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ARPO Celebrates Two Years of Cultural Preservation Achievements

31 Dec 2023

Founded in November 2021, ARPO capped off a successful two years with international recognition for its efforts in promoting and preserving Kerala's cultural heritage.

ARPO's unwavering dedication to cultural preservation has yielded a remarkable two years, culminating in a prestigious UNESCO Award. This recognition underscores a wide range of initiatives that document and celebrate Kerala's rich heritage.

UNESCO Award Recognizes Temple Restoration

ARPO's work on the restoration of the centuries-old Kunnamangalam Bhagavathi Temple in Kozhikode received the highest honor: an Award of Distinction and a Special Mention for Sustainable Development in the 2023 UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

Kunnamangalam Karnikara Mandapam receives UNESCO Asia Pacific Award 2023

Earthlore Initiative Focuses on Tribal Music and Culture

ARPO launched "Earthlore," a flagship initiative dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich traditions of Kerala's tribal communities. This program included:

  • Archiving folklore songs in audio and video formats.

  • Documenting language, music, and instrument-making practices of the Irulas of Attapadi and the Kattunayakars of Wayanad and Kothas from Nilgiri Hills.

  • Organizing a tribal music concert featuring these communities in Kochi.


ARPO's Efforts Lead to Increased Visibility for Tribal Artists

ARPO's work extended beyond documentation. Their efforts influenced major institutions like Experion Technologies and the Kendra Sangeet Natak Academy to invite Irular tribal percussionists to perform at the Jyotirgamaya festival in New Delhi. Additionally, ARPO facilitated a workshop at the Kochi Muziris Biennale, fostering interaction between tribal musicians and the public.

Preserving Oral History and Folk Arts

ARPO actively documented Kerala's vanishing cultural heritage through various initiatives:

  • Supported the creation of the "History Zone Podcast" exploring Calicut's history (available on Spotify).

  • ARPO organized a performance of the nearly-extinct "Balikkala" ritual art form, further documenting disappearing cultural practices. Watch the documentry below.


Lorekeepers Project Documents Vanishing Traditions

Partnering with the Faizal and Shabana Foundation ARPO's Lorekeepers Project achieved significant success in crowdsourcing and archiving over 1,000 vanishing songs and stories, ensuring these traditions are preserved for future generations. 

Music Video Highlights Irular Community

ARPO collaborated with the Irular community and professional musicians to create a music video showcasing their culture. This project not only documents but also celebrates their unique heritage.

Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademy Grant for Digitization Project

ARPO received a grant from Kendra Sangeet Natak Akademy for digitizing the culture and music of three tribal communities in the Western Ghats region. This project will further enrich the organization's extensive archive.

JB Ramesh and his team, representing the Jenu Kuruba tribe, performing for the Earthlore project, documented for the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Looking Ahead: Continued Commitment to Cultural Preservation

"This UNESCO award is a tremendous honor and a testament to the tireless efforts of our team," said Parvathi Asok, Director of Projects and Outreach at ARPO. "We are incredibly proud of our work in just two years, and this recognition motivates us even further. We look forward to continuing to document, celebrate, and preserve Kerala's rich cultural heritage for generations to come."

Meenakshi Amma and friends sharing folk songs during a documentry shoot, in 2022.

Folklore artist Majeesh V.P. presented mementos to teachers in recognition of their contributions to collecting local lore

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