Saying ’bye to ashan Kalaris
Alappuzha Educational Institutions claiming to be endowed with the most modern techniques of education are mushrooming all over the State. The bid is to snare in the maximum number of students, with parents willing to shell out more money, it really is a booming business.
Years back, the present role of primary educational institutions was played by the Kudipallikoodams. Here the “ ashan” (teacher) would initiate tiny tots into the world of letters.
The educational revolution taking place in the State has however, not made much of an impression on many people. Take for example the people of Muhamma. They still cling on to their old tradition of education. The number of students in the ashan Kalari of Rajappan Ashan in Muhamma itself proves that the people still have faith in the old style of education. There are 34 children here between the age group of four and five. Their primary education is held in the ashan’s shed now, Slate, Pencil and books are rarely used here. The students are made to write on the mud beds spread across the table in front of the ashan.
There are no benched or desks. The children sit on the bare floor of the small room in close contact with Mother Earth.
The ashan calls the kids and asks them to write on the mud spread in front of him. Each student gets the personal attention of the ashan. Call this another form of DPEP education. The kids are made to sing, dance and narrate stories in which the characters happen to be kings and animals. The talents of the children are also developed here. A good part of the day is set aside for cultural activities. The parents feel that education in Kudipallikoodams is similar to that of DPEP. Elders of the place recall with fondness and pride that a majority of the people in Muhamma, who now hold high posts in various private and Government departments, were trained in ashan Kalaris. They thus refluse to let go of this tradition. But they are beset with the fear that once the last of the ashans die, there will be no more Kalaris. With no youngster willing to follow in the footsteps of the ashan, this traditional form of learning will fade away. But then, who cares for ashan Kalaris these days?