Archive for the 'Festivals' Category

My life in Devala

Friday, September 26th, 2014

My name is Kousalya and I am from Devala area. I live in Valavayal Village. I am studying in 9th Standard at Holy Cross Convent Matriculation School, Devala. My tribe’s name is ‘Paniya’. Many, many years ago my grand parents and great grandparents lived in my village too. Our village people are very kind people, they have a mind of helping everyone.

In my village live many children. Usually during the holidays they play together. In my village there is one small pond. During the holiday, children usually play in the pond and catch fish. We also bathe, wash clothes etc. there.


Near our village there is a forest, sometimes elephants come to our village to eat bananas where we have planted banana plants. At night when the elephants come, our village people get fearful.


In the Paniya tribe, we pray to God Kuliyan. We dance to the god during March and April. In these months people come to our village from nearby Paniya villages to pray to Kuliyan God and dance with us.  Our Paniya dances are called Mari Kali and Thaya Kali. Music is also played the Pullicheenam (a small wind instrument) and Thudi (type of drum). Only boys and men play this instrument.

In my home there is my mother, Seetha, my sister Gowri and myself. My moher goes to work to look after my sister and me. My sister Gowri is studying nursing (2nd year) in Ashwini hospital. I like my school and my

family and my friends.

My aim is to become a doctor. I like science subjects very much because I love my science teacher, Ms Sindhu.

My hobbies are playing, drawing, dancing, chatting with my friends. My friend Rinsha lives in Kerala, I love her very much and I miss her.

When I finish my studies and get a good job I am to look after my mother well.

I am very proud to share about my village, friends and family. Thankyou friends!


By, Kousalya.


Happy Onam!

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Happy Onam to all of you!

This month the people of Kerala celebrate a Festival called Onam.
We celebrate it aswell as we life so close to Kerala.
You may have read about it before in the last years as it is always a big event here!

In Kerala it is celebrated for ten days and this year it had its biggest festival day yesterday, on the 16th of September.
Onam is celebrated by Hindus as a harvest festival and to honor a mythical king called Mahabali, who according to the legends ruled Kerala during the golden ages of the state.

“When Maveli ruled the land, All the people were equal.
And people were joyful and merry;

They were all free from harm.
There was neither anxiety nor sickness,
Deaths of children were unheard of,
There were no lies,
There was neither theft nor deceit,
And no one was false in speech either.
Measures and weights were right;
No one cheated or wronged his neighbor.
When Maveli ruled the land,
All the people formed one casteless races”

(This is the translation of an Onam song about Mahabali)

It is believed that the king is so much attached to his kingdom that he comes annually from the underworld to see how they are living happily.
To welcome this king the people put beautiful flower-mandalas called Pookalam or Atham outside their houses and temples.

In Vidyodaya School we celebrated Onam on Friday by singing Onam songs
(all these songs are sung in Malayalam, the language of Kerala) and putting Athams on our school ground.
The kids of all age groups were divided up to put seven different Athams. In the days before the kids had collected all kinds of flowers and leaves which they were now cutting into pieces to have a big variety of colors. Everyone could be creative in inventing new styles.

During the short Onam-holidays the kids visit their families
and celebrate Onam together.
Gifts like new clothes or money are exchanged.

Yesterday the whole family gathered for a big Onam meal. The food is traditionally served on Banana leaves and contains many Onam specialties and sweets like rice payasam (rice pudding).

If you go to the Hindu temple during this days you will find monks playing big drums which are only used on festival days.

The women in Kerala will wear white Saris with golden applications, called Onam Saris or Kerala Saris.

In many places you will find a parade moving through the town with  people dressed like king Mahabeli and the Kerala-  special TeyyattamsTeyyattams are actors of Kerala’s ritual theater.  They are dressed in broad colourful costumes with crowns and masks  and a lot of makeup. The make up let their faces look a little bit  grotesque but it is part of an ancient tradition.

I hope this helps you to imagine how colorful and versatile the Onam  festival is! We hope everyone had a happy Onam! Greetings from    Gudalur!

