Koothattukulam   Association, UAE


Political history

The present-day Koothattukulam Grama Panchayat had been preceded by the Koothattukulam Village Union, which was governed by the Muvattupuzha Tahsildar as the President and the District Agricultural Officer as the Vice President Records show that a special sitting of the Village Union was held in the Koothattukulam Rest house (circuit-house) on Thursday, 24-9-1121 (Malayalam Year), with the permission of the Government and elected late K. Kesavan Namboothiri as their first Honorary President.

Apart from settling local disputes and property matters, the Village Unions were also responsible for building and maintaining roads and bridges. During the Wars, they took up the additional burden of distributing essential food items and kerosene. Following upon the merger of Travancore and Cochin in 1949, the Triu-Kochi Panchayat Act came into effect in 1950, imparting a democratic character to village unions. In 1953, when the late Ittan Thomas was the President of the village union, Koothattukulam was declared as a Panchayat. The late Jacob Philip, who was a well-known freedom fighter, philosopher, communist leader and journalist, was the very first President of this newly formed Panchayat and he remained in office till 1963. For a period of 15 years from 1964, this position was held by Sri N. I. Abraham, a well-respected Congress leader,who was also a Professor in Nirmala College, Muvattupuzha. From 1979 to 1984 and from 1987 to 1990 the late M. Philip George was the President while the post was held by a Government nominee during the 3 years in between. On 27th Oct 1990 Koothattukulam Panchayat was declared a Municipality with Philip George as the Chairman of the Municipal Advisory Committee. However, as per Government order dated 31/3/1993, Koothattukulam was reverted back as a Panchayat. The advisory committee was dismissed and government rule imposed. Democratic rule has been re-established in 1995.

Socio-political settings

Koothattukulam plays a vital role in the social and political history of Kerala. The pro-prohibition movement of 1074 (Malayalam Year) which gathered strength under the leadership of T. K. Madhavan heralded Union activism in the area. Koothattukulam,which is rich in cash crops,easily became a cradle for revolutionary and progressive ideas as well.The fact that over 250 of the approximately 2000 freedom fighters of Kerala hailed from Koothattukulam is a matter of pride for everyone who belongs to this place. It is no small matter that a good percentage of the political prisoners who were released from Trivandrum central jail after the Independence in 1947 belonged to Koothattukulam. This itself is ample proof of the political maturity of these people. Prominent political leaders of Thiru-Kochin like C. Kesavan, T. M. Varghese, Pattom Thanupillai, Anne Mascrene, Kumbalath Shankupillai, Acamma Cheriyan and others have been very active in this region.

During the 'reign of terror' by Sir C.P, in violation of all government orders, a memorandum levelling serious criticisms against Sir C.P. and the government, was publicly read out by Chollumbel Pillai (C. J. Joseph) and T. K. Neelakantan at the V. M. School premises on January 16, 1939. Both were promptly arrested and jailed and Chollumbel Pillai who died in police custody became one of the first martyrs of the State Congress agitation.

The farmers agitation against Sir C.P.'s quota system during the war, changed the history of this land. The toddy tappers, fed up of being harassed by the Excise and the Toddy-shop contractors, in a meeting held in 1945 announced their joining hands with farmers and land owners. This led to the communist movement, which attracted to Koothattukulam the top leaders like P. Krishnapillai, A. K. G., E. M. S. Nampoothiripadu, Achutha Menon and others. On August 1, 1947,the students of St John 's High School, Vadakara, staged a protest march against the 'American model' rule of Sir C. P. In the police lathicharge that followed, about 35 students (both male and female) became victims of serious injuries, thus adding another chapter to the people's agitation in Koothattukulam.

In the wake of the Thiru-Kochi agitations against the oppression of the lower castes, Koothattukulam also saw a number of movements in support of the downtrodden. The leadership was taken up by K. Raman Elayathu who was a volunteer in the Vaikom Sathyagraham, when his eyes were smeared with burning quick lime by an angry mob of upper castes. A number of agitations followed under the leadership of stalwarts like I. M. Varkey, K. T. Jacob, Chollambel Pillai, K. V. John, David Rajan, P. J. Scaria, Joseph Sir, C. M. Kurian, C. I. Andrews, Mathew John and others. There have been so many people from this area who have been subjected to police atrocities and jailed that Koothattukulam is also known as 'martyrs' land'.

Cultural Identity

Koothattukulam can boast of a very rich and ancient cultural identity. Although the people of this place follow various beliefs and practices, there is a thread of unity and similarity in them. However, it is sad to note that under the changing socio-economic scenario, the traditional folk arts are fast disappearing, as they do not find any takers among the youth of the new generation.

Popular writer and thinker C. J. Thomas and his sister Mary John, an accomplished poetess in her own right, are the pride of this place. So is Mr. Jacob Philip, the famous artist and photographer. Rt. Rev. Abraham Vadakel, the erudite orator and literary critic and genius as also Prof. Ulahannan Mappillai, hail from Koothattukulam. During the social renaissance period, stalwarts like Kochu Narayanan Asan, the Indira-Susheela sisters; the Lila-Bindu sisters and others had excelled in the field of music and drama. Famous artists like C. M. Abraham, K. J. Abraham and N. S. Ittan also belong to Koothattukulam.

