What better way to understand the responsible tourism of Kerala than exploring the village life experience at Kumarakom, Kerala. Kumarakom is a part of Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala and it is a two-hour journey from the Cochin International Airport. Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands in Kottayam district, which is spread on the Vembanad Lake, known for its freshwater fish species like Karimeen (pearl spot), Chemmeen (shrimp) and prawns.
There are two packages for responsible tourism tour at Kumarakom. The first package is “The Day with Farmers” and the other is “Beyond the Backwaters”.
As we arrive at the Responsible Tourism Head Office at Kumarakom, the guide briefs us on the activities that we are going to see during the tour. To begin “The Day with Farmers”, we walk in a file to the Latha house to watch the process of coir making.
As soon as we arrive at Latha House, Latha family welcomes us with jasmine garlands.
Coir making is a primary occupation for the villagers at the backwaters. Coir is one of Kerala’s most important products.Coir is made of coconut fibre extracted from the coconut husks which contain 20% to 30% fibre of varying length. The coconut fibre is known as one of the world’s strongest threads.
The process of making coir begins with a weaving spinner. The workers who are mostly females, fill the threshed into the basket and take them near the spinning sheds. Then, a spinner will stand at the wheel which is attached a gear with a small spinning axel.
A handful of fibre is attached to each of the two gear ends.
When the spinner starts to spin, the women walk backward swiftly pulling fibres from their baskets to attach to the spinning and lengthening yarn. After walking backwards for about 30 feet, the women begin to lace together the two strands as she walks forward to the spinner.
Fellow blogger, Haryandi of Omnndut tries his hands on the coir making.
Britney from Stay Curious Darling is sharing some moments with Latha’s daughter.
After the demonstration on coir making, we ride the country boat to Manjira Village for the next demonstrations. The waters are filled with water hyacinths.
Having noticed our boats full of photographers, a local boy shows off his backflip skills.
Ajeesh shows us the laborious traditional way using a thalappu and the modern way using the latest instruments. The latest instrument is actually a climbing machine invented by the state’s Agricultural University, which makes it easier to pluck the coconut fruits.
Gowri, 80 years old woman, demonstrates the traditional art of weaving dried palm fronds into beautiful mats.
Toddy is an alcoholic beverage made from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the coconut palms.
The toddy is only tapped from a healthy coconut fruit buds. The buds are cut leaving 95% remaining on the tree. Then the whole bud is then beaten and pound with a hammer until the buds get swollen. Each new bud usually last for maximum 2 months.
The cut bud is bound with tender coconut leaf to avoid bacterial infection away and make the bud ooze sap. After beating the new flower bud for a week the flower begins to ooze sap which can be collected twice daily.
At the end of the demonstration, everyone is offered a glass of toddy.
Suresh demonstrates the casting of fishing nets.