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The dance of chess: Watch the game come alive in this riveting crossover

Chess Olympiad 2022 Speaking to TNM, Pudukkottai collector Kavitha Ramu who conceptualised and choreographed the viral video said, Chess pieces like the rook, kings and pawns naturally lent themselves to classical, folk and martial art forms. Saradha U Screengrab/ Twitter- CMO TamilNadu Effortlessly wielding the kombu (stick) and slaying stereotypes, women Silambam artistes take position as pawns in a recently released chess video, while Malyutham artistes draped in Veshti holding Gada (a type of club) take charge as the mighty rooks. Along with the queens and kings who look regal, Therukootu artistes adorned in vibrant costumes with exquisite makeup and ornaments inlaid with mirror work appear as bishops. In a fun crossover between the game of chess and Tamil Nadus folk and martial art forms, we also find Poikkal Kuthirai dancers taking charge as knights wearing colourful horse shaped sculptures around their waists. The various pieces in the chessboard come to life through the dancers and martial artists in the 3.48 minutes long video released by the Pudukkottai district administration to promote Chess Olympiad 2022. The video titled Chaturangam: A dance depiction, which was unveiled by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on July 27, has grabbed the attention of social media users who have been heaping praise on the team. Sharing the video, CM Stalin had tweeted, District administrations have taken various initiatives to promote #chessolympiad22. This beautiful video is by District Administration, Pudukkottai in which Classical, Folk, Mal Yutham and Silambam artists magically transport us to a World of creative fantasy, transforming into live Chess Characters, enacting the essence of the game in its true spirit. Helmed by Pudukkottai collector Kavitha Ramu, who is also a trained dancer, the title for the video has been inspired from the Indian version of chess known as Chaturangam, which roughly translates to four-limbed or four arms owing to ancient army divisions of cavalry, elephantry, chariotry, and infantry. Speaking to TNM about the conceptualisation of the video that has now raked in lakhs of views, Kavitha Ramu said, The idea for the video stems from the fact that I am a performing artist with 25 years of experience. When we were asked to make a video to promote chess, I immediately thought that we could create a video with a lasting impression through dance. Performing arts have ample scope for presenting a visual treat and based on the response for the video, we could see how it makes the message more impactful. Chess pieces like the rook, kings and pawns naturally lent themselves to classical, folk and martial art forms. Watch the video here: District administrations have taken various intiatives to promote #chessolympiad22. This beautiful video is by District Administration, Pudukkottai in which Classical, Folk, Mal Yutham and Silambam artists magically transport us to a World of creative fantasy, 1/2 pic.twitter.com/sQig1Ew675 CMOTamilNadu (@CMOTamilnadu) July 27, 2022 The black and white pieces dancing their way through an epic face off on the chess board, are accompanied by rousing background music and bolts of fire slashing through the backdrop, thus building the tension between both the sides. The audio team included KK Senthil Prasath, who ideated it along with Kesavan Chenda and other senior artists, Kavitha said. Much like the captivating visuals and music, the blue light on the white side and the warm yellow lights on the black side also add to the exquisiteness of the choreography. The breathtaking visuals were shot by Vijey Raj, while Naren helped me execute the dance as chess moves, Pudukkottai collector Kavitha shared. Even the title card of the video, which uses gold accents to evoke a sense of grandeur, was reminiscent of Game of Throness acclaimed title track, and earned praise from many. Dancer Priyadarshini, an alumna of Pudukottai Music school, essays the role of the black queen, while Sahana, an alumna of Chennais Adyar Music College is seen as the white queen. I spotted Priyadarshini at a women's day event and thought she would be apt once this idea was conceived. Sahana and I have been collaborating for a few years now, Kavitha said. Credit: Screengrab/ Twitter-@CMOTamilnadu Credit: Screengrab/ Kavitha Ramu Behind-the-scenes photos from the shoot. Credit: Kavitha Ramu Dancers Srinivas and Manikandan play the white and black kings respectively. Kavitha added that the Poikkal Kuthirai artistes featured in the video are from MPR Folk Arts Development centre, while silambam artistes from Thiruvallurs Murugakani Asans troupe appear as pawns guarding the kingdom on the chess board. Artistes from Purusai Duraisamy Kannappa Thambiran Paramparai Therukkootthu Mandram in Kancheepuram district formed the rest of the cast. The entire game is carried out within ten moves before we reach the climax of the video where one of the team checkmates the other. Interestingly, Kavitha Ramu quips that this part of the choreography had sparked a creative discussion among the artistes. I insisted on carrying out the original moves of chess, but other artists in the team felt that we could take creative liberties, she remarked. The video, which was filmed within the span of a day, ends with the black queen taking down the white king. The symbolism behind the video cannot be ignored. It was a conscious decision to underline the white king being defeated by the black queen. It was a shot that represented how we have to do away with the interpretation that white/fairness is more beautiful. It also had a gender angle, Kavitha observed. Notably, the colour black is often considered symbolic of the Dravidian identity. Social movements and political parties like the Dravidar Kazhagam, and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, for instance, have prominently used the colour black in its flags.

