''Taleem', a Muslim martial art practised by Hindus in Kerala

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Kasaragod (Kerala), July 30 : An intricate form of martial art and gymnastics called 'Taleem', which was a part of the Muslim culture in Kerala centuries ago, is now practised by the Hindu community. 'Taleem' is referred to as Thulundan Kalari and many Hindus had mastered it, performing in rhythm with vibrant ancient folk songs.

Thanks to the initiative of the Hindu community, 'Taleem' earned a spot during the temple festivals keeping it alive, but that is no longer now. Propagators of this art form say that the modern youth are shunning it.

"Earlier, we used to perform in large groups and had to take huge lorries to carry them from one place of show to the other. Now, no one comes for it and it is not attracting people. Even the temple committees do not give so much importance to popularise the art as they have many other dance forms to choose like 'peacock dance' or 'puli koot' (tiger dance). They seldom consider our programmes," said Kamalakshan, a veteran artiste.

What makes 'Taleem' interesting is the use of fireworks on sticks, balancing tactics, daggers and a host of indigenous weapons.

Neglect of the art form is affecting the earnings of the 'Taleem' experts.

Amidst all these negative trends, a worthwhile effort by a couple of committed Hindu maestros and devoted institutions is keeping this art still afloat.

One such institution is Sri Rama Anjaneya Vyayamshala, where the art form of 'Taleem' is taught as well as practised.

One of the residents of Kasaragod, incidentally a Muslim, attributed the 'Taleem' art going into oblivion due to lack of public support.

"During the month of Ramadan and other Muslim festivals, the art was performed in front of Muslim houses, courtyards and public places. The most attractive part used to be the fireworks tricks done on sticks. But now a days, no one is coming forward to practice it, may be they do not find it much lucrative. I think the art of 'Taleem' should be carried by youths with the help of both public and private enterprises who must come forward to save it," said Bakar Mukh, a resident.

Exponents of 'Taleem' only wish that this ancient art form should be preserved and want the government to be proactive in this regard. By Juhan Samuel

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