared on the making of ‘Malappuram Kathi’, the dagger of Malappuram. The Kaddara, which is popularly known as ‘Malappuram Kathi’ was used by farmers and farm labourers during the earlier periods. Beacause it originated from the district of Malappuram, it had a certain regional identity. Over time, with the development of technology and changes in lifestyle, the use of Kaddara has been reduced. This has resulted in the closing down of many traditional smithies.

3. Documentation of ‘Kaalakali’
On the banks of river Nila, a folk ritual called KaalaKali is performed. This ritual performance is connected with agrarian traditions and is usually performed by the ‘Cherumar’ or agriculture labourers. The term Kaala Kali is derived from two malyalam words, ‘kaala’ which means bull and ‘Kali’ which means play or performance. The bulls are crafted using bamboo, hay and cloth, fitted with a wooden head. A ceremonial prayer is conducted which is followed by performances. The community members then sing folk songs and dance to these carrying the ox on their head/shoulder.

4. Documentation of ‘Pallipaana’
Pallipaana/Paana is a folk ritual performed to please the Goddess Bhadrakali(Kali). This ritual is seen in the areas at the confluence of three districts- Malappuram , Palakkad and Thrissur. The important part of the ritual is singing Thottam, the folk songs detailing the story of Goddess Bhadrakali. Earlier, many temples used to conduct this performance annually. Over the course of time, the ritual was discontinued in many temples, and the ritual formalities reduced in many others. Only in a few temples is this observed as per the norms practiced by the older generations.

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