THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The rhythmic music of Kerala represents a symphony of its cultural diversity, with the southern and northern parts of the State fostering distinctly characteristic schools of practice. While the percussion instruments played in temples are highly evolved and common to the whole of the State, the celebration of percussion ensembles at the famous poorams of Trissur and Arattupuzha have caused the rhythmic diversity to be identified with the North. The regaling classical art forms like ‘Panchari’, ‘Pandi melam’ and ‘Thayambaka’ are typically popular up north, while the south has little by way of compensation. The ‘thala maholsavam’ organised by the Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan from March 1 to 3 is being held with a view to converge the traditional rhythms of Kerala on a single platform.
“Both the southern and northern parts of the State have their own traditions of rhythmic instrument practises. However, the south has lacked platforms where these instruments are played for the public and hence are not as popular as they are in the north,” says Vilakkudy Rajendran, Member Secretary of the Samskrithi Bhavan.
The three-day festival will have a colourful flag off with a proclamation rally that will tour the city suburbs where representative bodies have been conducting cultural programmes on behalf of the Samskrithi Bhavan. “We have extended our area of activity and made it more participatory with delegated bodies functioning in Balaramapuram, Kovalam, Kazhakkoottam and other parts of the city. Seminars and talks will be held at these centres in connection with the festival,” Rajendran said.
Culture Minister K C Joseph will inaugurate the festival on March 1 at the Samskrithi Bhavan. Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar will preside and the spokespersons of Kerala’s folk arts Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Nedumudi Venu and others will participate.
Sopanam artist Njaralathu Harigovindan and Moppila art researcher and author Iqbal Koppilan will hold lecture demonstrations on the inaugural day which will be followed by stage performances in the evening like ‘Muttum Viliyum’, Mridungum and Veena recitals, wind instruments concert by Pazhayannur Govindan and team and ‘Panchavadyam’ by Peringode Panchami Kalaksehtram.
The tribal art form of ‘Chattu pattu’ to be staged on the second day by tribal chieftain Mallan Kani from Vithura will be preceded with an introductory remark by folk art scholar Utharamcode Sasi. C R Rajagopalan will talk about the oral song traditions of Kerala and Karinthalakkottam P R Ramesh will deliver a lecture demonstration on ethnic percussion instruments. In the evening, the folk band Vayali Arangottukara will perform ‘Mula sangeetham’ (musical concert with bamboo-based instruments), which will be followed by ‘Idakka Thayambaka’ by Sreedharan Peringode and team and a percussion ensemble by Kalamandalam Krishnadas and team.
On the final day, Kathakali artiste K P Ranjini will talk on women representation in the instrumental practices of Kerala while Vayali coordinator Vinod Nambiar will speak on tribal rhythms and instruments in the afternoon.
A group from the Attappadi tribal settlement will stage ‘Irular dance’ in the evening after which Kalanilayam Udayan Namboothiri will lead a ‘Panchari melam’. The valedictory function to be held on March 3 evening will be inaugurated by Speaker G Karthikeyan.
Describing the ‘thala maholsavam’ as an imaginative endeavour, Kerala Sahitya Akademi President and Advisory committee member of the Samskrithi Bhavan, Perumbadavam Sreedharan said that the festival will serve to further awareness about traditional instruments.
“Thyagaraja Swamikal has alluded the swaras in music to the pensive mountains in nature. Rhythm is intrinsic to nature and the ecosystem,” he said. State Language Institute Director M R Thampan added that the rhythmic medley represents the need for harmony in nature and society.