Kootiyattam, is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old. It is officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Kutiyattam, is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2,000 years old. It is officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. It is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre. The name Koodiyattam, meaning playing or performing together, is thought to refer to the presence or more actors on stage who act in consonance with the beats of the mizhavu drummers. Alternatively, it may also be a reference to a common practice in Sanskrit drama where a single actor who has performed solo for several nights is joined by another.
A complete Koodiyattam performance consists of three parts. The first of these is the purappadu where an actor performs a verse along with the nritta aspect of dance. Following this is the nirvahanam where the actor, using abhinaya, brings to the audience the mood of the main character of the play. The nirvahanam, a retrospective, takes the audience up to the point where the actual play begins. The final part of the performance is koodiyattam which is the play itself. While the first two parts are solo acts, Koodiyattam can have as many characters as are required to perform on the stage.
In 1955 Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar performed Kutiyattam outside the temple for the first time. For performing the art forms outside the temples he faced many problems from the hardline Chakyar community. In his own words:
“My own people condemned my action (performing Koothu and Kutiyattam outside the precincts of the temples), Once, after I had given performances at Vaikkom, they even thought about excommunicating me. I desired that this art should survive the test of time. That was precisely why I ventured outside the temple.”
Padma Shree guru Mani Madhava Chakyar, Padma Bhushan Ammannur Madhava Chakyar and Painkulam Raman Chakyar were pioneers of this art form.
The Margi Theatre Group in Thiruvananthapuram is a notable organisation dedicated to the revival of Kathakali and Koodiyattom in Kerala.Also Nepathya is an exclusive institution to promote Koodiyattam and related art forms working at Moozhikkulam.