Sunday, 12 January 2014

Koodiyattam, the Sanskrit Drama

Thrissur peruma, a programme organized by tourism department Kerala showcased Koodiyattam or Kudiyattam, the Sanskrit dance drama. Koodiyattam, the hundreds of year old classical dance form, was presented by Ammannur Gurukulam (Ammannur Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam) from Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur District in Kerala.

The Storyboard

The Koodiyattam presentation was based on the story of Jadayu (Jatayu) Vadham. Jatayu, the vulture who was good at heart and who fought against injustice is a important character in Ramayana, the age old epic. According to the story, Sita, the wife of Rama, was kidnapped by the asura king Ravana. Jadayu to rescue Sita, fought against Ravana on their way to Lanka (Now called Srilanka), the kingdom of the asura king. The bird was severely wounded in the fight. But before death, he could give vital information to Rama and his brother Lakshmana to reach Sita.

Background Scores

The dance performance was accompanied by mizhavu, edakka and kuzhitalam. Among these instruments, mizhavu, the drum was prominent. Edakka also spelt Idakka is a percussion instrument. Kuzhitalam, the instrument for the rhythm is made of metals and is a miniature form of cymbals. The kuzhitalam is played by a nangiar woman, usually called nagyaramma, a woman from the Nambiar community of Kerala.

The Artists

Sooraj Nambiar who had participated at the World Theatre Project in Sweden, played the character of Ravana. Ammanur Rajaneesh Chakyar, the grand nephew of Ammannur Madhava Chakyar, the mastero of Koodiyattam, appeared as Jadayu (Jatayu).  The character of sita was performed by Kapila, the daughter of G. Venu and Nirmala Paniker, the founders of Natanakairali and Natanakaisiki . Natanakairali and Natanakaisiki situated in Thrissur district are the two important training and performing centres in traditional and classical art forms of Kerala. Suta or sootan, who gives a warning to ravana about the power of Jatayu (Jadayu) was charcterised by Ganesh Krishna. The instruments which supported the dance drama were played by Kalamandalam Rajeev, Kalamandalam  Hariharan, Kalamandalam Ravikumar (Mizhavu), Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan ( Edakka)  and  Keerthi Sagar  (talam or kuzhitalam). Chutty, the costume and makeup of the whole team was done by Kalanilayam Haridas. All the artists involved in the play, carried over their roles up to the mark.


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