Royal visitors in awe of Kathakali artists
Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles commenced their four-day Kerala visit on Monday by first taking a stroll down the State’s rich cultural history at the Kerala Folklore Museum and Theatre at nearby Thevara.
The royal couple were garlanded by the museum owners, Jacob George and his wife Anne George and their two children, who took them on a tour around the private museum, which is a treasure trove showcasing the rich heritage of Kerala.
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall removed their shoes as they entered the museum, declined to take the lift and climbed 50-odd wooden steps of the three-storeyed structure.
Two artistes performed Kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala, depicting the slaying of demon Narakasura in Narakasura Vadham leaving the visitors mesmerised. This was followed by Kalaripayattu (martial art form of the State).
The show was organised by the Tourism department.
After the performance, Prince Charles asked the Kathakali artists about their costumes which weigh around 35 kg. He wanted to know how they were able to control all their muscles and their “extraordinary expressions,” the artists said.
The Prince of Wales told them he had enjoyed the programme, but that it was “too short,” the artistes said.
They also watched a Bharatanatyam performance by ‘Paris’ Laxmi, a French dancer who has made Kerala her home since 2011 after marrying Kathakali artist Pallipuram Sunil.
“The royal couple were pleased with the footwork and facial expressions and they spoke a few words to me in French saying ‘unbelievable’, Laxmi told PTI after her performance.
The museum houses masks and sculptures in wood, stone and bronze, costumes of traditional and ritual art forms, musical instruments, traditional jewellery, manuscripts on rare medicines and stone age utensils.
Later in the evening, Prince Charles also joined urban planners and city dignitaries to view the signing of an MoU, marking the participation of Aluva, a town near Kochi, in the ‘Future Cities’ project.
The MoU was signed between Atkins, a British company, and Aluva municipality. The company would undertake a three-year study to prepare a masterplan for the project.
The royal couple also attended a reception for civic and business leaders hosted by the Kerala government.
They also met Head of the Travancore Royal family, Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma.