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Friday, June 29, 2012


                                                       A friend shared this on facebook.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.
                                                                                                                          - Cree Indian proverb

"Walking, I am listening to a deper way.Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me.Be still they say.Watch and listen.You are the result of the love of thousands." -Linda Hogan Native American Writer

Crouching Tiger, Leaping Lion

Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art, one of the oldest martial arts disciplines in existence and is practiced in Kerala and contiguous regions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, in northeastern Sri Lanka and among the Malayali community in Malaysia. Drawing inspiration from the raw power and sinuous strength of  animal forms - Lion, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar, Snake, and Crocodile, Kalaripayattu laid down the combat code of the Chola, Chera and Pandya militaries. For centuries this martial art form was shrouded in secrecy with Kalaripayattu being taught by the masters to a combat elite comprising primarily of the martial classes such as the Nairs and Ezhavas, in total isolation. 

Kalaripayat jousts typically include strikes, kicks, grappling and the use of weaponry. Regional variants of the system are classified according to the styles of practice that have evolved in different geographical areas in Kerala; the style of northern Kerala, the southern style and the central style from inner Kerala.

These three main schools of thought can be distinguished by their attacking and defensive patterns. The northern style of Kalaripayat is based on the principle of hard technique and places more emphasis on the use of traditional weapons than on simply bare hand techniques.  The southern style called ‘Adi Murai’ primarily utilizes softer techniques using combinations of bare hand techniques, the manipulation of pressure points, the use short and long staffs, knives and daggers, flexible and double edged swords and shields and grappling.  Some of the choreographed sparring in Kalaripayat can be applied to dance.

 Historically, Kalaripayat can be traced to the Middle Ages, between the 11th and 12th centuries, being disseminated through ‘Kalaris ’, that served as active centres of learning.  Still in existence today, these institutions were schools where students could study subjects ranging from mathematics, language, astronomy and various theatrical arts besides martial arts taught in the ‘Payattu Kalari’, meaning fight school.

Kalaripayat developed further during the 9th century and was practiced by a section of the Hindu community, warrior clans of Kerala. In the 11th and 12th century, Kerala was then divided into small principalities that fought one-to-one wars among themselves. These duels or ‘ankams’ between warriors were fought on a temporary platform, four to six feet high.

At one point in history other communities in Kerala adopted and practiced Kalaripayattu. The ballads of North Kerala refer to Muslims trained in Kalaripayattu.  The Syrian Malabar Nasrani Christians also practiced Kalaripayattu and most Christian settlements had a Kalari.

A day at a Kalari
Traditionally the Kalari is constructed by digging a hollow in the ground forming a sunken area four feet in depth, forty-two feet in length and twenty-one feet in breadth. The entrance to the Kalari faces the east, to let in the morning light, and leads into the forty-two feet length oriented in an east-west axis while the twenty-one feet length is oriented north-south and the floor leveled using mud. Another consideration is that the Kalari is situated on the south-western portion of a plot of land.
Every Kalari contains a ‘Puttara’ (meaning a platform where flowers are kept), a seven tiered platform placed in the south-west corner that houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day.  The seven tiers symbolize the seven abilities that each person must possess: strength, patience, leadership, posture, training, expression and sound. Other deities are installed in the corners.  Before starting the day's practice, it is the norm for practitioners to pray to the presiding deity. There is also an area called the ‘Guruthara’ inside all Kalaris where a lamp is lit in reverence to all the gurus (masters) of the kalari.

Students begin training with a formal initiation ritual performed by the guru and by steeping across the threshold of the Kalari placing their right foot forward. The student touches the ground with the right hand and then the forehead, as a sign of respect. He is then led to the guruthara, to repeat this act. He then makes an offering with gratitude wrapped in folded betel leaves and prostrates himself, touching the master's feet as a sign of submission. The guru then blesses the novice and prays for his success. This ritual is repeated daily and symbolizes a complete submission to and acceptance of the master, the deity, the Kalari and the art.

Kalaripayattu is today emerging in a new avatar - an ancient art form - a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms - both traditional and contemporary, in theatre, and in fitness regimens. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012


" A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it." -John Steinbeck

Vembanad Window - slices of life in the backwaters.

A couple of fisher folk exchange news with a friend. Photo: Ranjit Chettur

Monday, June 18, 2012

A 12 year old recycles: how old are we?

