Millennium Post

From origins to antiquity

From origins to antiquity
Starting around the 4th century in the southern regions of India, especially Kerala. Kalamezuthu is a local art form which includes painting, music, rhythm, dance, drama and magic under its fold.

Kalamezhuthu's ritual art is connected to sacred groves and very old ancestral homesteads in rural Kerala. As a form of worship, it traces its origin to antiquity. As an art form, it is a complex network of kalam, thottam and koothu (drawing, singing and performance) that ends in a finale close to epiphany.

Kalam is dhuli silpa, handcrafted art in 3-dimensional form made of powders from natural plants and done in primary colours. They can be broadly divided into figurative and abstract, which are representational in function. Close to sunset, lighted bell-metal lamps are placed around the kalam with offerings for the deity with tender coconut leaves hanging around the awning. Now, the kalam is a combination of drawing that creates three-dimensional illusion, special lighting and installation. It has a religious aura under night skies of summer days in Kerala.

After sunset, consecration starts with thottam - invoking the deity. The myth connected with the special aspect of the deity called upon is the content of the song sung to the accompaniment of native orchestra. Thus, geetham and vadyam are complementary in thottam pattu. The singing style takes us to the roots of later sopana sangeetham exclusive to Kerala. The orchestra consists of percussions and string instruments and is effectively used for inducing trance when needed.

Koothu is the performance part, the dramatisation of the myth associated with the deity that is pictured in the kalam. This ritualistic dance is performed by people empowered to represent the deity. As the personification of the deity drawn in the kalam for the ritual, the performer is known as kolam. When kolam takes over the spell begins to build up. Soon the singing, orchestra and dance synchronise to create a heightened frenzy.

Major art colleges will be invited to be part this festival with the participation of  senior students. These students would be a part of the festival as observers among the participating traditional artistes from Kerala.

When: 8-14 December
Where: Lalit Kala Akademi Regional Centre, Garhi
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