An indigenous carnival

Basking in masks.

Basking in masks.  

TO BE back home from hostel after a long time is always a pleasant experience for students. In Dr. Ambedkar Cultural Academy (DACA), Madurai, Dalit children love to roam about inside the campus.

Though there are reasons that some are orphans and the rest are from the lower rungs, they have more merry reasons to stay put in DACA.

`Marappatchi' gives them the aspiration to hang around. How can a wooden doll give them the package of inspiration? 'Coz it kindles their mind's eye, unlike Barbie.

You might ask how, if `Marappatchi' is foreign to you. The make of the doll is such that it's left to the kids to dress it up in a man or a woman's costume. Fashion speaks and observation makes an impact.

That's how T. Dharmarajan of `Kallathi' and co-ordinator of `Marappatchi' justifies. Kallaathi's `Marappatchi' goes in full swing from May 25 for these children of the DACA at the efforts of the academy's director, Antony Raj.

Dharmarajan and Ramachandran, lecturers of Folklore in St. Xavier's College, Palayamkottai, along with Palani Koothan, a researcher in the History of Tamil Theatre, Manonmanium Sundaranar University, moulded `Marappatchi' last year with their debut in Seethaparpanallur.

This year, working with these children, they promise to give a folk treat by synchronising `Devarattam', `Thappattam', `Oyilattam', `Kummi', `Karagam' and `Silambattam'.

Dancing for joy

Dancing for joy  

The practice session for all 72 children did not seem to be strenuous at all. They were basking in dancing, acting and making of stage props.

Preparing for a folksy carnival on May 31 was not the only aim of the festival. With a start of `arithaaram', which they mean, lighting of `kuthuvizhakku', introduction of the wooden doll, a series of interesting talks by experts, say about `cheppu jaamaan', tale-telling and hearing and slide shows on animals and birds and a magic show are all over.

Wrapped in this parcel of frivolity is the arrival of the Kaani tribes from Papanasam who amused them by demonstrating the extraction of honey from the beehive and talking plain about their lifestyle.

Yet to come are a documentary on the art of making native toys and dolls and the pinnacle of the festival will be showcasing the children's art.

No audience but for two professors from a city college and Ponnelan, Shakitya Academy winner, says Mr. Dharmarajan.

It's going to be a pure carnival only of the kids, by the kids and for the kids for which they are being readied. M. Ramasamy, Department of Drama, Tanjavur Tamil University, is cultivating the spirit among them for a play called `Selvi'.

By Meyyammai AR

Photos: S. James.

Recommended for you