Chakyar Koothu is a performing art form of Kerala. It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime and comic interludes. However, unlike the stand-up comic, the performer has a wider leeway in that he can heckle the audience. This highly refined art form narrating stories from Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas ( belonging to ancient times), combined with prevailing socio-political events, were originally performed in temples by members of Chakyar community along with Ambalavasi Nambiars. Chakyar narrates the story based on Sanskrit “champu prabandha” - mixture of prose and poetry. The medium used is refined Malayalam along with the original Sanskrit text.

In Chakyar koothu, facial expressions are important rather than choreography. Traditionally it was performed in Koothambalam, a place specially designed to perform Kutiyattam and Chakyar Koothu, inside a Hindu temple. The performer begins with a prayer to the deity of the temple. He then goes on to narrate a verse in Sanskrit before explaining it in Malayalam. The narration that follows touches upon social factors and various current events with great wit and humor.

A mizhav (A big percussion instrument made of copper) and a pair of cymbals are the only instruments accompany the performance.

Chakyar Koothu was performed only in Koothambalams of Hindu temples. Natyacharya Vidushakaratnam Padma Shri Guru Maani Madhava Chakyar a visionary and virtuoso of this art took Koothu and Koodiyattam outside the temples to the common people. He is considered as the greatest Chakyar Koothu and Kutiyattam artist of modern times.

He performed Chakyar Koothu for All India Radio and Doordarshan for the first time, which popularized this traditional art form among the common man.

Nangyar Koothu is a traditional art form performed by the women of the Ambalavasi Nambiar community of Kerala, known as Nangyaramma. Nangiarkoothu, an offshoot of Kutiyattam, is a solo performance with an antiquity of 1500 years. Nangiar koothu is the sole domain of female artistes.

The stories for the performance are taken from the text Sree Krishna Charitam, depicting the life of Hindu God Krishna. During the performance the actress presents the long-winded stories of Lord Krishna through facial expressions, hand gestures and body movements with the accompaniment of holy drum Mizhavu.


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reshma M said...
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