C V N Kalari

Kalarippayattu, considered the mother of martial art forms, is a priceless asset to Kerala’s heritage. An intricate blend of physical prowess, mindset, martial techniques and indigenous medical system, this form of armed and hand-to-hand combat is unique to the State. The Kalari is a practice ring, or training centre, on the lines of a gymnasium and Payattu means duel. Hence Kalarippayattu means martial skills learnt in a ring. The C V N Kalari Sangham was established in 1956 after lifelong dedicated efforts of C V Narayanan Nair, C V Balan Nair and Kottackal Karunakara Gurukkal. They popularised the art which was on the verge of dying, by staging demonstrations, collecting information and establishing Kalaries across the State.

The C V N Kalari is built in an east-west direction about 4 feet below ground level, it is closed on all sides except for a small door to the east. This cocoon-like Kalari architecture is greatly suited for the tropical, humid climate of Kerala. Not much light enters the Kalari other than the light from the traditional wick lamps, nilavilakku. Since Kalarippayattu is considered a sublime art, certain deities are placed in the Kalari and rituals performed before every session. Paradevata, or the Goddess of Kalari, is the main deity. Idols of Ganapathi, Naga (the serpent god), Bhadrakali and others are also placed. The rites of worship are of the Kalari tradition.

Rigorous training and stamina are imarted to the Kalari warrior. He depends only on his alertness and agility, and the use of various postures and swift movements for attack as well and defence.Years rigorous training are needed to hone the reflexes while cultivating mental abilities like concentration, confidence and courage. The training starts at the age of seven for boys and girls. For most Kalari exponents, the training becomes a way of life. Kalari training also includes meditation and Ayurvedic massage which is necessary for conditioning and making the body supple. A task that is done by the Gurukkal, or the Master Trainer himself.

There are four stages in the taining. First is the Chuvadu, or stance, followed by Vadivu, or body posture, which are eight in number: gaja (elephant), simha (lion), aswa (horse), varaha (pig), sarpa (serpent), marjjara (cat), kukkuda (rooster) and matsya (fish). The trainee who masters both goes on to Meyppayattu (use of body in fighting) which aims at perfecting neuro-muscular coordination. Training with weapons comes next. Commencing with cane the trainee graduates to using the Cheruvadi (small stick), Ottakkol (pole), Gada (mace) and Kadtaram (dagger. The most glamorous of combats is the combat with sword and shield.

Another weapon is the Urumi, a long, springy, double-edged, coiled sword which can recoil and hurt the user if not careful. Fighting with spears is the last in the syllabus. The spears,Kuntham, are long poles made of cane, bamboo or wood with a sharp double edged metal tip. An entire system of medicine revolves round the art of Kalari Chikitsa, or Kalari treatment that is an integral part of the tradition.

It is mainly used to treat sprains, fractures, wounds and other injuries. Performers of other traditional arts also undergo the Kalari Chikitsa for better body suppleness. Kalari masters are extraordinary healers, adept at curing physical ailments with the Ayurvedic system of massages with herbs. Kalari performances are organised, both in India and abroad, on request. Lecture demonstrations are presented at the Kalari at Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode.

Kizhakkekottah, Thambanoor -Bus Stand (KSRTC)
Thiruvananthapuram International Airport,6 kms away
Railway Station:
Nearest Railway Station: Thiruvananthapuram, 1 1/2 kms away

Tourist Place to Visit in Thiruvananthapuram District, Kerala

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