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Stamp of variety

Abdul Latheef Naha
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Sayanth Thomas from AKMHSS, Poyya, Mala, in the costume of St. George.
Sayanth Thomas from AKMHSS, Poyya, Mala, in the costume of St. George.

The Chavittu Nadakam competition staged at DTPC Auditorium on Wednesday provided a different audio-visual experience to the people of Malappuram. Introduced this year, the 16 teams of Chavittu Nadakam in high school and as many teams in higher secondary category made sure that the musical dance-drama of Latin Christians will become hugely popular in the years to come.

As Fr. V.P. Joseph Valiyaveettil, one of the judges and an authority on Chavittu Nadakam, said that almost all schools did justice to the art. All but three schools got ‘A’ grade in the competition.

The European influence on this art of Latin Christians in Central Kerala was obvious in costumes and foot stamping. The martial art form of Kalari showed its influence in the body movements. Though unique and colourful in appearance, the repetition of themes and monotony of songs made the event a bit dreary. Most schools, especially in high school category, chose the story of European hero Charlemagne. In higher secondary section, there was a little more variety. Tales of Julius Caesar, St. George, and Jacob were told.

Folk art researcher Paulson Thanikkal said that theatrical aspects of Chavittu Nadakam should be given more importance. “This should not be allowed to become a group dance form,” Mr. Paulson said.

Muted by the floor

The stamping of the foot, a key feature of Chavittu Nadakam, did not make much impact in Malappuram as the stage was made of concrete. “We need wooden stage to get the real impact of the stamping,” Mr. Paulson said.

The songs of Chavittu Nadakam in Tamil-Malayalam blend paid tributes to Chinna Thampi Annavi who introduced the folk art. In high school category, St. Sebastian’s HSS, Gothuruthy, Ernakulam district, won the first prize and St. Anne’s HS, Kottappuram, Thrissur, came second.

Chavittu Natakam, the Christian dance-drama of Central Kerala, makes a colourful debut.

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