The News Minute 31 Jul 2022 7:09 pm

The Banyan turns the spotlight on art by people with mental health conditions

Art Titled A brush with madness, the exhibition displaying the works of Boston-based artist Preetha Mahadevan will be at Chennais Apparao Galleries. Saradha U Twitter/ KanimozhiDMK Preetha Mahadevan, an artist who lives with bipolar disorder, shares that she found painting therapeutic. She finds the soothing colours and calming patterns in her abstract bursts soothing during depression. And during her manic episodes, she says she gravitates towards stories of communities and environment. Her latest exhibition, which is currently being displayed at Chennais Apparao Galleries, includes 20 paintings. Titled A brush with madness, the exhibition displaying the work of Preetha, who is also an architect and baker, was launched by Member of Parliament Kanimozhi Karunanidhi on July 24. US Consul General Chennai, Judith Ravin, anthropologist Andrew Willford from Cornell University, and Vice-president of HCL Technologies Srimathi Shivshankar were also present at the event. Preetha tells TNM that she turned to art-based therapy in 2019. When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and an eating disorder, there were different forms of therapy that I could undertake. I was more drawn towards art-based therapy and I ended up painting everyday. Despite being allergic to paints, I continued going there. The experience was very powerful, says Preetha. Soon, she turned to digital paintings and shared her artwork on social media everyday, and also shared it with friends with similar interests. Some of the Boston-based artists paintings view human life from the perspective of birds and question whether humans have made the planet co-habitable for other species. Others reflect on the concept of judgement such as what would happen if the moment when a human being passes a judgement against another belonging to a social minority for being different could be frozen. Launch event of 'A brush with madness'. Credit: The Banyan Giving space to art by people with mental health conditions Preetha, who got acquainted with Vandana Gopikumar, co-founder of The Banyan, by sharing her work on social media, got the opportunity to be associated with the organisation for this exhibition. The Banyan, a non-governmental organisation, is widely known for providing mental health services in institutional as well as community settings for people coming from distressed situations such as homelessness and poverty. The Banyan has a slate of projects such as A Brush with Madness, that will include poetry, photography, prose, paintings, and testimonials from persons living with mental health issues and members of minority communities. Vandana explained how showcasing my work in Chennai could inspire persons living with mental health conditions who might want to pursue art professionally or as a hobby, or turn to art-based therapy. It can be a very transformative journey for a lot of people, Preetha adds. Preethas work has been identified as a part of art brut or outside art - art movements - founded by 19th century sculptor and painter Jean Debuffet. Jean Debuffes art brut movement was based in his affinity towards art by psychiatric patients, prisoners, and children, which did not fall in line with the established aesthetic norms of the time. Sixty of Preethas paintings have been included as a part of a coffee table book that goes by the same title as the exhibition, and 20 of her paintings are being exhibited at Nungambakkams Apparao Galleries. Preethas exhibition - A brush with Madness - is just the first in what The Banyan hopes to make into a larger series called Musings of the Mind which will include more exhibitions, poetry, spoken word, and other art by different people in the future. The series is based principles of Jeans art movement which highlight the aesthetic and artistic sensibilities of artists living with mental health conditions. Initially, Preetha was wary of having her work associated with the phrase, a brush with madness, which is often used in association with painter Vincent Van Goghs works. But I decided to let go of that fear. The brush is metaphorically used to refer to the duration of time here. So, we all collectively decided to go with this title, she says. , @banyanbalm , 'Musings of Mind' . 'A Brush with Madness' , .(1/3) pic.twitter.com/s9Z8pJxCr0 Kanimozhi () (@KanimozhiDMK) July 24, 2022 Plans for a Museum of the Mind Sonu Apparao, the head of the gallery, shares that she was looking for a project through which they would be able to display the work of artists living with mental health conditions. I believe that the moment there is some energy in the art, there is a difference. In this case, Preetha using painting as a form of therapy was an added angle and falls in line with the art brut movement. I have also been wanting to team up with The Banyan for quite some time. I was travelling all over the world, looking at art of this nature, and wanting to find similar kinds of programmes here. This was the perfect time to team up and the experience was serendipitous, she remarks. For a long time, we have been attempting to build a repository of lived experiences from the global south, Vandana explains. If you look at international declarations or policies, they are all inspired by the lives of English-speaking, privileged people, and lack the granularity that we feel people living with mental health and psychosocial disabilities, as well as persons from minority communities deserve. The artwork and performances featured in the Musings of the Mind series will eventually be documented and consolidated into a Museum of the Mind, along the lines of the ones that already exist in London. The Bethlem Museum of the Mind, which showcases the history of Bethlem Royal Hospital, hosts exhibitions of contemporary artists who are current or former patients. This project is currently being developed by The Banyan along with experts like Sanjeev Jain and Pratima Murthy from the Department of Psychiatry at NIMHANS, and psychiatrists Alok Sarin and Anirudh Kala. One on hand, it will be focusing on the journey of psychiatry and how mental hospitals have transitioned. On the other hand, it will act as a reflection of the progress and evolution of marginalised voices who will be able to use art forms such as poetry, spoken word, books, etc. as expression pathways, Vandana adds. Preethas artwork will be on display at Apparao Galleries, Wallace Garden 3rd street, Nungambakkam, till July 28 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. Read: How a TN NGO is helping people with no documents get IDs, and get back on their feet Artwork by 5 Bengaluru youngsters with autism to be displayed at Paris fair

