The River and the Raconteur

The River and the Raconteur

Sarath Okay.R., a younger UN local weather change crusader from Kerala, is preserving the communities and tradition fostered by the Bharathapuzha or Nila.


Native trainers bathe their elephants at Bharathapuzha river. Picture By: Dreame Walker/Shutterstock

The earliest reminiscences of 27-year-old Sarath Okay.R. are that of being enchanted by a neighbour’s rendition of nadan paattu (folks songs in Malayalam). He was all of two however remembers what he’d felt that day—the people tune imprinted on his toddler thoughts and conjured a euphoric emotion in him.

Throughout Kerala, nadan paattu are sung by fishermen whereas rowing their boats, within the kitchen whereas chopping greens, or by the solitary traveller traversing the mighty rivers of this South Indian state.

Twenty years since that day, Sarath now finds himself a part of a handful of younger ecowarriors chosen by the Indian chapter of UN’s Local weather Change wing as a part of their #WeTheChangeNOW marketing campaign. He presently presides over the youth-training wing of “Vayali”, a Kerala-based folklore collective that works in direction of preserving the land’s native tradition.

Over an exhaustive chat with Nationwide Geographic Traveller India, he shared the genesis of his work for Nila, the intersection of folklore and atmosphere and his childhood tryst with the highly effective sand-mining foyer within the state.


Sarath’s sustainability efforts are pushed in direction of preserving Kerala’s native tradition. Picture Courtesy: Sarath Okay.R.

What’s the “Buddies of Bharathapuzha” programme?

Whereas there have been many particular person initiatives geared toward rejuvenating our river Nila (Bharathapuzha), there was no cohesive crew effort. I had attended many conferences geared in direction of saving Nila together with Vinod Vayali (director of the Vayali group). The Pattambi conference that Vayali organised was attended by India’s “water man”, Rajendra Singh (environmentalist) — that was a turning level for me in understanding that little initiatives unfold throughout the area needed to be unified. There was the necessity for a targeted effort in direction of river rejuvenation. That’s how “Buddies of Bharathapuzha” was born.


At what age did you realise this was your calling? 

There was a time in my childhood after I would escort sand mining lorries to earn some fast pocket cash. I (and different kids that age) would monitor the world and notify the unlawful miners if cops arrived. It took me some time to know how detrimental this practise was for the river and the folks dwelling round it. It’s from this guilt that my motivation to do one thing for the river stemmed.


In what methods does the Vayali folklore curiosity you and why is it necessary in your conservation efforts?

Whenever you develop up watching darika performances, or shaniyattu that occurs each 4 years, or malavazhiyattam (a efficiency that lasts a complete day), the love for music and dance of the culturally wealthy turns into ingrained in you. The communities that stay on the shores of Nila have a historical past of practising arts and crafts. These are the Kuthampully handlooms (a big group of hand-weavers), Kathakali koppu nirmanam (the craft of kathakali equipment), Pulppaya neythu kendram (the one place in Kerala the place conventional grass mats are made), Tholpavakoothu (shadow puppetry utilizing leather-based puppets), Kumbara group (conventional pottery–they use mud that’s at the least 1.5m away from the river), Adakkaputhur Kannadi (mirror utilizing bell metallic craft).


What are the challenges the mission faces?

Getting younger folks on board. Many individuals could be part of, however most individuals wither away on the slightest sight of battle. Sustaining their curiosity ranges can also be troublesome. After every camp, we do get a few individuals who actively be part of our actions. Then, exams or politics are available the best way and all efforts go south. Fundraising is one other difficult half.


In what methods have your efforts helped improve the lives of individuals in your group? 

When kids return dwelling after our camps and begin working in direction of their desires to make a change, that’s my success. There are such a lot of children who began terrace gardens after our camps. Additionally, via our campaigns, now we have given a lift to the numerous crafts round Nila which I simply talked about. When the livelihood of those craftspeople will get sustained due to our publicity, all our efforts bear fruit.


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