KOCHI:The fast-moving life in a metro like Kochi is taking the sheen out of the warmth and loving care of togetherness, feel many. But still there are a few brotherhoods in the city which are active and setting an example for the promotion of cultural and artistic values of the state.
One such cultural centre is the Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram (CSK) in Edappally, named after the great poet of Malayalam, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai. According to the promoters of CSK, it is not only a cultural centre, but a centre which embraces the whole gamut of arts in its realistic colours.
The place where CSK is situated was once a piece of marshy land with a big pond in its centre. It was in 1977, when Krishnakumar was the District Collector of Ernakulam, that the idea of constructing a memorial there for the great poet Changampuzha. Accordingly, in 1977, the then Chief Minister C Achutha Menon laid the foundation stone for the Changampuzha Park.
A total of one acres and 30 cents of land was acquired for the purpose.
The park was managed by the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) and it was during the tenure of K Balachandran as the chairman of GCDA that the much- awaited revamp of the park took place. Moving ahead from the idea of a mere park, the venue was turned into a cultural centre. Balachandran held a meeting with the residents of Edappally and mooted the idea which the people readily agreed to. Along with the cultural centre, they also proposed a proper monument for Changampuzha there. As a result, in 1997, the CSK was formed and was registered under the Charitable and Cultural Societies Act .
At present, the activities of CSK are governed by a 24-member executive committee elected for a three-year term. The members of the committee include both men and women. The GCDA is extending its financial support to the CSK to pay the staff who are looking after the affairs of the centre. The former inauguration of the present cultural centre was done in 1997 by noted critic Sanu Master. The biggest event, which turned out to be a milestone for the centre, was the ‘Viswakalasangamam’ held in 2001. The event saw the participation of famous artists and sculptors from all over the world. Most of the present seating and structures carved out of stones were contributed by those artists. The event also encouraged the office-bearers of CSK to organise more programmes of that sort. As a result, CSK has turned into a cultural forte of the state.
The Changampuzha Park is a now a major open space in the city. A majority of the residents in the area prefer the park for their morning and evening walks, as a place to relax, a perfect stage to show case their artistic talents, a space to enjoy rare artistic performances, a venue for their friendly gatherings and moreover a place where their kids can have fun and enjoy their play time.
“We have not axed any trees but have planted a lot of saplings to preserve the green belt. Now, we have plaques with the verses by great poets placed in various spots in the park. We also planted plantains in reference to the poem ‘Vazhakkula’ by Changampuzha,” said C V Mohan Bose, the secretary of CSK.
There are a total of eight units or wings under CSK. At present, there are more than 1,500 active members. The membership fee (lifetime) for cultural centre is Rs 3,000 . For units like Kathakali, Nritham and others, Rs 200 will have to be paid. So, for lifetime membership on all units, one will have to pay Rs 4,400. Senior citizens will have to pay Rs 150 extra for senior citizen’s forum.
Interesting Events Galore
Senior Citizens’ Forum
The core element of CSK is the Senior Citizens’ Forum which is active and alive. It helps in creating a bond between the members who have crossed the age of 60. The forum is a perfect venue for senior citizens to meet with like-minded people, discuss issues, and play indoor games like carrom and chess. Free medical check-up is arranged for senior citizens every first Sunday of each month.
“On their birthdays, we will greet each senior citizen member by going to their homes. We will also invite birthday holders to the cultural centre and will honour them,” said Mohan Bose.
The Senior Citizen Forum at present has nearly 600 active members. Anybody above 60 years can join the Forum by paying a membership fee of Rs 150. “The senior members will never feel that they are old or getting old because they will be actively engaged in the activities of the centre. We also give importance to the health of the members. So, smoking and drinking are strictly prohibited on the premises of the centre,” he added. The cultural centre is also a venue for the music programmes led by senior citizens. Senior citizens, including ladies, will sing the songs and sometimes the instruments will be played by the youngsters.
Kathakali Aswadana Sadassu
The cultural centre is a venue for Kathakali performances every year. It is one of the very few venues in the city where the greatest art form of Malayalam is performed. As a result, people from suburbs, including Tripunithura and Thikkakkara, come to Changampuzha Park to enjoy Kathakali performances. For the people to enjoy Kathakali better, the office-bearers of CSK recently also organised an awareness programme on the art form.
Sangeetha Sadassu and Nritha Aswadana Sadassu
According to the managing committee, last year alone the venue had hosted a total of 22 Carnatic music concerts. “The Sangeetha Nataka Akademi had expressed its willingness to perform here every year. The major reason for its interest is the discipline of the audience and the support of the managing committee,” he added. Along with that, last year, CSK also hosted Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniyattam performances by notable artists. The programmes at the venue are totally free of cost for the public.
Those talents who had stopped dancing after their marriage and other personal issues are also finding CSK a platform to revive their dreams as the venue will provide them with an opportunity to perform.
Every month, the ‘pusthaka vicharam’, similar to a book review is organised at CSK. A discourse on selected books will be conducted. The sessions are led by eminent scholars. “Last month, it was Malayattoor’s ‘Verukal’ while R K Narayan’s ‘Guide’ was the book reviewed in March,” Mohan Bose added.
Vicharotsavam is organised once every three months. Moderated by experts, the programme is an analysis of topics that are centred on contemporary issues. Current affairs, issues and changes in socio-political realm are discussed here.
It is a venue for budding talents and aspiring poets to present their poems. Those experienced and aspiring poets can recite their poems here. After reciting the poems, experts and audiences will evaluate the poem.
One of the most vibrant units under CSK is the Aksharasloka sadassu which organised every third Sunday of each month. Participants between the age of 6 and 60 participate in the event. “Usually, we have nearly 60 participants for Aksharaslokam. Special training will also be given to the fresh talents,” Bose added.