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Tabla

One of the most popular accompaniment instruments from India, Tabla has reached far and wide as the Ustads (maestros) brought it to the world stage. Tabla has a unique individuality that enables it to subtly follow a song in the background like a silent river with tiny eddies now and then. When it comes to the front stage as a solo instrument, the boldness catches you off balance. At times it drenches you by raining treble notes and sometimes it awakens you from the trance by the thunder of the bass.  Learning Tabla is learning magic of fingers.

One of the greatest reliefs of being a Tabla student is that you manage to produce some nice sounds from the instrument on the first day itself.  Practice is a must.  At first you might find your hands getting tired quickly.  As you progress the tiredness will go away and playing Tabla becomes a joy.

Listen to the magic fingers of Ustad Zakir Hussain

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Mural Painting

Here is an experience that is relaxing and rewarding at the same time!

Mural Painting is believed to be advanced from the ritualistic ‘Kalamezhuthu’, drawing forms of Goddesses with colour powders. The early murals are found in caves, palaces and temples scattered around south India. Traditionally the artists used natural colours, brush made out of a grass and a surface prepared with lime, tender coconut water and other similar material.  The paintings are inspired by ‘Dhyana Shlokas’ or the verses describing the religious texts such as Bhagavad geetha or Mahabharatha(m). The characters such as Gods, Goddesses, demons, ‘Yekshis’ or humans appear in a very stylised form in the murals. The curly style is followed even in the sky, trees, flowers, animals and other decorations filled as the backdrop of every painting.

You will start with drawing different types of eyes, ornaments used on the charecters, flowers and so on.  This initial stage is about mastering the components of the paintings. Later you will learn to wash them with yellow and  draw the lines with red, then fill spaces with green or red and finally finish with black lines.  The shading is an interesting process.  In a mural painting class time passes in a jiffy. You will be using pencil, paper, canvas, water colour or acrylic colours for the lessons.

As with every Indian art form Mural Painting is also about improvisation. Once you master the technique, who knows, you might have a different perspective on what you paint as an artist. We know artists who have adapted mural style for their paintings. Though the subject can be a modern village of Kerala, the style remains traditional mural!

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Mridangam

If you have listened to Carnatic music concerts or watched Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam, you have listened to the resonating rhythem of Mridangam.  Its the major accompaniment of Classical music and dance of south India.  Believed to be invented by ‘Nandikeshan’, Lord Shiva’s assistant, Mridangam was used for Shiva Thandavam (the extreme dance trance sometimes Lord Shiva enters into).

Compared to Tabla, the popular percussion instrument from Hindusthani music, Mridangam demands rigorous practice.  As they say, you have to bring out the notes with practice.  Learning Mridangam needs a lot of patience, practice and listening.  Don’t get disappointed if you don’t manage to make the notes sound the way you want it.  Keep practicing, they will come out.  There is a point where the notes start to come out proper and you will not even realise what you had been doing wrong.  Once you pass this face, there is no going back!

If you want to take Mridangam serious, take some time every year so that you can master the instrument.

We got a student practicing on this video.

Kerala Tourism dot org has a beautiful video on How Mridangam is made!

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Cooking Health

El vientre reglas de la mente  (The belly rules the mind)  ~Spanish Proverb

Kitchen is the greatest laboratory of all! The moment we discovered what fire can do, the experiments started and it is still going on! Look at the diversity of food we have even in a small area!  Kitchen is not just about preparing food, Its about preservation, storage, prevention of pests, preparing home remedies…

Hence our cooking classes are focused on how to cook health in kitchen (without compromising on taste of course!) The curriculum includes the pros and cons of using different types of vessels to sustainable cooking practices.   Activities include visiting the market, processing units and if it is the farming  season a trip to our natural farm where  everything we grow are chemical free!

Cooking is fun, cooking health is rediscovering fun!

 

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Kathakali

Kathakali is the ancient theater form of Kerala. Inspired by Kutiyattam, the Sanskrit drama and Ramanattam Kathakali has come a long way from both of them. Kathakali is one of the rare art forms which includes a diversity of other art forms.

It has music, rhythm, painting, wood carving, carpentry, martial arts and what not! Its a world of diversity!

The first lessons start with foot work, basically stamping the ground in rhythm prompted my the master. Though you might find it a bit tiring on the first day, be assured, you will be carried away by the magic of the body movements, eye exercises and other lessons. Its a rewarding experience to know even a little of this ancient theater form.

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Kathakali Make-up (Chutti)

Imagine that mud pot is the artist's face!

Kathakali uses one of the most elaborate make-up techniques and costume. It takes hours to finish Kathakali makeup. Kathakali make-up artists have innovated new techniques and modernised some aspects of the same. However, most of the colours used in Kathakali make-up are natural.
Your first lessons will be on a mud pot (instead of someone’s face)

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Kathakali Music

Kathakali Music is the voice of Kathakali. It is the singer who describes the scenes and present the dialogues for the characters. If you have watched a Kathakali performance, you must have noticed the role of music and rhythm in Kathakali, especially the involvement of the singer.

Kathakali music belongs to the Sopana category of music. It is more rhythm oriented so as to enhance the acting on the stage.

Compared to Carnatic Music, Kathakali Music is more about improvisation than following a structure.

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Carnatic Music Vocal

Carnatic music is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions; the other sub-genre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian and Islamic influences in North India. In contrast to Hindustani music, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gayaki (singing) style.

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Yoga

The ancient Indian culture of Yoga presented to us by the sages is based on essential human requirements, not only to gain physical health but also for the achievement of higher aims of life. The World Health Organization defines health as physical, mental, intellectual, social and spiritual health. Yoga is the only way to achieve such holistic health. Practice of a Yogic lifestyle and doing our duties without expecting benefit, will easily help us towards this. Yoga just as the name says is the union or harmony of our dimensions and keeps mentally and physically stable. We need this to keep ourselves free from stress in this fast-paced life.

The ultimate spiritual benefit of Yoga is the realization that we and everything else in the universe are part of the same energy. The world needs this because then there would be no more wars based on differences of caste, race, sex or wealth.

Check out the Announcements link to keep updated about the dates for Intensive and Teacher’s Training Course at the Center.

The classes will be lead by Swami Brahmanand (Saji Ramaswamy), master at erstwhile Vijnana Kalavedi, whose vast experience and learning has taken thousands of students all over the world into the mysteries of Yoga.