The Himachali song ‘Nikke nikke naalu’ references tall mountains, waterfalls, food, and other charms of the northern State. Amritha R., a Plus Two student of Karthika Thirunal Government Vocational and Higher Secondary School for Girls, Manacaud, sang of those attractions during a seven-day trip to Himachal recently.
The trip was organised for 25 school students by the Samagra Shiksha, Kerala as part of the ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ cultural exchange programme to facilitate deeper understanding of diverse cultures of various States. Kerala and Himachal Padesh are partners in the twinning initiative.
The students visited various cultural, educational and historical places in Shimla and toured nearby destinations such as Kufri and Naldehra. They also experienced the food, song and dance, and the way of life in Himachal, not to mention the beautiful landscape.
The memories are vivid—the tall peaks, the rain, the first taste of the Bilaspuri Dham, the Kinnauri Nati dance, and their interactions with other students.
Amritha says she learnt six Himachali songs, and got an opportunity to sing those during the trip. One of those came up during a visit to Government Senior Secondary School (Girls), Portmore, Shimla. “After hearing me sing, the students felt I was from Himachal. No one could make out I was a Malayali,” says Amritha.
Kaniha Gautam, a Class 12 student of the Portmore school whom Amritha had met online during last year’s online interaction programme, sang a Malayalam song for the visitors.
Asked about the takeaway from the interactions with the students, Amritha says they seemed more innocent. She felt emphasis was being given to Hindi at the expense of Himachali there, like English was instead of Malayalam here. The condition of women was not very different, though the girl students she met had clear ambitions, she says.
The visitors taught the Himachali students some Malayalam, and picked up a smattering of Hindi.
The group from Kerala comprised 19 students from State schools and three each from Kendriya Vidyalaya and Navodaya Vidyalaya, besides select teachers. Four differently abled students too were part of the team.
“The people in Himachal were great hosts,” says Amritha. “ Kandathil Santhosham was how the school students said goodbye to us.”
The interaction between the students has not ended though. Kaniha and other Portmore students had called them up on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, says Amritha.