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Celebrating a text


Select scenes from `Ascharyachoodamoni' were staged as part of a Koodiyattom festival organised in the capital city.

EPIC TALES: A scene from the Koodiyattom festival. Photo: S. Mahinsha

Sakthi Bhadran's `Ascharyachoodamoni,' considered the first text in Sanskrit theatre commonly used for Koodiyattom, was performed at the Koodiyattom festival organised at Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram.

The story is derived from the Ramayana, the seven acts of the play take about 160 days to perform in full.

Select pieces from each of the acts were staged for the the festival. A significant aspect of the performance was that many Koodiyattom schools in the State got an opportunity to perform.

Aim of the festival

The Sangeeth Natak Academy, Department of Culture, Government of Kerala and Margi organised the festival. According to the organisers, "The intention behind conducting this festival was to promote and popularise the art form. Although UNESCO has recognised Koodiyattom, the job of popularising it is in the hands of art lovers, performers and organisers."

As part of the festival, eminent scholars delivered lectures on different aspects of `Ascharyachoodamoni.' Its text and performance formats were discussed and there were demonstrations by skilled artistes.

Kerala Kalamandalam performed `Surpanakankam, Lalitha Nirvahanam.' This story from the Ramayana depicts Surpanaka's crush on Rama and how she transformed herself into Lalitha in her vain attempt to woo Rama. When she fails, she assumes her real form of Surpanaka.

Kalamandalam Sivan Namboothiri's portrayal of Rama was outstanding. The beauty of his acting, inspiring bhavas and maintenance of the sthayi were remarkable. Kalamandalam Ramachakyar's `kari' (Surpanaka) was also done well while Kalamandalam Shylaja enacted Lalitha. Her emotive acting and controlled abhinaya enthralled the audience.

Irinjalakuda-based Ammanur Chachuchakiyar Smaraka Gurukulam performed `Asoka Vanikangam' and `Udyanapravesam.'

This section from the Ramayana narrates an incident from Ravana's court.

Ravana's minister, Chithrayudhi, tries to make him see the errors of his ways through a series of arguments. An arrogant Ravana boasts about his heroic deeds and relates the story of `Kailasaudharanam.' In `Udyanapravesam,' Ravana tries to impress and entice Sita with his royal presence and lavish gifts. Ammanur Kuttanchakiyar, Pothiyel Renjith Chackiyar and Sooraj Nambiar enacted Ravana in three sessions. Rejanish Chackiyar was Chithrayudhi. Kapila Nangiar and Aparna Nangiar essayed the roles of Mandodari and Cheti.

Mani Madhava Chackiyar Smaraka Gurukulam at Lakkady performed a Mizhavu thayambaka. Mizhavu thayambaka, a new format in the thayambaka version was structured and popularised by P.K. Narayanan Nambiar, son of the late Mani Madhava Chackiyar. Famous sequence

`Nepathya,' an institution based at Moozhikulam, performed `Himakaram' in `Asoka Vanikangam.' This is a famous sequence that portrays Ravana's infatuation for Sita. Newcomer Margi Madhu stylishly portrayed Ravana's changing emotions that range from passion to helplessness.

Margi performed `Parnasalangam,' `Mayasitangam' and `Agnipravesangam' on different days. `Agnipravesangam' was performed in three sections, this describes the reunion of Rama and Sita.

The festival winded up with `Bharathavakyam.' Margi Narayanachackiyar performed the role of Suthradhara and Margi Usha was Nati in `Parnasalangam.' Margi Madhu and Margi Sathi enacted Rama and Sita in `Agnipravesangam.'

Margi Raveendran, Margi Raman in Vesham's and Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan Nambiar, Kalamandalam Eswaranunni, Margi Ramanunni, Margi Mohanan and Margi Venugopal were among the other artistes who participated.

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