Held in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the festival was inaugurated by noted Indologist and Koodiyattom aficionado David Shulman.

The fifth Koodiyattom festival of Nepathya Koodiyattom Centre here had an auspicious beginning on Sunday with Nangiyarkoothu exponent G. Indu presenting ‘Govardhanodharanam’.

Held in collaboration with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the festival was inaugurated by noted Indologist and Koodiyattom aficionado David Shulman. He said it was a rare privilege and a moving moment for the university and its crop of Sanskrit students to be associated with the festival.

Recalling his experience of watching the full-length performance of ‘Ashokavanikangam’ a few years ago, the professor said it “was a transformative experience” which inspired him and his students to come back to Nepathya every year for complete performances.

‘Anguliyankam’ Koodiyattom, which would be performed over the next 29 days, he said, encapsulated the entire ‘Ramayana’ and the ‘Ascharyachoodamani’.  

“It is one of the masterpieces of Koodiyattom repertoire.” Koodiyattom exponent Margi Madhu, the force behind Nepathya, said that the performance marked a watershed in history as ‘Anguliyankam’ had so far been performed only in temples in a ritualistic fashion.

“Anguliyankam is traditionally performed over 12 days as pure ritual. Way back in 1993, Margi brought it outside temple premises and presented the entire text over two-and-a-half years by way of weekly performances. Perhaps this [Nepathya’s] is going to be the first full-length continuous performance of Anguliyankam outside temple precincts” he said.

Since it is meant for a ritualistic performance, Anguliyankam is without frills and glitter, but it is in-depth. The all-encompassing narrative structure offers the performer an opportunity for a quick revision of all that is there in Koodiyattom.

Nepathya trustee M. P. Sreekrishnan presided over the inaugural function. ‘Govardhanodharanam’ Nangiyarkoothu by G. Indu showcased the tale of a conceited Indra being humbled by Krishna. Similar in its performance grammar to Kailasodharanam in Koodiyattom, Govardhanodharanam shows Krishna lifting the mount Govardhana to protect his folks when an enraged Indra attempts to send down thunder, lightning and fiery showers on them. Through exemplary experiential acting, Indu conjured up the height, girth and enormity of the mountain and the trees, valleys, streams and caverns dotting it. Effortlessly switching roles, she was at once the peacocks dancing in the sky, the fiery Indra bent on teaching Krishna’s folks a lesson and Krishna himself lifting off the mountain overhead to protect all and sundry.

The month-long performance of ‘Anguliyankam’ will begin on Monday at 6.30 p.m.

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