If you visited the Google homepage today, you most likely saw the intriguing Google Doodle featuring a lady sitting down and writing on a piece of paper with books piled all around her. Balamani Amma is a well-known Indian poet who is frequently referred to as the mother of Malayalam literature. And Google has chosen to honour her with a special Doodle today, July 19, on the occasion of her 113th birthday. Amma’s life was an amazing example of overcoming obstacles and realising one’s goals through tenacity and perseverance. Read on to learn more about this Google-recognized Indian celebrity.
Google posted on its blog about the Google Doodle that read, “Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Kerala-based artist Devika Ramachandran, celebrates the 113th birthday of Balamani Amma, a famous Indian poet who was known as the grandmother of Malayalam literature—a language spoken in Kerala, India. On this day in 1909, she was born in Nalapat, her ancestral home in Punnayurkulam located in the Thrissur district. She was a recipient of countless awards for her poetry including the Saraswati Samman—the nation’s most esteemed literary award—and Padma Vibhushanthe—second-highest civilian award of the Republic of India”.
“Balamani Amma was a recipient of multiple awards and published more than 20 anthologies of poetry, prose and translations. She was also the mother of Kamala Das, who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1984. Amma passed away in 2004 and her cremation was attended with full state honours. Her poems describing her love for children and grandchildren earned her the titles of Amma (Mother) and Muthassi (Grandmother) of Malayalam poetry,” the Google post added.
It’s interesting to note that Amma had never attended a formal school, preferring to learn at home from her maternal uncle, a well-known Malayali poet. His extensive library of novels and poetry books was read by Amma throughout her youth, and it had a profound effect on her. At the age of 19, she wed V.M. Nair, general director and managing editor of the Malayalam publication Mathrubhumi. At the age of 21, she had her first poem, Kooppukai, published.
The Google Doodle honouring the talented poet features her lounging on a typical Malayali porch with books and clay pots all around her. She is writing on a sheet of paper, entirely absorbed in her job, with a cup of warm beverage visible near her feet.