When Sam Klein was still in kindergarten, he became fascinated with the things we throw away. Every week, on trash-collection day, the curious youngster would wait outside his house in St. Louis to watch, talk with, and oftentimes assist the visiting garbage men as they made their daily rounds. It was then, perhaps, that Sam first learned of the ugly realities of landfills -- which may be why the now 12-year-old entrepreneur has entered the national spotlight for his recycling business.
“When you throw something away … it hasn’t gone away,” says Sam. “It’s just gone to a different location.”
So, for the last few years, Sam has dedicated his free time visiting local businesses to collect their empty printer ink cartridges, an easily recyclable item too often destined for the local dump. Once he gathers enough, Sam sorts them and sends them back by the box-full to the manufacturers, who pay sometimes as much as $200 for the recycled materials.
While his bold plan has shown that recycling can be profitable for both the environment and business-owners, the preteen pioneer never intended to line his pockets. Sam has donated all proceeds from his recycling charity -- around $1,000 so far!
“It hurts him to see someone tossed aside, whether it’s a person or it's garbage," says Sam's mother, Rachel.
Earlier this week, Sam garnered some well-deserved national attention. The story of this recycling philanthropist's remarkable work was featured on NBC Nightly News -- inspiring countless others with Sam's youthful wisdom and contribution to making the world a better, cleaner, place.

                                                                                 - Courtesy Discovery Communications L,L,C.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Development - Of Tamarind and Tolerance

Develop we must, but at what cost? Maybe its time to take a real hard look at the manner in which we develop. The question that comes to my mind is that will our processes of development reward untrammeled greed over egalitarianism. To paraphrase the poet William Henry Davis,we should perhaps find the time to stare and take a real hard look at each thought and action that flows through each one of us and their consequences. To illustrate my point,I quote an article in today's issue of The Hindu:

Of Tamarind and Tolerance

For centuries, long rows of grand tamarind trees have marked our roadsides, particularly in southern India. The trees have stood like old sentinels, serene and solid through the rush of years. Their sturdy trunks and strong branches have towered over and across the roads, unmindful of buffeting rain and searing sun. Their twigs, festooned with dark green leaves, each with its paired row of little leaflets, have provided an impartial and unstinting shade and shelter for all. In return, the trees only needed a little space by the side of road, to set their roots in, and a space to stretch their arms.
Today, along the roads, men come with axes and saws for the slaughter of these trees. They bring heavy bulldozers and earth movers — construction equipment powered for destruction — to gouge the ancient roots out of the earth. Trees that stood for centuries are brusquely despatched in a matter of hours.
The tamarind tree is an old and dignified citizen of our city avenues and gardens, our countryside and farms. Its name, derived from the Arabic ‘tamar-ul-Hind' or the ‘the date of India', finds mention in written historical accounts of India going back centuries. There is irony in this, for the tamarind is native to Africa and not a species that grows naturally in India's forests. Despite being alien to India, the tamarind has not run wild and become an invasive pest, becoming instead what biologists call a naturalised species. Embraced by a deep tolerance and cultural acceptance into Indian cuisine and culture, the tamarind is today a familiar and inseparable part of Indian life and landscape.

Variety of benefits
Before the men and the machines came, the tamarind trees had an abiding presence, like torch-bearers marking a productive countryside. Their wide trunks rose above stout roots that pushed into the soil, like muscled and flexed thighs gripping the earth. Their fissured bark was thick and brown, aged and toughened and weathered, like the wrinkled face of the old woman selling mangoes in the patch of shade below.
Under the dense canopy, thousands of pedestrians and riders of two-wheelers found quick shelter from rain. Or, in scorching summers, a refreshing coolness cast by the millions of tiny leaflets. Even the air-conditioners seemed to waft easier and cooler in the metal cocoons of parked cars that escaped roasting in the sun. The trees granted many benefits and their beneficence was taken for granted.
Every year, the twigs were weighed down with hundreds of lumpy brown pods, with tart and tasty pulp, and disc-like, shining seeds. The fruits were there for the taking. The adept and nimble climbed the branches to knock down the fruit. Their friends darted around to grab the fallen pods, dodging traffic. On the roads, many tamarind trees had managed to rise above anonymity: each tree, even if not named, was numbered; each individual claimed by negotiation or auction by someone from the village or panchayat for its fruit.
Collected, dried, and packed, the fruit of the tamarind trees would eventually find its way into a thousand dishes, enrich the palate of millions, and become inseparably incorporated in people's cuisine, in their lives, in their very bodies. And no one could stop the children, who needed only a handful of stones to claim their share. The trees brought utility, food, cash, plain fun.
And yet, there is more, something intangible, overlooked. A touch of beauty — an enlivening green filled with life — in an increasingly dour landscape.

