Deshavicharam commemorates the illustrious and the unsung people of Edappally

Edappally is changing and how. What was once a quiet, historically important place is now facing the fall out of rapid urbanisation, breakdown of joint families, growth and development. This has resulted in disappearance of native residents giving way to a new population. It has also resulted in the loss of local history.

And knowing local history is important as it documents the lives of people in a neighbourhood. In a sense, local history is the biography of the common man, a reminder that history has a lot to do with what goes on in one’s own backyard.

Relevant record

It is in this context that Deshavicharam (Thoughts of a Land), a commemorative book brought out by the Edappally Service Co-operative Bank, as part of its 90th year celebrations, becomes relevant. Edited by journalist Ravi Kuttikad, this is an invaluable record of the history, myth, people, events of Edappally and Elamakkara.

“The Edappally Service Cooperative Bank itself is rich in history. This establishment began functioning at least eight years before such a cooperative movement took wing in the State. Initially, it was started by a group of friends who called it Changathi (friends) kuries. That’s why we designed into a history handbook. We have attempted to collate the history of Edappally and its people,” says Ravi Kuttikad.

In 135 pages, the book collates the history of the place from 12 century AD onwards with illustrations and lovely photographs. Read about Elamakkara where many battles were fought, how the place got its name, the police atrocities here in 1824, how Edappally and Elamakkara was affected by the flood of 1924 (Malayalam year 1099) and many such historical details.

Perhaps the most interesting of the many short, crisp articles are those on the people of the two places. Along with Changampuzha, the most famous of them all, there are people that have not found their rightful place in history and even in the minds of people.

“Historians, P. Sankunni Menon and K. P. Padmanabha Menon, whose monumental works are still studied and discussed today, stayed in Edappally. Sadly, no monument to perpetuate their memory have come up here not even a road.” There are other interesting characters one comes across like journalist-translator-litterateur K. K. Menon, tailor Thomas, the midwife Kochukunji and some landmark shops like the tea shop or the one that sells ‘pappadams’ at Devankulangara.

“It was at Edappally that the first literary festival took place in the State. Way back in 1927 at the BTS school ground litterateurs from all over the State got together for the three-day event. And it was here that they unanimously called for the setting up of the Samastha Kerala Sahitya Parishad. That’s why, I think, the people of Edappally, traditionally, have this literary streak in them. And again it was here that Hyder Ali, the noted Kathakali singer, was first given permission to sing in the Hindu temples.”

The temples, the Edappally church, Changampuzha Park, the Edappally police station and other important landmarks find mention. Today Edappally has become synonymous for its shopping malls, a veiled warning of the future and why local history needs to be recorded from time to time.

Deshavicharam is priced at Rs. 50 and is available at the Edappally Service Cooperative Bank.