Class 9 – Our trip to Ranchi

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

Hi Larkrise School - thanks very much for telling us about your food. It was fun to compare and contrast it with ours! And hello to Warden Park School – how great that you celebrated Diwali – the food sounds delicious and the tiger masks looked fantastic. You must know that tigers are our national animal. We feel very privileged to have wild tigers living in our area, though recently a tiger killed a calf in Chembakolli, which means that the owner of the calf has lost a cow that would have provided him with milk in the future. On the other hand, the deer population is kept in check by the tigers, which is good because otherwise they graze on the farmers’ crops. The ways in which humans and wild animals share space is a really interesting topic to discuss.

This week, our blog is coming to you from the students of Class 9, as we wanted to tell you about a trip we made recently. This is us with three other members of the group who went on the trip.

In order, you can see (back row left-right) Tariq (one of our supervisors), Srudilaya, Prasad, Mridul, Priya (one of our teachers), then (front row left-right) Nibuna, Badichi, Vijimol (one of our supervisors) and Nandini. Those of us in Class 9 are aged between 14 and 16.

The group trip we made was to Ranchi (the capital of the state of Jharkhand) in central India, to attend a tribal (adivasi) festival being held by the Central University of Jharkhand. Many of us were travelling on the train for the first time, and for almost everyone it was the longest journey we have made. Ranchi is over 2000 kilometres away from Gudalur – longer than the UK is from one end to the other. The train journey took over 40 hours and there were nearly 90 stops! During the night we slept in berths, and in the day we played cards and chatted. Here’s our train:

39 of us went altogether from Gudalur. As well as the six of us and our supervisors, a lot of tribal people from our community attended the event. Our ages ranged from 14 to 65 and we represented all four tribes from the Nilgiri Hills: Paniya, Bettakurumba, Mullukurumba, Kattunaickan. You can see our whole group below.

We were really excited to arrive in Ranchi and to be staying in the university. This was the sign that greeted us on our arrival. The artwork had been done specially for the festival.

The festival was called Akhra, which refers to the place in  a village where adivasi people meet for cultural and social activities. Thousands of tribal people had come for the event, mainly from across  India but also from some other countries, like Bhutan. The festival lasted for three days. Here you can see the stage used for the event, with some of the delegates in traditional costume:

It was fascinating to see all different kinds of tribal clothing and accessories from around the country, like these beads and footwear from North India:

The festival was a fantastic celebration of tribal culture. There was a lot of delicious food, with specialities like rice cooked in bamboo  leaves, steamed momo dumplings, and butter tea. There were screenings of films made about and by adivasis and also a lot of traditional crafts being demonstrated. We met weavers from Jahrkhand, Assam and Nagaland and they all showed us their different weaving processes and patterns. You can see one type of weaving here:

We also saw a lot of  Adivasi artwork and we really enjoyed a photography exhibition of adivasi life from all over the country. Vidyodaya School had its own exhibition too – a lot of the photos we displayed were ones we had taken of Chembakolli and the forest. One of the best things about the festival was all the singing and dancing that took place. Lots of groups demonstrated their dances and then let everyone join in and learn. You can see some of the dancers below.

Sometimes the dancing lasted long in to the evening! The beat of the drums made everyone want to get involved. (As you can see above, there were some  huge drums, made mostly from animal hides and wood.) We also taught some of our tribal dances to other people at the festival. The Paniya dance was especially popular.

We were really sad when the event came to end, but we were looking forward to coming back to Gudalur and telling everyone at school about what we’d seen and done. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it, and that you like the photos we took.

Have you had any good school trips recently?

Images: ActionAid/ACCORD/AMS/VBVT 9th Standard


Blog 1 from Warden Park school

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Hello! We’re Elephants and Tigers class from Warden Park school

We have been learning about India this term and last week was Diwali so we cooked lots of food; aloo gobi, rice, mango lassi and coconut barfi.

