“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going.” – Terry Pratchett
Books on history haven’t thrived in my bookshelf, or in my reading for that matter. The genre hasn’t been one I have loved. This book was an exception for two reasons. Firstly, it was written by a friend, and secondly, it was about the land I am from.
As evident from the title, the book explores the history of Kerala, a state in the southern part of India. But the events that are explored aren’t the prominent ones. They are the lesser known, yet quite important parts of the history of Kerala. Though I do know part of the history, the sixteen events covered in the book were ones I had no idea about.
Kerala had been a land of some strange customs that the people followed willingly. Some, like Manna Pedi and Pula Pedi, were told to me once in a casual discussion. Perhaps the nature of that talk made me think that these were just folk tales, myths and not more than that. So it was interesting to know more about that. The book also talks about some authors I’ve heard of from my grandparents, and how they played a part in the history of the state. I was also surprised to learn that “Harishree Ganapataye Nama” was not what was written when children make their move into the world of letters. The actual verse that is written was quite nice too. But perhaps what I loved reading about the most in this book is the part on the Arts of Kerala. It was the first time I heard of Padayani or Aivarnaatakam.
The authors mention that they hope the book kindles the passion and interest for understanding more about the beautiful land of Kerala. I feel that the book does accomplish that. The chapters aren’t that long, and they are put across in a very simple and direct manner. I liked that because history is a genre that doesn’t always engage the reader when the content is long and very detailed. I feel the book could use a better cover art. The cover, which gives the first impression for a reader, doesn’t reflect the title very well.
This is a book I would re-read. These events are just a small part of the vast history of Kerala, so I hope the authors do bring out a sequel to the book soon, to continue the good work done in this book.
|Title: Gems of Kerala History|
Sreedeep Chennamangalam & Surya Das
|ISBN/ASIN: 9789385524646||Publisher: Power Publications|
(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
4th March 2017)