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India States - Kerala

Scenic Kerala Backwaters. Kerala ( Gods Own Country ) is a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of southwestern India. To its east and northeast, Kerala borders Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; to its west and south lie the Indian Ocean islands of Lakshadweep and the Maldives, respectively. Kerala envelops Mahι, a coastal exclave of Pondicherry. Kerala is one of four states that comprise the linguistic-cultural region known as South India. First settled in the 10th century BCE by speakers of proto-Tamil, Kerala was influenced by the Mauryan Empire. Later, the Cheran kingdom and feudal Namboothiri Brahminical city-states became major powers in the region. Early contact with overseas lands culminated in struggles between colonial and native powers. Finally, the States Reorganisation Act of November 1, 1956 elevated Kerala to statehood. Social reforms enacted in the late 19th century by Cochin and Travancore were expanded upon by post-Independence governments, making Kerala among the Third World's longest-lived, healthiest, most gender-equitable, and most literate regions. However, Kerala's rates of suicide, unemployment, and violent crime rank among India's highest. The etymology of the name "Kerala" is disputed. The prevailing theory states that it is an imperfect portmanteau that fuses kera ("coconut palm tree") and alam ("land" or "location"). Natives of Kerala — "Keralites" — thus refer to their land as Keralam. Another theory has the name originating from the phrase Chera alam ("Land of the Chera").

Kerala Wildlife. Like other Indian states and Commonwealth countries, Kerala is governed through a parliamentary system of representative democracy; universal suffrage is granted to residents. There are three branches of government. The legislature — the Legislative Assembly — is composed of elected members and special office bearers (the Speaker and Deputy Speaker) elected by assemblymen. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker (or the Deputy Speaker if the Speaker is absent). The judiciary is composed of the Kerala High Court (including a Chief Justice combined with 26 permanent and two additional (pro tempore) justices) and a system of lower courts. The executive authority — composed of the Governor of Kerala (the de jure head of state and appointed by the President of India), the Chief Minister of Kerala (the de facto head of state; the Legislative Assembly's majority party leader is appointed to this position by the Governor), and the Council of Ministers (appointed by the Governor, with input from the Chief Minister). The Council of Ministers answers to the Legislative Assembly. Auxiliary authorities — panchayats, for which local body elections are regularly held — govern local affairs. Kerala hosts two major political alliances: the United Democratic Front (UDF — led by the Indian National Congress) and the Left Democratic Front (LDF — led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist)). At present, the UDF is the ruling party and Oommen Chandy is the current Chief Minister. Nevertheless, Kerala numbers among India’s most left-wing states. Keralites, compared with most other Indians, are keen participants in the political process.

Kerala Cocunut Tree. Kerala's culture is mainly Dravidian in origin, deriving from a greater Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated on through centuries of contact with overseas cultures.[79] Native performing arts include koodiyattom, kathakali – from katha ("story") and kali ("performance") – and its offshoot Kerala natanam, koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), thullal, padayani, and theyyam. Other arts are more religion- and tribal-themed. These include oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these artforms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody. Additionally, a substantial Malayalam film industry effectively competes against both Bollywood and Hollywood.Malayalam literature is ancient in origin, and includes such figures as the 14th-century Niranam poets (Madhava Panikkar, Sankara Panikkar and Rama Panikkar), whose works mark the dawn of both modern Malayalam language and indigenous Keralite poetry. The "triumvirate of poets" (Kavithrayam: Kumaran Asan, Vallathol Narayana Menon, and Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer) are recognised for moving Keralite poetry away from archaic sophistry and metaphysics, and towards a more lyrical mode. In the second half of the 19th century, Jnanpith awardees like G Sankara Kurup, S. K. Pottakkat, and M. T. Vasudevan Nair have added to Malayalam literature. Later, such contemporary Keralite Indian English writers as Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy — whose 1996 semi-autobiographical bestseller The God of Small Things is set in the Kottayam town of Ayemenem — have garnered international recognition.

Kerala Waterfalls.Kerala's music also has ancient roots. Carnatic music dominates Keralite traditional music; this was the result of Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma's popularisation of the genre in the 19th century.[80][81] Raga-based renditions known as sopanam accompany kathakali performances. Melam (including the paandi and panchari variants) is a more percussive style of music; it is performed at mandir-centered festivals using the chenda. Melam ensembles comprise up to 150 musicians, and performances may last up to four hours. Panchavadyam is a different form of percussion ensemble, in which up to 100 artists use five types of percussion instrument. Kerala has various styles of folk and tribal music. The popular music of Kerala — as in the rest of India — is dominated by the filmi music of Indian cinema. Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin; these include kalaripayattu (kalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice")). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali. However, Keralites are increasingly turning to more modern activities like cricket, kabaddi, soccer, and badminton. Dozens of large stadiums — including Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Thiruvananthapuram's Chandrashekaran Nair Stadium — attest to the mass appeal of such sports among Keralites. Television (especially "mega serials" and cartoons) and the Internet have impacted Keralite culture.[82] Yet Keralites maintain high rates of newspaper subscription — 50%[83] — spend an average of about seven hours a week reading novels and other books,[82] host a sizeable "people's science" movement, and participate in such activities as writers' cooperatives.[69]

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