Fall from grace
Then the old roads were labelled tracks, the tracks became streets, the streets became roads, and the roads became highways. And yet, we are not satisfied, we need super-highways. This idea brooks no questioning, no obstruction. The trees must make way for tarmac. The people who stood in the shade must make way for the cars that proliferate. The vitality of a living countryside must make way for the deathly artificiality of the city, spreading like a virus down the arteries.
The tamarind trees drift into wayside anonymity, from anonymity to disuse, disuse to neglect. The fruits fall and are crushed under the tyres of vehicles. Shade and greenery are replaced by heat and grime. The songs of birds and sighing of wind in the branches are replaced by the cacophony of vehicles.
Now, the trees are but old fixtures in the landscape, like old people, grandparents and elders, suddenly out of place in a redefined world, suddenly unwanted. And when the old trees fall, the countryside is bereft, like families broken.
It does not have to end this way. Engineers and ecologists, citizens from the city and the countryside can join hands to find better design and transportation solutions. Solutions that incorporate retaining the old trees, such as tamarinds and banyans, as essential components of roadsides for their varied and indisputable uses, and as representing a more refined aesthetic sorely needed for our cities, roads, and countryside. What call do we have to deprive those who come after us of the public utility and beauty of these grand trees?
Even now, many stumps of felled trees lie metres away from widened roads: one wonders why they had to be felled at all. Natural landscaping, planning service lanes around trees, traffic regulation and public transportation solutions need to be found before the engineers and bureaucrats wield the axe, albeit indirectly from behind their desks, distanced and disconnected from land and landscape. Taken as a matter of wide public importance, decisions to retain or fell such trees should be based on democratic and public debate and consultation with and concurrence of citizens and citizen groups, and involvement of representative local administrative bodies, the judiciary, and the media.
Widening roads at any cost represents a one-dimensional view of progress that compromises other human values, capabilities, and needs, which are all not really fungible. Our increasing disconnect with these values and capabilities only erodes the deep wells of tolerance and breeds alienation between people and nature, land and culture. There are better roads, so to speak, to take, and there is time yet to take them.    
                                                                                                      - K.Balchand

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ayurveda - Our monsoon specials

Rejuvenation programs

The idea is to add life to years, not merely years to life. This concept is embodied in 'Rasaayana’ (rejuvenation) and ‘Vaajeekarna’ (verilization) aspects of Ayurveda. Charaka Samhita, the ancient Indian ayurvedic classic states that it is possible by a special course of rejuvenation therapy of six months duration, to transform entirely an aged and diseased body into a fresh and youthful one.

Medicated oil/medicated milk is poured onto the body in continuous streams while being gently massaged by four therapists for an hour. It is extremely soothing and relaxing. It acts as a free radical scavenger, toning, strengthening and deeply rejuvenating the whole body.

Benefits of Pizhichil
Cures Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) after exposure to a viral or bacterial infection, Increases Ojus
& body immunity, anti-aging & rejuvenating, alleviates the burning sensation in the body,ensures better circulation, helps to recover from paralysis, promotes healing of fractures.

Panchakarma - Full body detoxification and cleansing
Panchakarma is Ayurveda's primary purification and detoxification treatment. Panchakarma
means the "five therapies". These 5 therapeutic means of eliminating toxins from the body are
Vamana, Virechana, Nasya, Basti and Raktamoskshana. This series of five therapies help remove
deep rooted stress and illness causing toxins from the body while balancing the ‘doshas’ (energies that govern all biological functions).

The Panchakarma Diet
Panchakarma is ineffective if special detoxification diet is not given along with the treatments. At the Kayaloram Ayurveda Centre are very aware of this and every individual undergoing Panchakarma is fed a special diet monitored every day by a physician. Additional treatments may be recommended by doctor at no extra cost to the guest.

Vamana is a medicated emesis therapy which removes Kapha toxins collected in the body and the respiratory tract. This is given to people with high Kapha imbalance. Daily treatment involves loosening and mobilizing the toxins with the objective of finally eliminating them.

Benefits of Vamana
Cures bronchial asthma, chronic allergies, hay fever, vitiligo, psoriasis, hyperacidity, chronic indigestion, nasal congestion, edema, obesity, psychological disorders and skin disorders.