Preparing food for our curries

It was delicious. Not everyone liked the curry because it had cauliflower in it! We made some beautiful decorations out of coloured paper and hung them in the classroom. Earlier in the week, we made diva pots, painted them in bright colours and put a candle in them and lit them.

We got into our party clothes and we set the table and sat down and enjoyed our food. We played some bangra music whilst we were eating.

Enjoying our curries!

We made a tiger mask for a drama teacher called Mr. Holland, but he was acting as a person called Daniel. The reason he was doing this is because he is teaching us about a village in India and we were trying to work out how to save the tigers in that village. He was teaching us about tigers because we are tiger class.

Grrr! Our tiger masks!

Earlier in the term at the start of our topic, we had a visit from a man called Ashok who worked for a charity in India. He came to ask us to fundraise for the charity and showed us how to wrap a turban around our head. It was really interesting.

Learning how to wrap a turban

We would love to hear from you about what you have been learning at school and what you do at the weekend. In my free time this weekend I went roller skating with my friends and got an ice cream and went to the park. Sometimes, I go to my dad’s house and play with moshi monsters. I always look forward to going home to my dog, she is always so happy to see me!

Onam Celebrations

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Hello again – we hope your new school year has started well.

We’ve just come back to school after a week’s holiday for the festival of Onam, which is celebrated all across this part of India. Onam is a time when we are thankful for everything nature provides us with, but it’s also connected to a legend about a great king called Mahabali.

Many years ago, the story goes, Mahabali ruled over his people and was very popular with them. However, he allowed his kingdom to grow too big, and the gods became angry. In the end, Mahabali was banished to an underworld by the gods, but they agreed to let him return once a year to visit his people and his land. Onam is the time when Mahabali returns to his kingdom for his annual visit. To welcome him, people decorate the area outside the front of their homes with beautiful flower arrangements. These are called Attam, or Pookalam.

On the last day at school before the holidays, we made flower displays all around the school grounds and inside some of the rooms. Building them takes time, as you can see from the pictures of us below.

First, we sort all the leaves and petals that we have brought in to school, before assembling them in to patterns.

Our teachers sometimes help us with the intricate designs.

Arrangement 2

Attention to detail is needed to perfect the arrangements.

Then we can sit back and admire our work!

When we had all finished making the Attam, we gathered together to sing songs, and some of the older girls performed a traditional dance. Then we went outside to play Kabbadi, which is a very popular game here. There are two opposing teams, and each takes turns to send a raider over to the other side, to try to tackle their opponents. Then the raider must return safely to their side without being tackled themselves. The raiders are supposed to chant “Kabbadi, kabbadi” very fast while they run!

The boys played first…

…then the girls had their turn.

Both matches were great fun, and a good way to start our holidays. Now we’re in school again for the new term and settling back in to the routine. Next time perhaps we can tell you more about our typical school day.

Do you have any festivals that you will be celebrating soon? And what sports do you play at school?

Bye for now!

Images: ActionAid/ACCORD/AMS




Monday, November 7th, 2011

Putheri is a festival celebrated in Southern India. It is one of the most important festivals for the adivasi tribes in our district. The meaning of the word ‘Putheri’ is new rice. The festival symbolizes the maturing of new rice at the start of a new season. We ask the gods to bless our crops and give us a good harvest once the plants have matured.

This year Putheri fell on the 27th October. At this time, the Village Elder looks at the paddy growing in the field and declares that new rice is starting to form. To celebrate, some paddy is harvested and then placed in front of the village temple as an offering. We also sing and dance.




As a tradition, sweet Pal Payasam (a pudding made with rice and milk) is prepared with new rice for this auspicious occasion.

Another custom is to harvest a little of the paddy crop and bind the stalks in small bunches. The bunches are distributed among the villagers and hung outside the houses, as good luck charm, for prosperity.

Rice is a staple food in India. We eat it every day, in savoury and sweet dishes. There are many other names for rice, depending on its colour (white, yellow, or black) and how it is cooked. There are many paddy fields around our villages. Paddy is the unhusked rice that grows in the fields.

