Reviving a tradition of mural art

DRIVING FORCE: Malayalam poet Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan watching the mural work at the Bhagavathy Temple in Kadammanitta in Pathanamthitta.  

Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

PATHANAMTHITTA: Kadammanitta, the land of Padayani in the hilly tracts of Pathanamthitta, is witnessing a mural art revolution, initiated by the Endogenous Tourism Project (ETP), sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Art lovers and artists of Kadammanitta village have extended their whole-hearted support to this mural art promotional venture.

The village's very own poet, Kadammanitta Ramakrishnan, whose rhythmic rich verses have given a philosophical glow to the native folklores mainly centred on the ancient Bhagavathy Temple there, too has joined the team as a motivating force.

The project, estimated to cost Rs.1.5 lakhs, envisages decoration of the inner walls of the newly constructed `naalambalam' with murals, says P.N. Suresh, executive director of the State-run Vasthu Vidya Gurukulam in Aranmula, who is also the ETP Implementing Officer.

"The project to decorate the temple walls is, of course, a novel venture that would enliven and popularise the mural art of yore, without losing its traditional flavour," says Mr. Ramakrishnan. The poet visits the temple often to review the progress of work and to give advice to the artists. Mr. Ramakrishnan played a role in the selection of the painting themes.

Twenty artists under the Gurukulam mural artist, C.K. Sreekuttan Nair, have been working on the project for the past six months. The artists include farm workers, office-goers, a medical representative, school children and an enginering student, says Mr. Nair.

The artists assemble on the temple premises in the evenings to carry out the work after the Deeparadhana so that it would not hamper their daily chores.

Most of them are Padayani artists. Sixty-five-year-old Aravindakshan Nair, a watch-repairer by profession and a veteran Padayani Kolam artist, is the senior-most among them. Mr. Sreekuttan too has been a Padayani artist in Kadammanitta for the past 22 years. The project will be completed in two years and extra care has been taken to ensure that only natural colours are used for the work, he says.