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An arresting Kalamezhuthu extravaganza

Staff Reporter
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The fragrance of turmeric and other colourful natural powders used in Kalamezhuthu pervaded the huge Jubilee Hall at Kandamkulam in the city on Monday. Artists of this tradition from various parts of the State sprinkled these powders to draw arresting images from mythology in all their intricate details.

They were gathered into different groups representing different traditions and conventions in laying out the ritual art form of ‘Kalamezhuthu' at temples and houses on auspicious occasions.

The demonstration was part of the National Folklore Festival being organised by the City Corporation.

The artists had brought along with them a large quantity of natural colours, such as turmeric powder, rice flour, charcoal dust, and a fine mixture of turmeric and lime, to be used for the ritualistic drawing.

The artists draw the elaborate Kalams with images of gods and goddesses in different avatars and in different mythological situations. “This is a skill we acquired traditionally from our forefathers and practice with great piety and dedication,” said K.V. Radhakrishnan from Balussery, who led the team which laid out the Bhagavathi Kalam and the Vettakkorumakan Kalam.

Kalamezhuthu is usually conducted as part of the festivities in temples in Kerala. It is a centuries-old ritual art form, which has found a significant place among the rich spectrum of fine arts in South India.

It is also one of the rare art forms that exist with three-dimensional perspectives that are not found in any other ancient art form.

Deft hands

Kalams are usually made with hands by deftly sprinkling natural powders to make visually arresting images from mythology. “There are also certain songs, dances (Thullal), mantras, and pujas associated with this art form,” Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

A variety of visually appealing Kalams, including Yamarajayandrakkalam, 64-square Velikkalam, Mudiyattukalam, and Veerabhadrakkalam, were laid out at the venue.

The public can see the Kalams from Thursday evening, said Raghavan Payyanad, festival director.

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