Virechana is medicated purgation therapy which removes Pitta toxins from the body that are accumulated in the liver and gallbladder. The course of treatment completely cleanses the gastro-intestinal tract and is an entirely safe procedure without side effects.

Benefits of Virechana 
Helps root out chronic fever, diabetes, asthma, skin disorders such as herpes, paraplegia, hemiplegia bone joint disorders, digestive disorders such as constipation, hyperacidity, vitiligo, psoriasis, headaches, elephantiasis and gynecological disorders.

Basti (Enema) is considered as the mother of all Panchakarma treatments since it cleanses the accumulated toxins from all the 3 doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, through the colon. Basti is also highly beneficial as a rejuvenating treatment. Medicated oil or ghee and an herbal decoction are given as enema to clean the colon and increase the muscle tone. This procedure is usually applied for 8 to 30 days, based on the medical condition of a person.

Benefits of Basti
Cure for Hemiplegia, paraplegia, colitis, cervical spondylosis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, digestive disorders, back ache & sciatica, hepatomegaly & splenomegaly, obesity, piles, sexual debility and infertility.

Nasya involves administration of medicated oil through the nose to cleanse accumulated Kapha toxins from the head and neck region. Based on the medical condition of a person, the treatment can be given for up to 30 days.

Benefits of Nasya
Treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, Bel's palsy, insomnia, eliminates excess mucus hyper pigmentation in the face, improves memory and eye sight,  prevents pre-mature graying of hair, improves clarity of voice, treatment of headaches of various origin, hemiplegia, loss of smell and taste, frozen shoulder, migraine, stiffness of the neck, nasal allergies and polyps, neurological dysfunctions, paraplegia and sinusitis.

Raktamokshana is a procedure meant to cleanse the blood and is advised only in very rare conditions. It is not advisable during general Panchakarma. Most Ayurveda clinics including ours do not offer Raktamokshana due to the high risk of infection involved in blood cleansing.


Abyanga is Ayurveda's principal healing tool and the mother of all massages. It is a whole body massage given with herbal oils customized to your body type to detoxify, nourish and revitalize the body tissues (Dhatus). Abhyanga has much deeper and more far reaching effects than ordinary massage using mineral oils and lotions. Abhyangaachieves deepest healing effects by naturally harmonizing Mind Body & Spirit. This massage is usually given by two therapists for one hour and is usually followed by a herbal bath or medicated steam bath (Sweda).

Benefits of Abhyanga
Increases tissue strength, improves blood circulation, rejuvenates the whole body, removes cellulite, beautifies the skin, anti aging, helps sleep better, promotes vitality, Reduces Vata imbalance, stress and toxins.

In Shirodhara, medicated warm oil/herbal decoctions/medicated milk/buttermilk is
continually poured on the forehead for 20 to 30 minutes. This procedure often induces
a completely relaxing and rejuvenating mental and physical state. It deeply revitalizes
the central nervous system.

Benefits of Shirodhara
Cure for anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hypertension, diabetic neuropathy, stimulates the central nervous system, cure for hemiplegia, paraplegia, insomnia, paralysis, stress relief, prevents pre-mature graying of hair & hair loss.

This is a specialized herbal treatment for weight reduction. A herbal paste or powder is applied all over the body and deeply massaged by two trained therapists for an hour.

Benefits of Udvartana
Toning of skin & muscles after child birth or weight loss, removes cellulite, cure for obesity, helps weight reduction, improves skin complexion and revitalizes the sense of touch, removes Kapha toxins from the body.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Dhanvantari - physician of the gods

An illustration of Dhanvantari

In Hindu mythology, the origin of ayurvedic medicine is attributed to Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods.It is common practice in Hinduism for worshipers to pray to Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for sound health for themselves and others. Many people have in the course of history have taken the name "Dhanvantari" in connection with their medical practices. Based on Vedic traditions an early Indian medical practioner was one such Dhanvantari, believed to be one of the world’s first surgeons and is regarded as the source of Ayurveda. He perfected many herbal based cures and natural remedies and was credited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative nature of salt which he incorporated in his cures. Dhanvantari is also believed in Vedic tradition to be the pioneer of plastic surgery. 

