KOCHI: For Edappally Sarasamma teacher (Sarasamma K Nair), the Kavyakeli (poem recitation) training is more active during the lockdown days, as the parents want their kids to improve their Malayalam language skills. When the training sessions went fully online, her class strength reached 130, comprising students from across the world.
The retired teacher started the Kalari, due to her longing to be active in the world of poetry - reading, writing and reciting. Slowly, it started attracting people, especially parents who understood that their children were not getting enough knowledge in the mother tongue from their schools.
“Though there were followers for Aksharaslokam, the takers for Kavyakeli were less. In 1979, when Vyloppilli raised this issue with the then director of public education R Ramachandran Nair, who was also a language enthusiast, Kavyakeli was introduced as a competition item in the school youth festivals with the support of then education minister TM Jacob. In the beginning, it was not in an organised ‘Mukthakam’ (completing meaning in eight lines) form. I found there was a need to find and popularise Mukthakams to keep the original form of Kavyakeli,” Sarasamma said.
After retiring from Government Model High School, Palakuzha in 2000, the very next year, she started the Kavyakeli Kalari at her house with 10 to 15 students. Her strongest supporter is husband Kesavan Nair, who was a Malayalam teacher and helped her compile and understand the poems better. Elder son Pradeep was also interested in competitions and won prizes throughout his school period. However, it was her younger son Arun, who bought her a smartphone and helped her set up her WhatsApp groups to spread her knowledge online in 2010.
Now, her Kavyakeli Kalari (training space) has turned into an active WhatsApp group.Eevry Sundays she will send the lessons. Sarasamma also has a YouTube channel Kavitharamam, and some of the poems have crossed one million views. “In schools, Malayalam is not getting enough exposure and hence, parents are sending their children to me. So, like in other subjects, extra training in language is also needed,” Sarasamma added.