Ploughing and hoeing: First you have to prepare the field by loosening the soil and levelling it out. You also need to dig a drainage system for the water. We plant paddy towards the end of the rainy season so that the fields are well irrigated.

Sowing: Next you have to sow rice seedlings in rows in the field.

Weeding: The field must be weeded so that the paddy can grow.

Harvesting: When the paddy is ready, we cut the stalks and collect them.

Threshing: In the village, we separate the seed hull from the rest of the plant, by crushing, sieving and sorting the parts that we want to collect.

Hulling: The rice grains are found inside the seed hull (the outer layer) so we remove the hull, leaving brown rice. If the outer layers of bran are also removed, we have white rice.



This is a song from the Mullakurumba tribe that we sometimes sing at school. Two groups take turns to sing lines of this song):

  1. In your village, what are you doing?
  2. In our village we are ploughing
  1. How is the ploughing done?
  2. Like this and like that
  1. In your village, what are you doing?
  2. In our village, we are planting paddy seeds
  1. How is the sowing done?
  2. Like this and like that.


  • We are hoeing
  • We are sowing
  • We are harvesting
  • We are threshing
  • We are hulling
  • We are polishing
  • The rice is ready!!!

We hope you had a good half term holiday.  Enjoy singing our song!
Bye for now.

Vidyodaya School.


Monday, October 24th, 2011

Dussehra is a Hindu festival which is celebrated across India. During nine nights and ten days, the nine avatars of the goddess Skakti are worshipped. On the seventh day we celebrated Saraswati Puja at school, because Saraswati is the goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom.

Hindu mythology can be interpreted in different ways. One of the stories is that there was once a wild buffalo demon. His boon was that every time he was killed, he came back to life as soon as his head hit the ground. The gods became worried that this demon was becoming too powerful, so they decided to kill him. Shakti tries to kill him in each of her forms and she is finally successful on the last day, when all of her avatars together manage to stop his head from touching the ground.


On the day of Saraswati Puja, when we worship Saraswati, we usually worship books because they represent knowledge. Books are put out for puja in houses, traditional nursery schools, and in temples. This year, we did something different at school because knowledge is not only learnt from books. We also learn from other activities, including games and team work.



This year we played lots of different games that we could learn something from. For most of them we had to work together as a team. For example, we played charades and we built houses of cards.

There was another game similar to tug-of-war, where four people each had to pull in different directions, towards the packet of biscuits that was closest to them. In the end, we found out that the best solution, instead of everyone pulling in different directions, was for us to cooperate, to go walk around together and to pick up all four packets!


Learning Centre 1 did a drama. It was very funny to see them dressed up in their costumes.



Finally, the teachers made some food for us, and we finished school early. It was a very nice day.


On the 26th October we will be on leave from school to celebrate another Hindu festival, Diwali. Diwali is known as the festival of lights and represents the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, people light lamps, visit temples, crack fireworks, wear new clothes and share sweets with family members and friends.

Wall Newspaper Activities

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Hello Shrewton Primary School and Hello All!
Onam is a festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. We use the Malayalam calendar to see when Onam falls:  Last year we celebrated in August but this year it was on the 9th September. We celebrated at school before the holidays and then we had a week off school to enjoy the festival. This week, at school, we made wall newspapers with articles about the Onam celebrations.


This is the story of Onam:  There was once a demon king called Mahabali who ruled the state of Kerala. Although he was a demon, he was a good ruler and he was very popular among his subjects. The Gods were jealous of Mahabali because such kindness from a demon was making them look bad. They had a meeting with the King of Gods, Lord Vishnu, to get advice from him. Lord Vishnu dressed as a hermit and went to Mahabali’s palace to ask him for 3 feet of land. Mahabali agreed. With the first step, Lord Vishnu covered the entire kingdom, with the second step he covered heaven and hell. There was nowhere left for him to rest his foot at the end of the third step so Mahabali told Lord Vishnu to step on his head.


