Why Aranmula is a unique piece of land?

published on April 2, 2013

Janam TV’s series on ‘Aranmula and the ongoing agitations’ have focused on how acres of land were treacherously obtained by the KGS Group and their subsequent intentions. A string of ‘developmental’ plans made by KGS Group were outlined yesterday. Today we focus on why Aranmula is special, why it is not just a piece of ordinary land.

Let us first remind ourselves that Aranmula has been hailed by UNESCO as ‘Global Heritage Village’. Numerous aspects have gone into the conferring of this label on the tiny hamlet tucked away in God’s own country.

Say Aranmula and some of the first things that rush into mind are those mirrors, which have captured the intrigue of even international markets: the Aranmula Kannadi. Along with this is the famous Aranmula Vallam Kali and Chundan Vallam (snake boats) that take part in the race, to the rhythm of Vanchipaattu (boat song).

Aranmula is home to the unique artifact: Aranmula kannadi. The secret of this exclusive piece of craft is that it lets you see your own reflection, not on a piece of ‘glass’ mirror, but on a ‘metal’ mirror. And the divine secret behind this remains elusive. The Viswakarmas of Aranmula, who have been living here for ages have held it to them, closely guarded it and handed it down over generations.

The annual Aranmula Vallam Kali is another of those aspects that have steeped the land in antiquity. Taking place since time immemorial, the race forms part of the festivities of Lord Parthasarathy temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna and Arjuna. The occasion by itself stands synonymous with Kerala, with every feature of it being symbols of our land’s traditional and cultural pride.

Aranmula’s Parthasarathy temple can be considered to be the pivotal point for these cultural and traditional activities. Legends trace the temple back to the time of Mahabharata, with Arjuna himself being its architect. One of the 108 “Divya Desams”, or temples of Vishnu revered by the 12 Alwars or the poet saints of Tamil Nadu, Parthasarathy temple is indeed Aranmula’s landmark.

Adding to these are the other glories of Aranmula: Aranmula Valla Sadya, Pulikkunnumala Mahadeva Temple, where Lord Shiva was worshipped by Pandavas; Thiruaranmula Parthsarathi temple, where Arjuna is worshipped as the chief deity; Vaasthu Vidya Gurukulam, where the traditional way of constructing buildings is imparted; 200 year old Aranmula Palace which is a halt spot of ‘Thiruvabharana Ghosha yatra’; a host of smaller temples; venue of the famous Maramon convention, all set in the backdrop of the divine Pampa.

We have been taught, from time immemorial that water is the elixir of life. Precious water, which is copiously seen in Aranmula: an ecologically fragile region replete with wetlands that feed the holy river Pampa. And above all, Aranmula is the paddy bowl of Kerala.

Taking these features one by one and studying them in depth, we realize that Aranmula is a treasure trove, which has rightly been awarded the title of ‘Global Heritage Village’.

The place, with these cultural riches is enough to fill Kerala’s treasury, if harnessed the right way. All this, along with preservation of what is known ethnicity, which stands primarily important as a mark of cultural identity!

A similar story can be said about the district of Kutch, in Gujarat, known for its unique needlecraft done on both textiles and leather. Amidst the ample progress made in Kutch in industrial sectors, the state government never chose to sacrifice Kutch’s cultural aspects at the developmental altar. Instead we see funds being allotted for the betterment of native crafts, craftsmen, cultural monuments and preservation of natural milieu.

Rightly promoted, the Aranmula’s ‘kannadi’, ‘chundan vallams’ with its golden lace at the head of each boat, flag and ornamental umbrella at its center, teachings of traditional construction, paddy cultivation and natural beauty can all go a long way in making the place a perfectly rich tourist destination.

If harnessed the right way the place will witness a flourish, retaining all its pristine charm, which the ‘Greenfield International Airport’ of KGS Group will never usher in. This can be termed as true development. A surge of materialism, with its foundation on destruction is never development.

If capitalizing of existing resources without a trace of damage has been done in Gujarat, the governing authorities from God’s own country could well take a lesson from their Gujarati counterparts.

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