Folk arts of South India in focus at Margazhi Village Festival

Kamsale dance   | Photo Credit: special arrangement

While Margazhi in Chennai is often considered synonymous with the classical arts, it is also the time when heritage museum DakshinaChitra shines the spotlight on the folk arts of South India. Folk artistes from across South India join, to present an eclectic and colourful mixture of traditional performing arts that are most often only associated with weddings and temple festivals. This year, though there were reservations both financially and otherwise, the management is restricting the Margazhi Village Festival to the weekends, stretching upto January 24.

Artist and coordinator at DakshinaChitra, Gita Hudson, has been seeing a steady crowd ever since the museum reopened on November 9 after being shut for eight months. Having the luxury of open spaces within the 10-acre campus aides this interest. “While I can’t say there is a 100 percent attendance like last year, there is an inflow of steady, manageable crowd,” says Gita, adding, “The festival usually starts before December, and continues till January between which comes Pongal. This year, we didn’t want to give it a miss,” says Gita. City-dwellers looking to get away from their daily, monotonous routines have been reaching DakshinaChitra post-lockdown, says Gita.

  • Kamsale: December 25 to 27
  • Thappattam: January 1 to 3, 2021
  • Panchavadyam: January 8 to 10, 2021
  • Garugalu: January 22 to 24, 2021
  • Each dance will be performed at 11.30 am, 12.30 pm, 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm on the respective days, for 20 minutes each.

Four traditional arts groups from across South India are set to perform. The artistes were elated to join, says Gita, pointing out how folk and traditional artistes were hit hard in the pandemic-led slowdown. “They want to be back on their toes and . They were actually disappointed because initially, we had nine days of continuous performances. Either way, They wish to get back to normal life,” says Gita.

Linge Srinivas and troupe from Karnataka will perform kamsale dance, a performance wielding the 11th Century percussion instrument kamsale (a cymbal-like instrument made of brass) which is popular in the Kannada-speaking regions of Mysuru, Mandya, Kollegal, Chamarajanagara, Nanjangudu and outskirts of Bengaluru. This form incorporates elements of dance and martial arts. John Peter and troupe from Chennai will showcase thappattam or paraiattam, a rhythmic display of movement and music using the handheld drum, thappu.

From Kerala, Nandakumar and troupe will perform panchavadyam, an orchestra typical of the region which comprises five instruments: kombu, edakka, thimila, ilathalam and maddalam. The troupe will also perform the garagalu dance, with an earthen vessel called garaga.

The museum is well prepared to receive guests, says Gita. Since the performances will be in open spaces, social distancing measures can be easily enforced. Sanitising stations are set up “And, arrow marks will guide the guests on where to go. This will also divide the crowd.”

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 4:10:15 PM |

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