HeritageINDIA student Nirali Patel learns about Coconuts and their use in Kerala

HeritageINDIA student Nirali Patel learns about Coconuts and their use in Kerala

August 5, 2019 | Author: Nirali Patel, HeritageINDIA 2019 Cohort

Coconut Adventures by Nirali Patel

As we were sailing through the backwaters of Kumarakam, I looked at the top of our boat. It was made from coconut leaves, dried and weaved. This was held together by rope, made from coconut husk. Coconuts are used so uniquely in Kerela. I would’ve never noticed their impact if it wasn’t for my previous learnings.

A view of the Kerala Backwaters our Houseboat

We went to a small red house surrounded by tall palm trees and beautiful sunlight. A man and woman came out and greeted us. I smiled.

The lady showed us how she makes rope out of coconut husk. Basically, A piece of cloth with husk in it is tied around her waist. A machine with two snake fang shaped pieces is used to turn the fibers into rope. The lady ended up making two thin ropes and twisted them together to make a crown. She put it on my head. I felt like a coconut expert already!

Next, a man helped us climb a coconut tree. There are two metal boots wired around the tree with handles at the top. You have to pull the handles up in order to move your feet and climb the tree. When it was my turn to go, it was so hard to climb. The guy made it look so easy, but I think the tools require a sufficent amount of upper body strength to work. Despite this difficulty though, I climed about eight feet up, and the view was incredible.

Lastly, I got to weave a coconut leaf. The lady who was showing us clearly had a lot of experience, because she was weaving quickly. Even though she was fast though, it takes one month for her to make a mat, but it turns out looking so intricate and amazing.

Going to this tiny coconut workshop taught me a lot about how utilizing abundant resources can impact people’s lives. Coconut ropes are extremely sturdy and can be use for binding almost anything, and coconut mats can be used for making chairs and are perfect for sleeping on. When I go back home, I’m definitely going to try to see how basic items can be used in different ways. There are a lot of new tools and methods that are waiting to be discovered.

 

Nirali is one of 8 students in Indiaspora’s inaugural HeritageINDIA Program. A unique, immersive, 3-week summer program, this initiative gives high school students of Indian descent the opportunity to connect to their ancestral homeland. Students experience and engage with India’s rich and diverse cultural history by completing hands-on projects, participating in stimulating discussions, and building friendships with a cohort that will share in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. With the exciting theme of India’s Riches: History, Culture, Diversity, & Democracy, students visit three areas of India that are geographically and culturally diverse, yet all very much represent India: New