The camel is still the most precious thing in the desert
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It was once a way of war. Today, Kalaripayattu, the martial art form that’s Kerala’s enduring legacy, can be seen recreated in the peaceful environs of Kalari centres. Not only does Kalaripayattu manage to give combat a rhythmic feel, it also emphasises mental and physical discipline. Legend has it that Parasurama, Lord Vishnu’s sixth avatar and the axe-wielding creator of Kerala, gave life to Kalaripayattu. Its origins are also traced to the fact that ancient Kerala was ruled by several feudal lords, a situation that made war inevitable. To ensure protection, each region had its own small army consisting of trained fighters, mostly from the Nair community. These soldiers, it is said, gave Kalaripayattu its current form. Indeed, some of the most-loved legends in Kerala are about Kalari fighters such as Thacholi Othenan, a gallant warrior from Vadakara (48 km from Kozhikode), about whom many ballads have been penned. In Kozhikode, visit the CVN Kalari Centre (Tel: 0495-2768214, 2769114; cvnkalarikerala.com) at Nadakavu (just 2 km from the city centre). Timings 6-9 am and 4-7 pm. IK Kerala Kalari Sangham at Korapuzha (13 km from Kozhikode, on Kannur Road), also teaches Kalaripayattu. Lessons are given in the morning; it’s shut in April-May. Call 0496-2633973 to fix an appointment.
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