In the contemporary generation, the contributions of artists like Koothattukulam Chandran, T. C. Ulahannan, Jose Karimpana and M K Harikumar are notable. M. K. Harikumar is the recipient of several literary awards. The famous sculptor, Appukkuttan, also belongs to Koothattukulam.

No account of the cultural heritage of Koothattukulam can be complete without adding a chapter on 'C. J.' 'C. J.', who undoubtedly stands in the forefront of all independent thinkers of Kerala, was born in Koothattukulam as the son of Chollampel Yohannan Core Episcopa and Annamma on November 14, 1918. While at high school, he was selected to take up priesthood but one day he returned home from school, tore off his cassock and threw it away. He completed his B.A. from U. C. College in 1939 and for a while worked as a teacher in Vadakara High School. In 1943 he passed LLB from the Trivandrum Law College. During his Law studies he was actively involved with the Students' Federation and soon became a member of the Communist Party. In 1948 he published two books entitled 'Religion and Communism' and 'Socialism', the latter of which he dedicated to his mother who had taken bold steps to canvass votes for the Communist Party. In the course of time, however, he became disenchanted with the Communist Party and left them to join the opposition. Even there his non-conformist and rebellious mind was unable to get attuned to the realities of the prevailing political system. No one could bridle his courage and free thinking. He firmly believed and declared that non-conformist and radical thinking is the foundation for progress and social development. His life bears testimony to a tireless, inquisitive and research-oriented mind, radical in thought and action. In 1951 he married Rosie, the eldest daughter of M. P. Paul and they had 3 children. Late Rev Mary John Koothattukulam is C. J.'s sister. "Uyarunna Yavanika", "Vilayiruthal", "Evan Ente Priya Puthran", " Avan Veendum Varunnu" and "Aa Maukhshyan Nee Thanne" are some of C.J.'s main literary works. He breathed his last at the age of 42 on July 14, 1960 at the Christian Medical College, Vellore.

C. J Memorial Elocution Club

The C.J Memorial Elocution Club has been functioning in Koothattukulam since 1961. It is no exaggeration to mention that almost all important literary topics have found a place in the annual speeches delivered in connection with the C.J. Memorial celebrations. Cultural programmes like drama, kathakali, koothu etc., also form part of the annual celebrations. 'Kaviarangu' sessions involving famous literary personalities are held almost every year. A number of literary stalwarts have graced these concerts. The club has already published a number of books. One such book entitled "Natakam Oru Patanam" (Drama - A Study) was prescribed as a text-book for the B.A. / B.Sc. degree courses of the University of Kerala. Another book entitled "Jawaharlal Nehru" was prescribed as a text book by both Kerala and Madurai Universities. In 1979, the Club started an endowment in the name of Rev. Dr. Abraham Vadakkel. Earlier, in 1968, it had conducted a 10-day study class on drama and acting under the guidance of famous personalities like C.N. Sreekantan Nair, G. Sankara Pillai, N. Krishna Pillai, Ayyappa Panicker, Venukkuttan Nair, Dr. Ramanujam, Madhu and Savithrikkutty. Among the select group of 35 students were Bharath Gopi and Babu Namboothiri who went on to become well-known and eminent artists. Although the Club is over 35 years old, even now, this institution does not have an auditorium of its own. Efforts are on to establish a suitable auditorium.

The 'Keli Fine Arts Society'

The 'Keli Fine Arts Society' (ER 77/90), established in 1990 was affiliated to the Kerala Sangeetha Academy in the year 1993. Besides running a School(the 'Keli School of Fine Arts') for popularising and imparting training in fine arts, this Society conducts cultural programmes every month on a regular basis. The School trains about 150 students in vocal music, dance, violin, mrudangam and thabala. On the anniversary day of the School, children's competitions in various fields of fine arts are held and 'Arangettam" ceremonies are also held on this occasion. It also arranges seminars, exhibitions and "Navarathri" celebrations on a regular basis. Music concerts, Kathakali, Oottanthullal etc. form part of the Navarathri celebrations. Since 1994, the school has instituted a special prize for the top scorers at the State-level SSLC examination. In 1991, a "Stree nataka camp" organised by the School with the help of the Women's Study Centre, Kudamaloor, saw the active participation of about 70 eminent ladies from various parts of Kerala. 'Keli' too does not have a premises of its own and this does to some extent inhibit its scope of activities. 'Puthuma Arts', a privately managed Society, which was formed in 1990 conducts competitions in professional drama, music concerts etc. 'Karthika Kala Kendram' and 'Shankholi Theatres' are two other professional institutions based in Koothattukulam.

Koothattukulam Young Men's Association (KYMA)

Koothattukulam Young Men's Association (KYMA), which started functioning in 1974, is a famous football club of Ernakulam district.Over the years, it expanded its activities to include cultural and social service activities. The Association set up a gymnasium in addition to a school for instrumental music for talented youngsters. The pageantry organised by KYMA during the Onam festive season is very famous. Although this Club did start off well, it is no longer as active as in the past.

Apart from the above, there are a number of voluntary organisations functioning in and around Koothattukulam, with the sole purpose of promoting arts & sports and cultural activities.The main problem faced by most of them is the lack of funds and the absence of proper premises.
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