Mahabali’s last wish was to be able to rise to earth once a year, to visit his subjects. Onam is the day he rises to see the people of Kerala, and the celebrations are held to greet him. Ten days before Onam we begin making beautiful patterns on the ground, made with flowers, so that Mahabali sees them as he rises to earth.

On the day of Onam, we feast with our friends, we eat payasam sweets, we play games, we sing Onam songs and women perform a special dance called Thiruvathira.


We hope you enjoyed the story of Onam. Do you make wall newspapers in your school?

Bye for now.

Vidyodaya School.

Vishu Holidays

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Hello everyone!We are very happy because last week India won the cricket! This week we have a week off school. On the 13th April we have elections for Tamilnadu State and on the 14th April it is the Kerala New Year, Vishu.

Many of the Indian States have different calendars and celebrate the New Year at different times. In Tamil Nadu we have Pongal celebrations in January (see the blog we wrote in January) and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, they celebrated New Year last week. Although we are in Tamil Nadu, we are very close to the border with Kerala. Many of the adivasi families have close ties with neighbouring States and will be celebrating Vishu, even though it is a festival of the non-tribals in Kerala.

Vishu Kanu

Such ‘Vishu Kani’ is prepared in a typical Kerala family

Those of us who celebrate Vishu will get up at dawn on the 14th and we will prepare Vishukkani (see blog April 2010). We will bathe and we will wear new clothes and the elders in the family will give us some money. We will then go to the temple with our families and when we get home we will cook special dishes. We will visit our neighbours and we will sing and dance with them. We will also play cricket, hide and seek and kabadi with our friends.

“In our village, tribal people come together at the temple. While we are praying we will sing songs about God. The elders sing and dance fast and the children sing slower songs and dance slower too. There will be drums and a flute and we will dance around lanterns that burn on oil. Everyone will be happy and it will be very beautiful”

Nibuna. Group LC2.


“Our mothers and fathers will make special food for Vishu. First they will boil the water, wash the rice three times, and boil the rice until it is ready to eat. Then we will make sambar sauce using boiled lentils and vegetables with chilli powder, tumeric and salt. I enjoy the Vishu holidays because many people come to our house and we all eat together”

Nandini. Group LC2.

“On the 14th I will go with my family to the temple in our village. We will go in the morning and in the evening. The temple is as big as a house and it will be decorated with garlands and oil-burning lamps. It will look very nice at night. We will pray for a while and then we will walk around the temple quietly. Afterwards, I will burn fire-crackers with my friends and some children will dance on the stage. The next day we will go back to the temple in the evening and whoever sang and danced the day before will get prizes. I like the Vishu festival and the holidays”

Prasath. Group LC2.

Enjoy your holidays in the UK!

Bye for now.

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Blog 3 from Orchard House School, England

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Hello Chembakolli!

Two weeks ago we went on a school trip to a ship called H.Q.S. Wellington.

We took the District line tube. When we got on the ship, we looked at a map of the world.  We had to label seas and continents and locate the place of origin of goods like spices, cotton and silk. Most of the goods came from India!


Then, we split up into groups. We learnt how to communicate between ships. One of the methods was the Morse Code. We were also shown how to navigate a ship. We also found out what it was like to live aboard the Wellington.


During the past week we have been given parts in the end of year play called Gel.  It was very hard to choose a role but all the parts are great fun!

We are also going to the Isle of Wight. It is in the English Channel to the south of the UK. 

Do you go on school trips?

Do you have any pets?

This term the school started to collect money for the Microloan foundation. They are trying to break a new world record for the most pennies laid out in a line. The pennies will then go to women in Africa wanting to start jobs.

Last week we had a house netball tournament here at our home grounds where the different houses, De Morgan, Shaw, Hogarth and Godwin played netball matches against each other. Our houses are named after people who were famous in the art world and lived and worked in Chiswick. The winners of the competition were De Morgan.

Write to us soon.  We look forward to your replies!

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