The News Minute 28 Jul 2022 3:11 pm

Chasing waterfalls: Karnatakas gushing twins are an exhilarating sight to behold

Travel A favourite haunt of film crews, the peaceful and pristine environs of Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls have formed the backdrop of many fight sequences and romantic interludes in various commercial movies. Susheela Nair Credit: Badarish NP It was a pleasant drive on the NH-209, cruising past the scenic Karnataka countryside, with its silvery fronds of sugarcane and emerald fields of paddy. Coconut grove and vast vistas of orange marigolds heralded a welcome. Enroute, we stopped in the nondescript hamlet of Halagur for breakfast, and tried out the steaming, rustic chiblu idli dished out at Babu Hotel on the Malavalli Main Road. What lends an extra depth of flavour to these unique idlis is that it is made in tiny little baskets woven from bamboo strands, and cooked over wood-stoked fire. It is then slathered with a huge dollop of homemade butter, and served with some palya and spicy chilli chutney. As we approached the small island-town of Shivanasamudram (Sea of Shiva), 65-km east of Mysuru, we could hear the deafening roar of the Cauvery river, as it hurtled down into a deep, rocky gorge to form two picturesque falls Barachukki and Gaganachukki. With the sylvan forested hills and lush green expanses that together form a startlingly calm backdrop for the Cauvery, the twin falls present an awesome sight. It is no wonder that these second largest waterfalls in Karnataka have been listed in the World Waterfalls Database website, which provides comprehensive information on waterfalls across the world. Listed among the 100 most beautiful waterfalls in the world, these segmented falls finds a mention in the Mysore Gazetteer, and also has been eulogised by Francis Buchannan, a geographer who waxed eloquent about its grandeur. The falls area is also called Shimsha by locals, but the British labelled it as Bluff. A favourite haunt of film crews, the peaceful and pristine environs of Shimsha formed the backdrop of many fight sequences, and romantic interludes in various commercial movies. Vistas of orange marigolds beside a coconut grove. Pic: Susheela Nair Lush green paddy fields in the Karnataka countryside. Pic: Susheela Nair The ethereal charm of forested hills and lush green valleys form a serene setting to the Cauvery, the life-line of Karnataka. At the top of the falls, the river divides around the island of Shivanasamudram, the Barachukki channel on the east and the Gaganachukki on the west. During the monsoon, the falls are at their impressive best, as water cascades with a deafening roar over a wide area in a series of leaps. More than the vertical drop, the two waterfalls are famed for their horizontal sprawl and plunge from a height of 300 ft. As the river was in full spate when we visited, it was an exhilarating experience to feel the water drops falling on our skin, as the falls came crashing down thunderously into a cloud of foaming spray. The roar of gushing water leaping down the rocky gorge, the twitter of birds and the rustling sound of the howling wind, together shattering the silence of the sylvan surroundings, have all inspired many a bard. Cruising past Asias first hydroelectric project, Sri Visvesvaraya Hydroelectric Plant, we headed downstream. It was established at the behest of Diwan Seshadri Iyer