Exploring the everlasting tunes of Vanchipattu

A group of youngsters who are trained in Vanchipattu rendition.

A group of youngsters who are trained in Vanchipattu rendition. | Photo Credit: LEJU KAMAL

The ritualistic revelries in connection with the Onam festival at Aranumula, a heritage village in Central Travancore, may still be a good couple of months away. But the rhyme and rhythm of boat songs, which are so much a part of the fabric of this land, have already begun reverberating through its riverbanks.

Over 400 young men from the region have begun taking lessons in the distinctive Aranmula style of Vanchipattu as part of a workshop progressing here. Organised by the Palliyoda Seva Sanghom, an apex body of 52 palliyodams (snakeboats) participating in the annual Aranmula water regatta, in association with the Pathanamathitta district panchayat, the programme seeks to help the youngsters engage with the centuries-old tradition.

According to the organisers, the workshop seeks to open the doors of opportunity for confident and curious young singers, some for the very first time. Led by certified Vanchipattu masters and organised across three zones, the workshop has participants from all 52 neighbourhoods ( karas) that boasts a palliyodam.

“While this land is being regarded as the cradle of boat songs, the youngsters get limited opportunities to engage with this tradition. The workshop will initiate them into the fundamentals of this tradition, its unique styles of rendition and improvisations. Through intense training over the years, they all will be able to recite hundreds of lines of these songs at a moment’s notice,” explained Parthasarathy R. Pillai, secretary of the PSS.

Starting from interpretations of different songs, the workshop comprises various sessions including the selection of lead singers and formation of different sets based on live performances. “With the Vanchipattu becoming a key event in youth festivals at various levels, youngsters are now keen to discover more about this tradition,” added Mr. Pillai.

The three-day workshop will draw to a close with the participants, dressed identically in white dhoti and melmundu, assembling in front of the Aranmula Parthasarathy temple here on Sunday morning and presenting the songs in praise of the main deity in full gusto. The one-hour performance will be followed by distribution of certificates and felicitation of Vachipattu masters.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2022 7:17:59 pm |