Shaolin meets ‘Kalaripayattu’ from ‘God’s Own Country’

Thiruvananthapuram, June 26 (IANS) Shaolin Kung Fu has found a welcome partner in ‘Kalaripayattu’, the classical martial arts from Kerala.

Six performers of ‘Kalaripayattu’ joined hands with Shaolin exponents at a rare fusion of the two traditional art forms in the Chinese capital on Friday, said a statement here.

The occasion was a ‘Kerala Evening’ organised at the Indian embassy in Beijing by Kerala Tourism, which is making a foray into China, a vast market with 107 million Chinese tourists travelling worldwide, according to figures available for 2014.

A shared cultural heritage was the theme as Shaolin exponents effortlessly mingled with Kalaripayattu performers in a scintillating display of martial arts.

Two Kathakali artists from Kerala then went on to enthral an audience consisting of the Who’s Who of the Chinese travel and tourism industry.

“The breathtaking fusion of ‘Kalaripayattu’ and Shaolin showed that Kerala and China have a lot in common,” said Kerala Tourism Minister A.P. Anilkumar, who is leading a state delegation to China.

“Like Kerala, China has a rich tradition of classical art forms such as the famous Dragon dance, making it easy for us to understand the country and its culture and also for the people of China to understand our culture,” said Anilkumar.

“Relations between the people of China and Kerala go back centuries when traders from China and Kerala traded commodities like spices and silk,” the minister said, adding that China and Kerala shared several cultural traditions like martial arts, ancient medicinal systems and even kitchen utensils.

“Kerala is a tiny state of India, but it is blessed with a rich geographical and cultural diversity,” said Kerala Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson, who is part of the state delegation.

“With an easy connectivity and ideal proximity, Kerala is a natural destination for visitors from China,” he added.

“The first thing that tourists from around the world see on our famous backwaters in Kerala is the Chinese fishing net along its coast. The most important thing in a kitchen in Kerala is the Chinese frying pan,” added Thomson referring to the cultural similarities between China and Kerala.

Chinese journalists, corporate executives, airline industry officials and tour operators were part of the select audience at the ‘Kerala Evening’.

Indian ambassador to China, Ashok K. Kantha, was also present on the occasion.

A similar show will also be organised on Saturday at the venue of the Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) 2015, which began on Friday.

‘Kalaripayattu’ and backwaters is the theme of the Kerala Tourism pavilion at BITE 2015. It is for the first time that Kerala Tourism is participating in the three-day BITE, the premier travel and tourism fair in Asia.

Kerala Tourism and its industry partners from the state will also participate in a road show in Shanghai on June 30. It will be the first road show ever by Kerala Tourism in China.

The visit by the Kerala Tourism delegation comes close on the heels of the three-day state visit to China by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, during which he announced Visa on arrival for tourists from China.

Kerala’s renowned ancient medicinal system of Ayurveda is expected to be a huge attraction for Chinese visitors along with a variety of tourism destinations and products spanning a whole spectrum of cultural and social milieu.

China and Kerala are also known for the ancient trade routes, the Spice Route and the Silk Route, linking both with the rest of the world.

“Kerala offers everything a modern day Chinese traveller aspires for,” said Kerala Tourism secretary G. Kamala Vardhana Rao.

China is a key market for Kerala Tourism as the Asian neighbour is credited with the highest number of outbound tourists in the world. Most of the tourists from China prefer Asian holiday destinations.

There has been an increase of 33.44 per cent in Chinese tourist inflow to Kerala in 2014 compared to the previous year.


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