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As its name signifies, Sarang Cultural Exchange Center, primarily aims at propagation and exchange of different cultures. In today’s increasingly violent world, an understanding and acceptance of different cultures is the only way to peaceful co-existence. Also, the existence and growth of any art form does not solely depend on the performer. A knowledgeable audience who can appreciate it in full measure is equally important. So we welcome to our Center, not only the professional or aspiring artists but also culturally-oriented people seeking to get acquainted with the arts & culture of Kerala. We offer opportunity to understand and study Indian art forms,  languages, cuisines and Yoga.  We make a customised curriculum tailored to fit the duration of your stay.  We also conduct follow up classes if you are serious in the subject.

Apart from conducting classes, we  also arrange village visits and study trips with history and heritage as the theme. You can also join with us in village activities like cultivation and harvesting.

The workshops that we conduct regularly are focused on giving you a glimpse of the subject. Usually the workshops are planned around holidays so that you can attend them without it affecting your job.

Kerala has a vibrant cultural tradition with many art forms entwined with spirituality and many others with strong roots in rural life. We believe that learning traditional arts in diverse contexts will deepen understanding about Indian culture. So, we are in the process of building a network with various artists and arts & cultural institutions all over Kerala. We hope that this Center truly evolves into a platform which can introduce you to the many wonderful artists and institutions that dot Kerala’s cultural map.

The idea of such a center evolved from a great cultural center that has been closed down in 2009.  Read that story here!

 

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The Mentors

Sarang Alternative School evolved as an answer to this teacher couple’s quest for an education system which would allow children to grow into good human beings, responsible and responsive to the society. Over the years many children and adults have derived life-changing inspiration from Sarang. Their son, Gautham and daughters, Kannaki & Unniyarcha, grew up within this system.

Envisioning a rural university, offering no degrees or certificates, but a space to learn how to live self-reliantly and sustainably, Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalekshmi, believe that art education is essential to the refinement of human sensibilities.

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Sarang Children

Along with Kannaki and Unniyarcha, Gautham’s siblings, 5 other children live and learn at Sarang Alternative School. Of a varied age group of 10-21 years, these children come from different villages in Kerala.

The children are staying in another house nearby with Gopala-krishnan and Vijaya-lekshmi, who started the alternative school. The children study Kathakali, Carnatic Vocal, Carnatic Flute & Violin and Mridangam. Their  bring much music and laughter, with practice sessions and extended meal times.

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On the Helms

Gautham (32) and Anu (29) started their journey together in 2008.  They were joined by a little fellow-traveler in April 2010, Hiranya, a baby girl. They are striving to take Sarang Rural University into the future. Multifaceted, this young couple take up freelance assignments especially in web designing to support the large Sarang family.

They envisaged this Center as a platform for dialogue among different cultures, artists, art education centers and common man. They believe that use of art as a universal language will strengthen the global community.

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The Story Behind

Hello friends,

Gautham and Anuradha from Sarang Alternative School here!

We have been travelers and explorers all our lives, as part of our studies, hobbies, work.

Travel is also an essential method of learning at Sarang. The Sarang children traveled to different places in Kerala to learn various art forms. Art has always formed a significant part of Sarang’s dynamic curriculum. We believe that art is a powerful refining tool in the process of instilling values and ethics in young minds.

Along our journey we stopped a while at Vijnana Kalavedi, a wonderful institution for cultural exchange in Aranmula, Southern Kerala. Vijnana Kalavedi was created three decades ago by Ms. Louba Schild, a French Kathakali artiste. At a very young age she traveled to India seeking spirituality and learnt Kathakali in Kerala. Vijnana Kalavedi evolved due to her wish to share her experience of Indian arts and culture with the world. Over the years, the Center grew into a dedicated platform for learning traditional art forms and the meaningful exchange of different cultures.

We worked at Vijnana Kalavedi, helping with the expansion and maintenance. There the Sarang children found an opportunity to study many art forms under a single roof. They were constantly exposed to varied cultures, languages and people, which widened their horizons.

Sadly, Vijnana Kalavedi stopped functioning in August 2009. It came as a shock not only to us but to many of the students who were staying at the Center or had once stayed there. Everyone got together and brainstormed over many solutions to keep this heritage alive. Finally we parted ways with the hope that ‘where one tree falls, ten sprouts would rise up’. They did! Some of the teachers of Vijnana Kalavedi began their own institutions.

Since our lives revolved around Sarang, we planned to continue the art education of Sarang Children. Along with this, we dreamed of filling at least part of the void created by the closure of Vijnana Kalavedi, in our own humble way.

So here we are! After much searching, we found an ideal location at Pathirippala, Palakkad. Also, good teachers for Kathakali, Bharatanatyam, Flute, Mridangam, and Mohiniyattam. Classes for the Sarang children started on March 1st 2010.

Now we are all set to welcome fellow-explorers to join our journey! We dream of a Center where not only can serious artists delve deep into traditional Indian art forms but where anyone can come and experience the beauty of different art forms and cultures by learning to appreciate them.
The road goes ever-on… Let’s walk some of it together.

Love and Regards,

Gautham, Anuradha