in 1902, with the intention of feeding power to the former Kolar Gold Fields. The plant is still functional. It is said that long back there was a cable trolley for visitors to see the working of the hydro station. What is remarkable is that one is able to see and enjoy the beauty of the waterfalls, as the power station is located downstream, away from the falls. A laudable case for mans coexistence with nature! Just a few kilometres past the hydroelectric power station, we stopped by the fall-side Dargah to pay our respects to the Sufi saint, Hazrat Syed Mardhani Gayeb. The saint who came here from Mecca was buried here in 1604. Barachukki is beyond the Dargah, a few kilometres away. The water falls from a height of 100 feet and forms a deep pool. Compared to Gaganachukki, Barachukki wears a more serene look, probably because there are no boulders hindering its course downward. Dargah Hazrat Mardhani Gayeb. Pic: Susheela Nair A view of the Barachukki waterfall, one of the twinfalls in Shivanasamudram. Pic: Susheela Nair When you have had enough of the falls, stop by the temples of Madhyaranga and Someshwara, and two churches as well. Madhyaranganathaswamy temple, an ancient Dravidian temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, is a pilgrimage centre. The Ranganathaswamy (Vishnu) idol is in a reclining pose on Adishesha or the seven-headed serpent. There are two more Ranganatha temples on the banks of river Cauvery, which are Adi Ranga at Srirangapatna and Anthya Ranga at Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. Someshwara Temple in Shivanasamudram. Pic: Susheela Nair An ancient church in the Shimsha area. Pic: Susheela Nair The Ranganathaswamy Temple dates back to the Chola period, even though modifications were later made by rulers like the Hoysalas. Many interesting legends are associated with this temple. The main deity, Ranganathaswamy, is believed to be carved in fossil stone (saligrama shila). Goddess Lakshmi is depicted as Cauvery, the personification of the namesake river, and sits near the feet of reclining Vishnu. The serpent has a seven-headed hood, unlike the five-headed one at Srirangapatna or Srirangam. Even after we left the place, we could hear in the distance the deafening roar of the water of the mighty Cauvery, as it plunged into a gorge. Madhya Ranga Ranganatha Temple. Pic: Susheela Nair Getting there Road: Mandya-60km, Mysore-65km, Bangalore-125km, Somnathpur-55 km, Talakad-55 km Route 1: Take the Bangalore NICE Road BidadiRamnagaramChannapatnaMaddurMalavalliShivasamudram via NH 275 Route 2: Try the BengaluruKanakapuraMalavalliPanditahalliShivanasamudram via NH 209 Rail: Maddur-40km When to go: Ideal for a day trip during the wet season and immediately after it. Where to eat: Though there are small eateries and shops selling biscuits, snacks and cool drinks, it is better to take a picnic hamper. Tips: Avoid public holidays and weekends. Look for the safety sign boards on display at strategic places, warning visitors of the dangers of swimming in the water. Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer, and photographer based in Bangalore. She has contributed content, articles and images on food, travel, lifestyle, photography, environment and ecotourism to several reputed national publications. Her writings constitute a wide spectrum, including guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

