1997 Review

Murali Nair reflects on the birth of KALA and its first year

It is a great coincidence in the broader Indian context that the Indian anniversary of KALA falls during the Golden Jubilee celebration of the Indian independence. Actually throughout the period starting from 15th August 97 till 14th August 98, the jubilee year of Indian Independence is being celebrated. Numerous cultural events are being conducted in various parts of the world to mark the occasion. All of us in KALA can take pride that we are also celebrating in our own humble way the first anniversary of our young association to promote arts and literature which had played important role in the quest for independence.

The vague idea of promoting Kerala’s arts and literature among a close- knit circle of friends in the United Kingdom took formal shape on 27th October 1996 when thirteen like- minded Malayalee families from different parts of London and home counties converged at “Linden Lea”, Camberley, Surrey at the invitation of Drs. P. K. Sukumaran and Sethulakshmi Nair. The thirteen families became the founding members of KALA dedicating themselves to the idea that the essence of Kerala culture through Arts and Literature should be spread among the friends living thousands of miles away from Kerala. KALA is not only for the benefit the nostalgic generation, but also for the benefit of the young generations, who otherwise might not know their roots and the fact that they are heirs to a rich cultural heritage, perhaps richer than any other they are already acquainted with. The launching of KALA was smoothened by the commitment of the well – enlightened honorary office bearers and committee members, who, among their busy working life, are able to devote so much time for affairs of KALA.

The Palm Leaf
At the outset it was the unanimous decision of the KALA members that a quarterly journal should be published for exchange of news, views and other artistic expressions of the KALA members. Thus “The Palm Leaf” was launched, and its first issue was brought out with record speed, in spite of the shortage of time and resources required for such a task. The great services rendered by KALA Editorial Board, especially that of Dr. Santhosh Pillai as editor, had made it possible that the first issue of Palm Leaf could be brought out in record speed for distribution at the first formal gathering in March 1997 with an impressive cover picture, good layout and very interesting contents. Like any other young organisation, there were shortages of resources and time at the disposal of KALA, but it did not discourage the enthusiasm of the Editorial board. The second issue of the Palm Leaf was distributed at the second formal gathering in June 1997, which was equally impressive. There are so many home – grown, hitherto unpublished, contributors to the Palm Leaf and this may have come as a pleasant surprise to many of its readers. This fact further enhances the magazine’s appeal. There have been already some interesting commendations on the magazine that every issue will be eagerly awaited by its readership. We hope that the Palm leaf would be known as the launching pad for the young (and not that too young) talents.

First meeting of KALA members and their friends was held in March at the Orbital Community Hall. It was an occasion for some of those present to meet for the first time. After formal introductions of the members and their friends a formal meeting of KALA was held, followed by sumptuous lunch (courtesy Mr. T. Haridas Nair) and cultural programmes like dance, playing of musical instruments, poetry, and a talk on the Malayalam satirist VKN were the highlights of this meeting. Impressed with KALA’s goals and activities, new families expressed their wish to be part of KALA family. Following the procedure laid down, the membership was increased to 26 families, which is a remarkable event in such a short period.

The second meeting was held as scheduled in June 1997 at the same venue as the first meeting. Sri Vishnu Narayanan Nampoothiri, a well known Malayalam poet, graced the occasion as chief guest. The meeting was followed by lunch and cultural programmes, some interesting discussions between the chief guest and KALA members.

The third and final meeting of this year is going to be the first annual meeting of KALA. This is taking place on 25th October 1997 with ambitious schedule of programmes lasting 9 hours. The programmes will include a concert by Sreekumar and his orchestra, a drama, Bharata Natyam items, folk dance and much more. Activities for next year are expected to be as diverse and exciting as this year’s.

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