KOCHI: Though cow is worshiped as god in many parts of the country, for the percussion artists in God’s own country, the skin of the slaughtered cattle is a means of livelihood as chenda and other percussion instruments are made of the tanned skin of cattle. While the cultural sphere of the state reverberates with rhythmic ensembles, the traditional craftsmen who toil round the year to make the instruments ready for performance before every festival season, remain a neglected lot. Further, it is a double whammy for them with the general patronage for making percussion instruments on the wane and the Centre imposing new restrictions on cattle trade.
K Manikandan, secretary of the Kerala State Thukal Vadyopakarana Nirmana Sanghom, says though percussion artists are revered everywhere, the traditional craftsmen who meticulously craft the instruments are on the verge of extinction as there is no support for them from the part of the government. Even the call of the craftsmen to grant pension for ailing artists in the sector has fallen on deaf ears.
The plight of the sector can be seen from the fact that the sanghom has only 70 members on its muster roll in Kerala, the majority of whom are from Peruvembu village situated on the outskirts of Palakkad. Significantly, the children of these artists are not ready to follow in the footsteps of their parents as the craft and sale attract no major earnings and recognition for them, he says.
Sanalkumar of Velappaya in Thrissur says there has been a scarcity of slaughtered cattle skin in the state after the Centre brought in some restrictions on the sale and slaughter of cattle. Now the sector is slowly limping back to normalcy. However, there is still paucity of good quality cattle skin in the wake of the drop in the arrival of cattle from other states. The skin of the cattle of Kerala do normally have more fat content than that of…