An extinct art form gets new life

In spite of the rain, the Seethakali performance held at Kanakakunnu Palace recently was watched by a sizeable audience.

Published: 19th September 2019 06:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2019 06:50 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: In spite of the rain, the Seethakali performance held at Kanakakunnu Palace recently was watched by a sizeable audience. There was the traditional makeup, costume, dance accompanied by the music of Chenda and Kaimani. “It was a first-time experience for the crowd, so they enjoyed the performance,” says the director of Seethakali, T N Shaijumon

Seethakali is said to have originated from Perinad of Kollam district. “The efforts to revive it by the Perinad Grama Panchayat proved fruitful when it came back to the stage in August 2017 with a performance at the panchayat hall,” says S Binov, the art director of the Seethakali, which was performed by the group Karappuram Kalakendra. In October 2018, the group affiliated with the Kerala Folklore Akademi. 
It is said that, Seethakali was performed for the first time 150 years ago by the people of Vedar and Pulayar community. 

According to Binov, because the art form depicts gods and goddesses, the people from the lower section of society got the opportunity to dress up vibrantly, which was prohibited otherwise then. 
“The costume, colours and props were made by the local people using materials that were available in plenty in the villages. Including bows and arrows made of bamboo,” says Shaijumon.

The songs of Seethakali were not written down but were passed on orally. “We gathered information from people aged between 80 and 103 before working on the revival of the artform. Around 16 songs, starting from Vanayatra to Lankarohanam of Ramayana comprise the music of the performance,” says Shaijumon.
Seethakali was performed during Onam from Atham till Erupathettam Onam. The performers would hop from one upper caste house to another. The lights of the petromax were used during the performance. 
According to Binov, for the characters of Ram and Laxman, green colour was used. As the colour is used to represent gods and goddesses in Kathakali.

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