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Google Doodle pays tribute to Malayalam poet Balamani Amma’s 113th birthday

Tech-giant Google on Tuesday is celebrating the 113th birthday of Malayalam poet Balamani Amma with a special Doodle. She was known as the grandmother of Malayalam literature. Today’s doodle was illustrated by Kerala-based artist Devika Ramachandran.

Balamani Amma was born on July 19 in 1909 in Nalapat, her ancestral home in Kerala's Punnayurkulam. She was a recipient of countless awards for her poetry including the Saraswati Samman – the nation’s most esteemed literary award – and Padma Vibhushanthe – the second-highest civilian award of India.

Amma 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 Amma studied at a young age. At 19, she married VM Nair, the managing director and managing editor of Mathrubhumi, a Malayalam newspaper.

In 1930, at the age of 21, Amma published her first poem titled Kooppukai. Her first recognition as a gifted poet came from the former ruler of the Kingdom of Cochin, Parikshith Thampuran, who awarded her with the Sahithya Nipuna Puraskaram.

Amma’s poetry tended to put a spin on the traditional understanding of women characters. Her early poems glorified motherhood in a new light – she became popular as the “poetess of motherhood”. Her works adopted the ideas and stories of mythological characters but depicted women as powerful figures who remained ordinary human beings. Her most famous works include Amma (1934), Muthassi (1962), and Mazhuvinte Katha (1966).

Balamani Amma 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 honors.

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