Kurathiyattom, on the verge of extinction, has found space at temple festivals

The annual festival at the Siva Temple in Ernakulam has been attracting huge crowds over the past years. Apart from the usual classical music concerts, chendamelam, thayambaka and Kathakali, the temple is now providing a platform for folk art forms like Koothu, Ottanthullal, Patakam, Kolkali, Kaikottikali and Kurathiyattom.

While ritual art forms like Mudiyettu and Theyyam are kept alive by their observance as ritual in certain temples, folk art forms like Kurathiyattom would have vanished from ‘God’s own country’ but for the support extended by the organisers of temple festivals. Incidentally, these folk artists do not have many platforms to perform.

Kurathiyattom, which portrays the story of Kuravan and Kurathi (Lord Siva and Parvathi in disguise), has been attracting huge crowds at the temple festival. People gather to watch the interesting twists of the story and enjoy thoroughly its humorous pace, and the jokes cracked by the actors.

This year, Kurathiyattom at the Siva Temple is being performed by Vechoor Remadevi and team. Remadevi’s father, Vechoor Thankmani Pillai, was a legendary artist in the field who performed at the temple for a long time.

The art form suffered a setback in the nineties, and was on the verge of extinction.

However, with encouragement from temple festivals, Remadevi says they now find spaces to perform in most parts of the state.

While Kurathiyattom is traditionally performed by male artistes with female characters being enacted by men, Remadevi’s team is comprised mostly of women. “Earlier women were reluctant to perform in public, which is why men were forced to do even female characters. But gone are those days, now women are ready to take up any assignment,” she says.

Kurathiyattom is performed on three days as part of the festival.