FRIDAY REVIEW

Stickler for tradition

G.S. PAUL

PATRIARCH: Parameswara Chakiyar

PATRIARCH: Parameswara Chakiyar  

Koodiyattom performers gathered at Natanakairali, Irinjalakuda, last Sunday to felicitate Guru Ammannur Parameswara Chakiyar who turned 90 on that day. Elder brother of Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakiyar, Parameswara Chakiyar is also the eldest in the Chakiyar community, the traditional performers of Koodiyattom.

Interestingly, Parameswara Chakiyar and his younger brother, Madhava Chakiyar, represent two faces of the art form - preservation and innovation.

Even as the latter ventured to come out of the Koothambalams to stage Koodiyattom performances on many stages, Parameswara Chakiyar took an uncompromising stand by sticking to the tenets laid down by his forebears.

A traditionalist, he is not bitter that encomiums and accolades have eluded him on account of his orthodox outlook. "I have entrusted everything to Koodalmanickam swami, whom I have been serving all through my life," says Chakiyar who has been staging Koothu and Koodiyattom at the Koodalmanickam Temple, Irinjalakuda, twice every year ever since his debut in 1929.

He believes that the spiritual ambience of the koothambalams cannot be captured at other venues.

Moreover, the time prescribed to begin a Koodiyattom in a koothambalam is 9 p.m. An embodiment of austerity and humility, Parameswara Chakiyar attributes his artistry to the rigorous training he had under his uncle Ammannur Chachu Chakiyar.

As for Koothu, his uncle taught him only two slokas; the rest had to be mastered by listening to the celebrities of those times.

He remembers the slokas that had to be rendered every day in the sama pada position from four to six in the morning. Sophisticated techniques of `nethrabhinaya' were taught by his uncle himself. His first vesham as Vibhishana in `Toranayudhham' at Irinjalakuda is still fresh in his memory.

Innumerable are the veshams that he had donned in all the major temples. But Parameswara Chakiyar's Hanuman in `Anguliyankam' was in a class of its own.

Impressed by his amazing artistry in the presentation of this character, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi, documented him many years ago. A disciplinarian, Parameswara Chakiyar is an outstanding teacher and scholar, who is the recipient of many awards and honours. He continues to be a guide to Koodiyattom artistes and enthusiasts.