Great Indian poet Balamani Amma’s 113th birth anniversary was celebrated with reverence by Google Doodle, with a special doodle dedicated to her. She continues to be known as the ‘amma’ (mother) and ‘muthassi’ (grandmother), of Malayalam poetry.
She inspired generations of Malayalam poets. Her most famous works include Amma (1934), Muthassi (1962) and Mazhuvinte Katha (1966).
Balamani Amma was the recipient of various awards and honours like the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour, in 1987; the Sahitya Akademi Award for Muthassi in 1965; the Saraswati Samman for Nivedyam in 1995, among others.
Her other well-known works were Amma, Mazhuvinte Katha (The Story of the Axe), and Sandhya. Amma had no formal education, and was greatly influenced by her maternal uncle and his library. She published more than 20 anthologies of poems, along with other works including translations.
Amma’s other influences include Vallathol Narayana Menon, one of the triumvirate poets of modern Malayalam, and Nalapat Narayana Menon. She wrote an elegy for the latter, Lokantharangalil.
Balamani Amma widely known as the grand mother of Malayalam Literature
Known as the grandmother of Malayalam literature, Balamani was born on July 19, 1909, in Nalapat, her ancestral home in Punnayurkulam located in Kerala’s Thrissur district. She never received any formal training or education but was instead schooled at home by her uncle Nalappat Narayana Menon, who was also a popular Malayali poet. He had an impressive collection of books and works that Balamani studied at a young age.
Amma has in turn served as an inspiration to later generations of Malayalam poets, a prominent example being Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri. The Kochi International Book Fair gives a cash prize for writers in her name, the Balamani Amma Award.
Her daughter, Kamala Das, would go on to become a celebrated author as well. Das’ autobiography Ente Katha (My Story) is one of the most popular and well-regarded works in 20th century Indian literature.