The nuns’ story: In search of truth

Screening of the documentary film Ariyapedatha Jeevithangal  ( Unknown lives), which narrates the story of Malayalee teenage girls who migrated to West Germany half a century ago to join nunneries and

Published: 14th June 2018 03:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2018 03:01 AM   |  A+A-

During the shoot of Ariyapedatha Jeevithangal

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Screening of the documentary film Ariyapedatha Jeevithangal ( Unknown lives), which narrates the story of Malayalee teenage girls who migrated to West Germany half a century ago to join nunneries and formed the first ever Indian diaspora there, will be held on Friday. The film is scheduled to be screened by 4 pm at Mini Theatre of Children’s Park in Kochi.  

The documentary film Ariyappedatha Jeevithangal is a travelogue of the life of Malayalee girls who go to Germany for the first time to join in nunneries. Shot in bilingual (German and Malayalam), it is written and directed jointly by Raju E Raphael and K Rajagopal, and Jose Punnamparambil carried out the research for the project. Prakash Rana helmed the camera and editing, while Sathyajith scored the background music. Cine Director K B Venu’s commentary is another attraction of the documentary. The film was produced by Dinesh Kallarackal under the banner of Raphael and Menon Media, India.

It was in 1963 January, the first batch of 21 Malayalee teenage girls embarked their ship to Germany via Italy to join different nunneries there, which were then facing acute shortage of new admissions due to lack of vocation ( the divine call to become nuns) among German society. This was reportedly the starting of the Malayalee migration to Germany, which is in a full swing now.  Following this, many more groups of Kerala girls migrated to West Germany in the coming years and by 1970 the figure crossed 800.

The migration process suddenly stopped in 1970 July when the London based newspaper published a controversial news report terming the Malayalee girl’s migration to West Germany as human trafficking. The allegation was that these girls were used as slaves in German convents, old age home and hospitals and they were forced to work as cleaners and labourers. The documentary Ariyapedatha Jeevithangal also narrates the realities behind the controversy.

Shocked media reports published in national and international dailies published from different corners of the world followed the controversy and carried a number of similar news. Certain newspaper reports even alleged that some of these girls were forced to prostitution. The Vatican was forced to release a press statement denying it but later admitted that some mistakes did happen. The documentary makers travelled extensively to document the controversy.

P K Michael Tharakan, the chairperson of Kerala Council of Historical Research will inaugurate the screening and veteran journalist K P Sethunath will deliver the keynote address. Entry to the documentary screening is free and one screening will be held at 6 pm too.


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