Friday 11 August 2023

Ajagarakabalitham: A sequence from the ‘Kalyanasougandhikam Vyayogam’ Koodiyattam

The Department of Performing Arts and Western Music hosted a Lecdem concert by Kalamandalam Sajith Vijayan on Mizhavu, the accompanying instrument in Koodiyattam. The 5-day workshop was concluded by a spectacular display of the art form Koodiyattam, a traditional art form from Kerala that combines ancient Sanskrit theatre with the elements of ‘Koothu’. The art form can be dated back to the Sangam era.

Kutiyattam is the oldest still practised Sanskrit theatrical tradition, recognized by Unesco as World Heritage. However, due to several factors, it is rare to have the opportunity to attend a performance outside specific areas of Kerala. Kalamandalam is the leading institution for the teaching of Kutiyattam. Besides being teachers in that institution, Kalamandalam Sangeeth Chakyar and Kalamandalam Sajith Vijayan are among the most appreciated performers of this art form. The workshop has given students a chance to approach the basic techniques of Kutiyattam acting and the main procedures of playing the Mizhavu drum from masters of this theatrical tradition in Kerala.

Kalamandalam Sajith Vijayan introduced the mythological and historical background of the Mizhavu drum. He explained the function and role of the drum in Kutiyattam Sanskrit theatre as it is performed in Brahmanical temples of Kerala and contemporary stages. He also demonstrated the rhythmic cycles (talas) associated with the drum and their relationship with the bodily movements and emotions presented by Kutiyattam actors on the stage. The information shared resonated with the experiences taught within the department so that students could take a lot away from Kalamandalam Sajith Vijayan’s wisdom.

The acting part Ajakarakabalitham is extracted from the Sanskrit Drama ‘Kalyanasougandhikam’ Vyayogam, written by the famous poet Neelakanta Kavi. It’s the enactment of Bhima watching a furious scene in the forest while searching for the Saugandhika flower for his beloved Draupadi.

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