„Burning of the Pappanji is a symbol of Kochi’s secular and festive spirit"
BONNY THOMAS, Kochi-Muziris Biennale
Supported by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), this year’s Pappanji is being made under the supervision of artists K. Reghunadhan and K.G. Anto, who are guiding about 20 workers and art students working day in and out to ready the massive figure.
Burning of Pappanji is a public celebration on the midnight of December 31 to usher in New Year’s festivities and carnival at Fort Kochi. “We’re being treated with much love and affection by the people living nearby; they even bring delicious home-made food for us while we are at work,” says Mr. Reghunadhan, who was a participating artist in the first edition of the Kochi Muziris Biennale.
Pappanji — Portuguese for ‘old man’— is the effigy of a suited and booted, old man symbolising the passing of the old year, and is rooted in the Portuguese, Dutch and other European influences on Fort Kochi, says the KBF in a press release.
While the tradition started among the local people of Fort Kochi in the 1980s, the Biennale Foundation has undertaken the building of the Pappanji since the first edition of the art exhibition in 2012.
The construction of this year’s Pappanji, which started just five days back, will hold some surprises, says Mr. Reghunadhan. “It was challenging to make a huge Pappanji in less than 10 days,” says the artist. “And unlike the models from the earlier years, we are making a totally different Pappanji — one with an international appeal.”
The Pappanji stands on a strong base, five feet from the ground, with a steel frame stuffed with eco-friendly material, such as jute and cotton to enable the burning process.
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