Archive for the ‘3.Kathakali’ Category

Kathakali – Kerala Culture

June 3, 2008

Kathakali (Malayalam: കഥകളി) is the most important traditional Folk Dance of Kerala.
Ernakula has a Fine Arts Hall facing the back waters and Weelington Island where most of the days some or other performance will be staged. My hotel had told me in advance about the Kathakali performance there. So back in the hotel, after freshing up i took a autorikshaw from the hotel to the Fine Arts Hall.
Fine Arts hall is a good performance theatre.

The program was about to start. Before the beginning of the drama a loud thumping of drums was heard. This is a usual practice to attract audience and declare the beginning of the performance.
Kathakali has its origin from Ramanattom and Krishnanattom. Attom means enactment or a type of dance with slow movement. Kottayam Thampuran (ruler of Kottayam), composed several plays on Mahabharata which led to the evolution of Kathakali. Ramanattom continued as a part of Kathakali. Kathakali shares a lot of similarities to Krishnanattom, Koodiyattom(Sanskrit drama existing in Kerala)and Ashtapadiattom(an adaptation of 12th century musical called Gita Govindam). The use of Malayalam, which is the local language (albeit as a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam, called Manipravaalam) made it more popular among the masses. During its evolution, Kathakali also imbibed elements from folk and martial arts which existed at the time in Kerala. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes to re-enact stories from the epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana. Kathakali has traditionally been performed in temples and palaces, but nowadays it may also be seen in other entertainment functions.

Subadraharanam was the story enacted in the play.

The five elements of fine arts (1) Expressions (Natyam, the facial expressions) (2) Dance (Nritham, the rhythm and movement of hands, legs and body) (3) Enactment (“mudras”, which are hand gestures) (4) Song/vocal accompaniment (Geetha) (4)Instrument accompaniment (Vadyam) -these were beutiful enacted during the play.

There were lot of applauses in between. The jerky robot like movements of the kathakali artists were very attractive. There are no dialogues by the dancers. Story narration and conversation between two characters was done mainly through the gestures made by the performers. Kathakali songs was sung in the background by a solo vocalist. It was visible that the most remarkable facet of Kathakali dance is its extraordinary and bewitching make-up code. It takes 8-10 painstaking hours for the make up.
The costume also was very attractive. A massive and intricate headgear is the most important part of Kathakali costume. The headgear is prepared from light weight wood. It is embellished with mirrors, colourful stones and pieces of shiny metal plates. Layers of skirts of vivid colours are also worn for buoyancy. Loads of jewelery including anklets, bracelets, big rings and a huge chin caps complete the semblance of a Kathakali dancer. Evil characters also sport talons (big claw like nails) and beards to depict their beastly nature.