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Kathakali : The Great Indian Classical Dance - Part II

Updated on April 24, 2017
Duryodhanan | Source

Kathakali : Rituals and Sequence Of Events

Kathakali has some elements of ritualistic arts. Kathakali performance has a sequence of events in the following order

  1. Keli - It is a percussion performance just before sunset on the day of Kathakali as an announcement that there will be a Kathakali performance nearby. In the earlier days, it was the only important means of publicity.

  2. Arangu keli – It is a brief percussion concert using Maddalam, gong and the cymbals.

  3. Todayam – It is a dance sequence inside the curtain performed mainly by junior artists in tune with the lyrics contains prayers to the various gods.

  4. Vandanaslokam - It is the singing of the hymn praising the favourite deities.

  5. Purappaadu – It is the debut of the hero and his spouse or other the virtuous characters.

  6. Melappadam – It is a celebrated percussion concert.

  7. Kathakali - the main attakatha performance.

  8. Dhanasi - The concluding benediction dance by a Pachcha character.

Kathakali Pacha Vesham (Green)

Kathakali_-_pacha_vesham | Source

Kerala Kalamandalam, India

Kerala Kalamandalam was established by Vallathol Narayana Menon, one of the famous poets of Kerala, for encouraging and preserving the rich traditions of classical art forms in 1930. His main aim was to save Kathakali. Kalamandalam is located at Cheruthuruthy in Trichur district of Kerala. The service rendered by this institution for the protection and popularisation of Kathakali is invaluable during the period of neglect after the broke up of feudal system which had been giving the greatest support for classical arts. Kalamandalam is a deemed university now and is supported by government for preserving the diverse and rich tradition of classical arts like Kathakali Koodiyattom, Mohiniyattom, Koothu, and. It has grown into a world class cultural institution in which students from all over the world are undergoing studies and research. The Kathakali troop of Kerala Kalamandalam tours foreign countries popularizing and show casing this great classical art.

Kathakali Mudras

Kathakali Mudras
Kathakali Mudras | Source

Famous Kathakali Training Centers

There are a number of prestigious Kathakali training centers in which the Kerala Kalamandalam is the most sought after. Both Indian and foreign students are enrolled in these institutes.

1. Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy, Thrissur, Kerala State, India.

2. Gandhi Seva Sadan Kathakali Akademy, Perur, Palakkad, Kerala State, India.

3. The International Centre for Kathakali, New Delhi, India.

4. Unnai Variar Smaraka Kalanilayam, Iringalakuda, Thrissur, Kerala, India

5. Viswabharathi University, Calcutta, West Bengal, India

6. Dharpanam Kalakendra, Ahamedabad, Gujarat, India

7. P S V Natyasangom, Kottakkal, Malappuram, Kerala, India

8. FACT Kathakali Vidyalayam, Aluva, Ernakulam, Kerala

9. Bharatiya Nritya Kalamandir, Patna, Bihar, India

10. Margi Kathakali Vidyalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala


Women in Kathakali

Women and Kathakali

Women players were not appeared in Kathakali in the beginning as the social condition of that period was not in favor of the presence of women on the stage. The male actors played the role of women and it was not much incongruous in Kathakali as the characters are more or less types rather than individuals. There were some women writers of attakatha in its early phase of its evolution. Ammu Kuttiyamma who wrote Sree Rama Vijayam Attakatha and Kunhi kutty Thankachi who wrote Parvathy Swaya Varam, and Sreemathi Swayam Varam were some of the distinguished authors of attakatha in 19th century. It was in the early 20th century, women began to participate in singing and acting in Kathakali. Vanjiyoor Karthiyaniyamma, Geetha .N, Geetha Ramesh Varma, Chavara Parukutty are very renowned women actors of Kathakali. Arya devi, Geetha Varma P B, Sadanam Sisters ( Sadanam Nalini and Sadanam padmini) are some of the famous singers of Kathakali who excelled in the field like that of their male counter parts. A number of women from other countries also have learned this great art and began show casing the great classical art to foreign audience.

Kathakali Melapadam

Famous Kathakali Artists

Vazhenkkada Kunchu Nair

Pattikamthodi Ravunni Menon

Kavalapara Narayana Menon

Kunchu Kurup

Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair

Kottakkal Sivaraman

Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair,

Kalamandalam Gopi

Sadanam Krishnankutty

Edith Albaladejo

Libosher Nathali, France

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Kathakali Terminology

Adbhudam – One of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating wonder.

Arangu keli – It is a brief percussion using Maddalam, gong and the cymbals.

Attakathas - Kathakali literature.

Attam - dance

Beebhalsam – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating disgust.

Bhayanakam – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating fear.

Geetham – song.

Hasyam – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating humor.

Kalaasham – It is a passage of vigorous dance which severs as a hyphen between two pieces of verse-play.

Kari (Black ) – one of the five basic make up in Kathakali

Karunam – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating pathos.

Kathakali – story – play.

Kathakali - the main performance.

Kathi (Knife) – one of the five basic make up in Kathakali.

Keli - It is a percussion concert as an announcement of Kathakali performance is nearby.

Kottayam – a district in Kerala, India

Kuthuvilaku - a big brass lamp in which coconut oil or other vegetable oils and cotton thread are used for light.

Mahabharata – an Indian epic.

Manipravalam – a mixed language of Sanskrit and Malayalam.

Melappadam – It is a percussion concert.

Minukku (Polished – one of the five basic make up in Kathakali.

Mudras - hand signs.

Natyam - facial expressions.

Nritham – dance.

Nrithyam – enactment.

Pachcha (Green) – one of the five basic make up in Kathakali.

Puranas – books of Indian mythological stories and legends.

Purappaadu – It is the debut of the hero and his spouse or other the virtuous characters in the beginning of Kathakali.

Rasas – emotions.

Roudram – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating anger/ wrath.

Shantam – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating peace / contentment.

Sringaram – one of the nine basic rasas (emotions) indicating amour.

Thadi (Beard) – one of the five basic make up in Kathakali.

Thiranokku – It is the curtain - look by evil characters and demons of the story.

Thiraseela – curtain.

Todayam – It is a dance sequence inside the curtain performed mainly by junior artists in tune with the lyrics contains supplication to the various gods.

Vadhyam – instruments of orchestra.

Vandanaslokam - It is the singing of the hymn praising the favorite deities.

Veeram – one of the nine basic rasas (Valour)

emotionPonnani - main singer in Kathakali.

Sinkkidi - supporting singer


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