At Kalolsavam, students hit the high notes with Vanchipattu

While many teams opt for Aranmula style that has a restrained mode of rendition, the Kuttanad style with its loud ‘aarpoo erro’ by students filled the venue with raw energy

January 07, 2023 07:29 pm | Updated January 08, 2023 05:52 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

Students of Little Flower Convent HSS, Irinjalakuda, Thrissur, wins A grade in vanchipattu (HS) competition at the State School Arts Festival in Kozhikode on Saturday. 

Students of Little Flower Convent HSS, Irinjalakuda, Thrissur, wins A grade in vanchipattu (HS) competition at the State School Arts Festival in Kozhikode on Saturday.  | Photo Credit: Sakeer Hussain 

KOZHIKODE

Palliyodams, with their fancy parasols, are headed towards Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple and it is a trip marked by devotion and reverence. The vanchipattu competition held on the last day of School Kalolsavam had many teams opting for the Aranmula style which has a restrained mode of rendition.

Decked in traditional Kerala attire and in the presence of a ‘bhadradeepam’ and ‘nirapara’, they start the song after affirming that Thiruvaranmula vanchipattu is more of a prayer. “It’s part of a ritual and hence there is no space for any over enthusiasm,” says Ann Maria from St. Chrysostom’s GHSS, Thiruvananthapuram.

Unique styles

The Kuttanad style is all energy and starts with the loud ‘aarpoo erro’ calls of the cheerleader. Bringing back the memories of the race season, the boat song gathers momentum as it progresses. The ‘theyy theyys’ reverberate through the venue and the rhythm hits the high octave.

“Aranmula vanchipattu is sung by boatmen who are taking offerings to the deity of Parthasarathy Temple. The focus is always on devotion and there is no space for any other element. But Kuttanad oarsmen are lost in the revelry of the race and render a very vibrant vanchipattu. They are essentially farmers and they are in a celebratory mood. You cannot compare one style with another as both are unique,” says Sibidev, instructor.

Dressed as peasant women, the team from Little Flower English Medium School, Thiruvananthapuram, says it took them more than three months to learn the song.

“None of us are trained singers,” says Fathimath Rahman, their cheerleader.

According to Sreejaya, a teacher from Mavelikkara, it is not necessary that the students are trained singers or dancers. “Many teams have never witnessed a real boat race and they don’t know its spirit. Rendering the song without mistakes is important and the participants should make us feel that they are rowers and cheerleaders,” she adds.

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