The News Minute 27 Jul 2022 2:03 pm

Fulfillment Of A Lifetime's Ambition For New Lanka President After Election

Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, was backed by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party of ousted leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was elected as Sri Lanka new President.

NDTV 20 Jul 2022 3:38 pm

A sojourn through Nilamburs teak jungles, rock shelters and kovilakam clusters

Travel Besides the worlds oldest teak plantation and the teak museum, Nilambur in Kerala is also known for its vast rainforests, sparkling waterfalls and extensive plantations of bamboo, rosewood, and mahogany. Susheela Nair When we think of the teak town of Nilambur in Keralas Malappuram district, the images conjured are of varying shades of green, Indias first teak museum, worlds oldest teak plantations, and the rock shelters of the erstwhile cavemen of Kerala. Nilambur delivered on this promise, greeting us with unending swathes of greenery as we approached the picture postcard town. This visit brought back pleasant memories of my arduous treks into these same dense jungles, more than 25 years ago. We were on a mission, in search of the Cholanaickens, a nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe who used to stay in caves or rock shelters, living on berries and root tubers. We hacked our way through thick thickets of cane, rattan, bamboo and other shrubs that frame the lonely forest path, leading us to many a vaulted passage. Traversing and trudging along hilly and wooded tracts, steep and slippery paths, crossing rivers and streams, braving torrential rains and leech bites, we reached their unexplored realm. During our rambles in the jungles, we camped in caves by the riverside, wrapped in a fires warmth to escape the pervading dampness, seeking protection against weather and wildlife. We had a trace of tribal hospitality, when treated to a glass of honey and boiled tuberous roots. While sipping the honey, we realised how dangerous the occupation of honey collection can be climbing up a fragile ladder with a basket fastened to the back, and smoking the bees out of their nests during nocturnal expeditions into the forest. We were amazed by their expert knowledge of their biological environment and instinctive awareness of the flora and fauna. Now, you can catch a glimpse of the tribal lifestyle at the tribal settlement in Manjeri and other places. Crossing the turbulent rivers of Nilambur, more than 25 years ago Tribal people rafting down to their rock shelter at Poochapara. Pic: Susheela Nair Dogs are inseparable companions of people of the Cholanaicken tribe in their food-gathering sojourns. Pic: Susheela Nair During our recent visit, we explored a few of the districts highlights and found that Nilambur has many claims to fame. Currently, Nilambur has become the favoured destination of politicians of all political parties, especially Rahul Gandhi and his ilk. They head to the Teak Town Resort in Nilambur for rest and relaxation, post hectic election campaigning in the neighbouring districts. Apart from the worlds oldest teak plantation and teak museum, Nilambur is also known for vast rainforests, sparkling waterfalls, clusters of kovilakams (grand mansions of the erstwhile rajas of Nilambur), and extensive plantations of bamboo, rosewood, and mahogany. One has to travel by the 60-km Shoranur-Nilambur railway during the monsoon to soak in the pristine beauty of the luxuriant foliage, verdant plains and overarching trees lining both sides of the track, as it chugs past stations with evocative names. Teak Museum in Nilambur. Pic: Susheela Nair The Nilambur-Shoranur rail line, with trees lining both sides of the track Even today, the versatile Nilambur wood is used to make dashboards by the quintessential British car manufacturer Rolls-Royce. The British used them to make railway sleepers when they built the East African rail network in Kenya. The teaks enduring beauty and strength is discernible in the ancient kovilakams, steeped in traditional mediaeval Kerala style architecture, flaunting their wood works. Malabar teak had also powered the huge British shipbuilding industry. Our Nilambur sojourn started with Conollys Plot, the oldest teak plantation