Centenarian Kathakali artiste, singer Yesudas among Padma awardees from Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 25 (IANS) The Keralites winning the Padma awards for 2017 include a legendary singer, an Indian hockey captain, a centenarian Kathakali artiste, two women from varying areas and a hugely popular poet.

While singer K.J. Yesudas was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the rest got Padma Shri.

The pick of this year’s awards is, however, going to be the 102-year-old Chemanchari K. Nair, who was awarded Padma Shri for his strides in Kathakali.

Nair began his long journey in this popular art form at the age of 15 and went on to set up several dance schools. In 1983, he established Cheliya Kathakali Vidyalayam at Cheliya, about 35 km from Kozhikode, which runs courses in different aspects of Kathakali and has a Kathakali troupe, too.

His home near Kozhikode right since the morning was abuzz with activity as the word about his name features in the list had spread.

“Yes, I am certainly delighted with this and am very happy,” said the veteran to the media while his picture was being flashed on TV.

His cousin said: “Finally he has made it… Every time for the past few years during this time, his name would do the rounds for a Padma award, but it finally came today (Wednesday) and we are all really excited.”

Yesudas is among one of the seven decorated with the Padma Vibhushan.

“I wish to continue as a student of music until I breathe my last,” reacted the singer while speaking to the media in Chennai.

The two women in the list come from a varying areas as diverse as music to “Kalari” (Kerala’s traditional martial art form).

Parassala Ponnammal, 90, is an accomplished music teacher, who began to study music at the age of seven.

She later became the first lady student at the Swati Thirunal School of Music in the capital city and went on to become the first lady principal and retired after 38 years’ service as a music teacher from the state-run music college.

“Many students called me hearing the news… Since they are happy, I am also happy,” said the music teacher.

Seventy-three-year-old Meenakshi Amma, who hails from Vadakara in Kozhikode district, is another unique personality, as she is an expert trainer in Kalari and runs her own school of martial arts that trains around 150 students every year.

“I started to learn Kalari from the age of seven and I continue to pursue this profession as I enjoy it. We all are happy about this award,” said the mother of four sons.

Ninety-year-old Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri is a hugely popular Malayalam poet said that he never ever thought that this award would come his way.

“Since I never thought this would happen, I find it difficult to believe that I have actually won it. I’m definitely elated,” said the poet.

Hockey captain Sreekesh said that he dedicates this award to the people of India, who have been with him all through.

–IANS

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