Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Sojourn to sizzling south

Musings by Shekhar Nambiar

The last couple of months were the season for temple festivals in Kerala. Each more popular than the other, the festivals drew hundreds of thousands to temple grounds in celebration.

This year’s festivities were bigger than the ones in the past two years that saw everything being held in the shadow of the pandemic.

Thrissur pooram in 2023

Thrissur pooram

Thrissur Pooram, the festival of festivals, climaxed on May 1, which was also Labour Day across India. Caparisoned elephants lined up on the two sides of the ground in front of the Vadakkunathashetram, the temple dedicated to Lord Siva in the heart of the city. 

The annual festival attracts hundreds of thousands of devotees from all over the country and also tourists as far away as Europe and North America.

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Another highlight of the festival, the Vedikkettu or fireworks display, took many a breath away in the afternoon of the final day. The city was in a celebratory mood for all of the week.

Sri Krishna (Uttara Guruvayurappan) temple in Delhi where a lovely elephant does parikrama round the shrine

Temple festivals

A few days later, the Sri Krishna (Uttara Guruvayurappan) temple in Delhi reverberated to drums and percussion instruments, and a lovely elephant on parikrama, or pradakshina, around the shrine, for the traditional sheeveli  with the deity. The elephant, the darling of the devotees, was in step with the drum beats. It was the annual utsavam for Delhi Malayalees and they gathered in strength for the duration of the festival that culminated on May 17.

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A few weeks before, from mid-April onwards, there were celebrations’ galore in temples across Kerala, including at the famous Trichambaram Sri Krishna temple and at Cherukunnu’s Annapoorneswari Devi shrine, the goddess who came all the way from Varanasi by sea to land at AyiramThengu (Thousand Coconut Trees).

Theyyam Makkavum Makkulum (Mother & children) (Pix by Pooja KN)

Both Trichambaram and Cherukunnu are in Kannur, a part of North Malabar as the region was once called. Kannur is the land of theyyam, and true to Kerala’s moniker ‘God’s Own Country’, is known for its ancient temples, sacred groves and shrines. It is equally famous for its cuisine, handlooms, crafts and folk legends. 

It also has the swanky Kannur International Airport linking the district to the world and cities such as Doha, Dubai, Bahrain, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. 

To the adventurous, the place offers mountains for long hikes and walks, and to soak in breath-taking views of the Arabian Sea on the west and the lofty Western Ghats to the east, beyond which are Coorg and Mysore. And Bangalore farther off.

Summer time

It’s summer time in India. The weather in Kerala has been extremely hot. The weather pundits see this as the effect of climate change. Summer showers across the state came as a relief from the blistering heat quite unusual for these parts.

In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, and in the capital Chennai, people had been warning of high temperatures, and even a cyclonic storm was predicted during early May. The storm never hit the coast but it certainly brought down temperatures, possibly also cooling the Chepauk where two IPL matches were played around the time. 

The sea was rough especially during high tide, which is quite normall. A few hours spent at the private beach of a resort at Mahabalipuram – or Mamallapuram – was refreshing with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds. The scene on the beach was surreal.

After almost several years, I watched a flick at a theatre on the East Coast Road. It was the epic PS2 starring a galaxy of actors such as Aishwarya Rai, Vikram and Jayaram. The Manirathnam film was a technical delight, and spectacular too, but the storyline was a trifle complex. Having been exposed to Kalki’s novel that my mother had introduced me to years ago, I was expecting the film to be easy to comprehend even with my very poor knowledge of Tamil. I am no cinema expert but the movie could have been edited better.

IPL playoffs

With the IPL season nearing the playoffs, one by one we’ll see teams enter the important stage of the tournament. The standings do give an indication. Chennai and Mumbai are strong contenders, but the former still will have to win their match against Delhi. SRH, KKR and Rajasthan among them – have taken a beating and are not to be seen anywhere near the top.

Mohsin Khan who did the magic for Luknow in the last over

Lucknow’s exciting win against Mumbai, thanks to some intelligent and clever bowling by Mohsin Khan in the last over, has them cleared for the playoff.

Cricket being cricket, let’s not speculate about who will beat whom or get to the playoffs. The game is still open but for some the writing is on the wall.

Cheers to other sports

STAR Sports have brought in a new campaign ostensibly to showcase cricket’s poorer cousins – read other sports. In the first of the spots, Yuvraj Singh is engaging in a banter with woman boxer Nikhat Zareen. There are others to come, including hockey’s feted goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. It’s not a bad idea, promote as it does sports diversity in the country.

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Yuvaraj Singh and Nikhat Zareen

The season has brought in another element through TV. We’ve been able to see some of our gentlemen cricketers of the past. Sunil Gavaskar and Sreekanth are giving expert opinion. It’s a delight to see them both. Gavaskar’s impartial observations that articulate elegantlyare quite evident for everyone to see.

The special event where Dhoni signed on Gavaskar’s T-shirt was a warm moment. And the icing was the presence of Tom Moody, who praised Gavaskar for his excellent commentary and for his words of encouragement to the younger and up-and-comingplayers.

As always, Sreekanth is frank and impartial in his views, all delivered in ‘Chika’s’ inimitable style.

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Season’s potpourri

There are learnings from the IPL season. The potpourri of offerings from not only the cricket stable but also the range and variety of attendant things such as the entertaining and informative advertising campaigns and their messages, by and large conveyed most effortlessly, have contributed to the overall feel-good factor.

Gujarat Titans in a new kit-jersey in lavender colour to raise awareness on cancer


The ‘Shor on Game on’ series features the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja, capturing the excitement of the community watching the game. The series shows the joy of entire residential blocks and apartments watching the game in a mela-like atmosphere. And in the process promote IPL cricket and IPL watching on TV, if not physically being present at the grounds. Remember watching Chitraharand Hindi films on TV in community halls! And who can forget the community screening of films, including great classics, with socially relevant messages sent out without appearing to be ‘top down’, among them cinematic treats such as Acchut Kanya, Do Bigha Zameen and Bandini to name a few.

Last season’s winner Gujarat Titans have done well by appearing in a new kit – jersey in lavender colour- for their home match against SRH this week, which they won with ease and have entered the playoffs, to raise awareness on cancer.

Finally, people will wager about wins but then that’s up to them. Let’s not dilute the excitement. Instead, sit tight and watch the game!

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Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar Nambiar
Shekhar is a communications professional who has spent a good deal of time in international organizations and in the development sector. As he puts it, it's been an "exciting journey" for him, beginning his working life as a journalist, with some of the best editors and professionals, before venturing into public affairs and then forays in the private sector. He believes "every day brings new challenges, achievements and success, and the key is to play a small part in whatever it is that you're doing". He tries to keep pace with new tech, and learn a new word a day, of course, "Gen Z lingo!"


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