Kerala At A Glance

Location : Southwestern tip of India.
Area : 38, 863 sq km.

Population : 3,18,38,619
Capital : Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum)
Language : Malayalam;English is widely spoken.
Religion : Hinduism, Christianity, Islam
Time : GMT +5:30
Currency : Indian Rupee
Climate : Tropical.
Summer : February - May (24 - 330C)
Monsoon : June - September (22 - 280C)
Winter : October - January (22 - 320C)
Names of Districts
Old New
Trivandrum Thiruvananthapuram
Quilon Kollam
Alleppey Alappuzha
Trichur Thrissur
Palghat Palakkad
Calicut Kozhikode
Cannanore Kannur
Major Cities : Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi (Ernakulam district) and Kozhikode.

Population : 318.39 lakhs as per the latest 2001 Census
(31.839 Millions)
Density of Population : 819 per sq kms
Kerala's Share in the National Population : 3.1 per cent
District Average : 22.74 lakhs (2.274 millions)
Sex Ratio : 1058 women for 1000 men

Kerala meaning 'the land of coconuts' lies at the southernmost tip of India. It stretches along the coast of the Arabian Sea and is separated from the rest of the sub continent by the steep Western Ghats.

Kerala boasts a rich tradition rooted in a deep historical backdrop. Long before Vasco Da Gama, the first European to discover the sea route to India, landed on the shores of Kerala, Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, and Chinese had been regularly sailing to its coast to source spices, sandalwood and ivory.

The Chinese fishing nets and ancient synagogue remain reminiscent of these ancient trade relationships. Kerala's history is the synthesis of old tradition and new values, assimilated over many centuries.

Today, Kerala is known all over the world as a unique destination. The National Geographic Traveler calls it one of the ten 'Paradises Found' in the world, for its diverse geography and overwhelming greenery. It is a land much acclaimed for the contemporary nature of its cultural ethos, and much appreciated for the soothing, rejuvenating paradise that it is.

Socially, Kerala has many firsts to its credit. A hundred percent literate state with high health care and health awareness standards, it has the lowest infant mortality rate among Indian states.

With the highest social development index in India and comparable with that of developed countries, the women in the state enjoy considerable social status mainly due to the historical matrilineal system. Higher education and equal opportunities have further strengthened the status of women in Kerala's society.

Kerala is a microcosm of multi-religious India, cohabited by Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Hinduism forms the principal religion with considerable percentages of Muslims and Christians, boasting a long tradition of harmonious co-existence.

With its beautiful lagoons and lush landscape lined by tall coconut palms and bright green paddy fields, Kerala is a visual treat beyond comparison. But the real treasure of Kerala lies in the cultural heritage of its people, in their ballads, their songs and dances, their rituals and their intellectual pursuits.

Long months of monsoon and an agro based economy laid a strong foundation for the evolution of distinctive festivals and traditions of Kerala. These colorful occasions showcase Kerala's legacy and more often are intertwined with the many religious beliefs. Kerala's multi - culturalism is best reflected in the various festivals of different faiths.

Onam is Malayali's favourite festival, heralding the harvest season in the months of August - September. People celebrate with flowers, lights, feasts, fireworks and games. The snake boat races held in connection with Onam are the magnificent fiestas that brings alive the tranquil backwaters. Scores of long snake boats participate in these events. Hailed as the largest team sport in the world, the snake boat races are preceded by impressive water parades.

Other important festivals of Kerala are Eid, Easter, Muharram, and other festivals that are traditionally celebrated all over the country.

Among the temple festivals, Thrissur Pooram is the most popular, where 30 caparisoned elephants, exhilarating percussion, colorful umbrellas atop elephants and magnificent fireworks combine to create a virtual feast for the senses.

The different religions that found roots in Kerala like Jainism and Buddhism in the early centuries and Christianity, Islam and Judaism in the later centuries became an integral part of the social fabric of Kerala and naturally influenced its cultural tradition. This synthesis has gifted Kerala with a bounty of art forms and traditions incomparable in its diversity.

Kerala's legacy in art and culture dates back to centuries. Ancient rulers of the State took special interest in promoting the art and culture of the State. Now widely accepted as God's own country, Kerala also prides itself for its repertoire of rich cultural heritage. Kerala holds a place of honor among the people of India who have enriched Indian Cultural Heritage and helped the cause of national integration. Kerala's culture is in fact, an integral part of Indian culture.

The culture of Kerala is also a composite and cosmopolitan culture to which several people and races have made their significant contributions. Kerala's population comprises of a large number of the people from the Dravidians race, who also inhibit most of the southern part of India. Hinduism is the principal religion with considerable percentages of Christians and Muslims. The gradual evolution of composite and cosmopolitan culture led to the emergence of a spirit of tolerance and catholicity of outlook, which still persist among the people of Kerala.

Kerala is renowned for its varied martial arts. Amongst the many forms of martial arts of Kerala are Kalaripayattu, Parisa Kali, Velakali, and Njaninmel Kali. Woodcarving is an important craft form that this state has developed. The craftsmen of Kerala can pick up the humblest and meanest bits of material and imbue them with magical mastery.

Kerala has a distinctive cuisine, very unusual and different from the rest of India. Cooking in Kerala is all about discoveries, aromas and colors. It's a melting pot of different ingredients sprinkled by the various communities down the ages.

Thus, in its totality, the culture of Kerala represents the quintessence of the collective achievements of a people in the fields of religion and philosophy, language and literature, art and architecture, education and learning and economic and social organization.

PROGRAM Kritya 2007

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