The demonstration was given by members of the Sree Bharath Kalari academy in Kannur, Kerala
Photo: Jess Bauldry
Photo: Jess Bauldry
A magnificent martial arts display in Luxembourg City to mark India's 70th anniversary of independence
Visitors to the capital received an energetic demonstration of an ancient Indian martial art on Wednesday as part of India’s seventieth anniversary of independence celebrations.
The usual clink of glasses on place d’Armes at lunchtime was replaced by the clang of metal on metal, bare feet slapping on paving slabs and wooden staffs knocking together during the introduction to Kalaripayattu.
“India has one of the oldest histories in the world, if you analyse it. It has  states each with their own traditional cultures that should not be forgotten,” Honorary Indian Consul to Luxembourg Ambi Venkataraman told Delano, adding: “We don’t want our history to fade away. We want it to be alive.”
The demonstration was given by members of the Sree Bharath Kalari academy in Kannur, Kerala, on the invitation of the Indian Embassy to Luxembourg and Belgium and the Indian Association of Luxembourg.
The origins of Kalaripeyattu are widely disputed but among the most popular legends is that something like it was introduced to Kerala as a technique by Aryan settlers. Over the intervening centuries, it evolved into a martial art taught to children in Kerala from the age of 7 onwards. Today, Kalaripeyattu can be broken down into four elements: calisthenics (maippayattu), defence and attack with wooden weapons (kolthaari), defence and attack with sharp weapons (angathaari) and bare-handed techniques of self-defence and attack (verumkai).
Over 30 minutes, a group of around eight people demonstrated each element with impressive dexterity and speed.
The aim of the demonstration was to show a lesser-known element from Indian culture to people in Luxembourg and remind Indians living in the grand duchy of their roots.
It was one of a number of events organised by the Indian embassy to mark the seventieth anniversary of India’s Independence on 15 August.
UPDATE: A previous version of this article mis-stated the number of states in India. It is 29, a representative of the Indian embassy in Brussels told Delano on 21 August.