Philosophy and traditional medicine

Several philosophies in India combined religion and traditional medicine—notable examples being that of Hinduism and ayurveda. Shown in the image is the philosopher Nagarjuna—known chiefly for his doctrine of the Madhyamaka (middle path)—who wrote medical text The Hundred Prescriptions and The Precious Collection, among others


Malaylam cine superstars Mamatha and Dileep were our guests at Kayaloram. Says Mamatha ”We had a super time during our stay at Kayaloram. What really helped was the excellent service and perfect housekeeping”. Dileep adds “the food was superb and the hospitality excellent. I would also like to thank everyone at Kayaloram for the wonderful service that they extended to us during our stay”

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lakeside yoga and meditation sessions

Photograph: Ranjit Chettur

Ayurveda at Kayaloram

Ayurveda centre, Kayaloram Lake Hertiage Resort.
Photo:Ranjit Chettur

Our physician will provide you guidelines on daily and seasonal lifestyle routines that are appropriate for you. After all Ayurveda stresses that being in good health is to balance the dynamic interplay between our environment, body, mind, and spirit.
Ayurveda defines the three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. If is Pitta that is the dominant component, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. Every individual is composed of all three forces, though in most people have one or two elements that predominate.
For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion.
Our methodology involves assessing a patient’s current state of balance, determine precisely where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.

Ayurveda:the science of life

Ayurveda is an ancient system of holistic health care that is native to the Indian sub continent and used by millions of people in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The word Ayurveda roughly translates as science of life with the word ‘Ayu’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ meaning knowledge or science. According to Ayurvedic philosophy the entire cosmos is an interplay of the energies of the five elements Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are combinations and permutations of these five elements that manifest as patterns present in all creation and that it is the imbalance of any of any one of these elements that is the cause of all human ailments.

Ayurveda is essentially a way of life concerned with promoting healthy living along with therapeutic measures that relate to physical, mental and spiritual harmony and the promotion of the body’s own capacity for maintenance and balance. Ayurveda treats not just the ailment but the whole person emphasizing prevention of disease to avoid the need for cure and ensures physical and mental health without side effects. Treatments are non-invasive and non-toxic and can be used safely as an alternative therapy or alongside conventional therapies.

For purification of the body five different procedures known as Panchakarma (meaning five actions) have been prescribed by Ayurveda texts to cleanse the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition. The treatments include sweat treatments, oil massages Purwakarma, Samana, Yoga and meditation. Panchakarma is always performed in three stages: Purva Karma (pre treatment), Pradhana Karma (primary treatment) and Paschat Karma (post treatment). The patient who opts for any one of the five therapies has invariably to undergo all the three stages.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Monsoon - the season for Ayurveda

photograph: Ranjit Chettur

The monsoon is the ideal season for the rejuvenation of body, mind and soul. Traditional texts reveal that in this season of rain, the atmosphere remains humid,dust-free and cool thereby opening the pores of the body to the maximum and making it most receptive to herbal oils and therapy. And the landscape is stunningly beautiful, adding to the therapeutic value.

Why Kerala?

Though Ayurvedic treatment is available all over India, it is in Kerala that it has found its most potent effectiveness. Kerala's equable climate, abundance of forests (with a wealth of herbs and medicinal plants), a historical lineage of hereditary Ayurvedic physicians and the cool monsoon season (June to October) make it most suitable for for Ayurveda's curative and restorative packages.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New member's of the Kayaloram family

Sita, Gita and Neeta, three ducks who've made Kayaloram their home. Most of the day is spent foraging for food in the little channel that flows under the bridge at the entrance. Right now they are pretty bashful and prefer their own company, but pretty soon we are sure that they are they are going to come asking around for tidbits from guests. So don't be surprised if in the near future you find yourself sharing your breakfast with three earnest ducks.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Travel with respect, travel responsibly.

To be a tourist is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you.

The last of summer's light - Kayaloram: lakeside serenity

The monsoon clouds have arrived over the Kerala coast. It is going to be wet, wet and very wet for the next four months. This doesn't mean that there's nothing to do here.The monsoon can be a source of great fascination and it is a time of the year like no other. New forms of life emerge, every day is a celebration of creation, of renewal. Kerala is now resplendent in her many hued cloak of green and there's sumptuous food as well. Children will find puddles everywhere to splash in, to sail paper boats. The backwater cruises take on a new meaning as the backwater villages and towns hunker down for the season. The weary in body and soul, in need of rejuvenation can avail of the services of our Ayurveda physician. And whats more the rates are most attractive.