Children at a very young age, usually when they turn seven or thereabouts, are initiated into Kalaripayattu. Beginning this early gives them the advantage of lending their supple bodies to the long hours as well as the demanding rigour of daily exercises and training, without suffering too much strain. But there are exceptional individuals who despite taking to Kalaripayattu rather late in life – in their mid – or late twenties – have proven their worth and become acclaimed combatants and gurus.
Astrologers are consulted and an auspicious day is selected for the initiation ceremony. Sometimes, parents simply prefer to formally introduce their wards to Kalaripayattu when the programme begins at the centre. On the designated day, the kalari is decorated with festoons of tender coconut leaves; and the Poothara and the Guruthara with flowers. Plantain trunks laden with fruits are erected on both sides of the entrance. A naazhi or nira naazhi [traditional measure] filled with rice grains are placed on a small banana leaf. It is customary to place other puja items too besides it – betel leaves and arecanut on one sliver of banana leaf; beaten rice, puffed rice, plantains, jaggery, raisins and tender coconut in another; holy ash and sandal paste in yet another. A kindi [spouted jug] holding consecrated water is also placed close by. Camphor, sandal sticks and other incense sticks are lit to spread fragrance all around.
Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, Park View, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India - 695 033
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