It is to this town that thousands flock to watch the boat race and eat sadya (special meal) every Onam. But this year, Aranmula was devoid of the usual festive atmosphere that surrounds this special day in Kerala. Instead, people looked towards the future, many of them wondering what lay in wait for them as they began to make their way home post the floods of August 2018. Life has become especially difficult for the community of Aranmula kannadi (mirror) craftsmen that live in this town.
Aranmula is famous for this community who has been producing this metal alloy mirror for the last few centuries. It has even been accredited with a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag and declared a World Heritage Site. But on the 16th of August 2018, these craftsmen faced a disaster unlike anything they had ever seen before. The floods swept through the town, reaching the 15th step of the Aranmula Parathasarathy temple and submerging entire houses in the process.
"I went mad trying to catch one mirror after the other as they were being swept away. The water had become neck-deep by that time and many of the mirrors that were fixed on wooden frames floated away,'' said P. Gopakumar, one of the craftsmen.
It takes weeks to make one moderate-sized mirror, a mixture of intricate craft and painstaking labour.
For this community, the loss of their homes and their tools, as well as the material with which they work, means a complete loss of livelihood. In partnership with Shapoorji Pallonji International, Habitat India plans to support 18 of these families who have lost everything in the Kerala floods. Habitat India and Shapoorji Pallonji And Company Private Limited (SPCPL) also partnered to distribute 695 Humanitarian Aid Kits and 2 Tool Kits, and for water purifiers and school sanitation units in Ernakulam and North Paravoor.
Together, we hope to help the Aranmula community rise beyond the despair they currently feel and look towards a future that is much brighter than they can imagine!