in the world. It sprawls over an area of 2.31 hectares, beside the Chaliyar river at Aruvakode, from where we were ferried across the river. It was here, in 1846, that the then Collector of Malabar, HV Conolly, planted over two acres of land with teak trees. Conollys Plot houses a rare attraction, the oldest living teak tree, Kannimara, which stands at an imposing height of 49.2 metres. The biggest teak tree in Conolly's Plot. Pic: Praveen Elayi Our visit to the Teak Museum, a one-of-its-kind thematic museum devoted to the multi-faceted wood type, was an enlightening experience. As we entered the museum through a magnificently carved door, a number of eye-catching exhibits such as an intricately designed clock, a traditional granary and a model of an uru, an ancient sailing vessel, grabbed our attention. A model of Kannimara Teak, the oldest naturally growing tree located in Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary, a life-size replica of the trunk of the largest known teak growing in Malayattoor forest, and an extensive root system of a 55-year-old teak are some of the star attractions here. The Teak Museum was established by the Kerala Forest Research Institute in collaboration with the Kerala Forest Department. This unique museum has documented various aspects and features of teak its history, cultivation, management, utilisation and socio-economic background, all under one roof. Once you are done touring the museum, make sure to visit the Bioresource Park, says CTS Nair, Consultant, (Natural Resources Management) and former Chief Economist, Forestry Department, FAO. There are many places in and around Nilambur for nature and wildlife lovers. Renowned for its astounding variety of flora and fauna is the famous rainforest called Nedumkayam, situated about 18 km from Nilambur town. Nestled in the land of fresh perennial springs and lush green mountains, Adyanpara is famous for its waterfalls, and its wooded environs shelter an impressive variety of rich wildlife and a mind boggling variety of birds. Nedunkayam rainforest. Pic: Saji Kumar, Kerala Forest Department After our brief sightseeing sojourn, we reached the Great Hornbill Resort, a sylvan retreat where we recharged our weary bodies and frayed nerves. Adding to the verdant ambience are the running brooks and mossy nooks, gurgling with crystal springs that formed limpid pools. The back massage in the gushing stream was soothing to our tired and jaded nerves, making us feel rejuvenated. There is never a dreary moment here and we flitted from one activity to another. Birding, cycling, bonfire and trekking are all part of the wilderness escapade. Cycling in Amarambalam region As night fell, the forest came alive with the medley of bird calls and insects. It was indeed a wondrous sight to see the dazzling and mesmerising flights of thousands of fireflies, illuminating and coordinating their flashes across the protected stretch of forest at Amarambalam. We felt we were being transported to an Avatar movie-like bioluminescent world. You are lucky to witness this strange phenomenon. It happens only for a few days in a year in summer, said Arjun Prasannan, Marketing Director of the resort. It was indeed a fitting finale to our brief sojourn to the teak town. Susheela Nair is an independent food, travel and lifestyle writer, and photographer based in Bangalore. She has contributed content, articles and images on food, travel, lifestyle, photography, environment and ecotourism to several reputed national publications. Her writings constitute a wide spectrum, including guide books, brochures and coffee table books.

The News Minute 11 Jul 2022 8:07 pm

Im Called A Selfish Witch Even As My Husband And I Are Part Of A Study On Couples Childfree By Choice

Trigger Warning: This deals with shaming of women for being childfree and graphic descriptions of violence, as well as loss of loved ones and grief, and may be triggering for survivors. I have been called many things in life selfish, irresponsible, arrogant, inauspicious and a witch. I may or may not be any of [] The post Im Called A Selfish Witch Even As My Husband And I Are Part Of A Study On Couples Childfree By Choice appeared first on Women's Web: For Women Who Do .

Women's Web 11 Jul 2022 6:34 pm