THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This year’s Pongala festival at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, the world’s largest congregation of women, will be marked by an artful tribute to womanhood in the form of a kathakali performance depicting the legend of Kannagi, the central character of the South Indian epic Silapathikaram.
Legend has it that Kannagi is worshipped in the form of Attukalamma after she chose the place as her abode after burning down Madurai with her spiritual powers..
Madhuradahanam, a kathakali play composed by Kottakkal Nandakumaran Nair, will be staged at the temple at 10 pm on Friday. Nair and his daughter Athira Nandan will don the main roles.
The play will have four scenes, the first scene depicts Kovalan’s life with Madhavi and his reunion with Kannagi. In the next part, which will be narrated by the vocalists, Kovalan travels to Madurai to sell Kannagi’s anklet. There he gets detained by Pandya King’s soldiers who mistake the anklet for the one lost by the queen.
In scenes two and three, Kannagi hears the news about a man accused of stealing the queen’s anklet getting killed by soldiers. She wanders through the streets of Madurai and comes across the lifeless body of Kovalan.
In the final scene, she meetsthe Pandya King, convinces him that Kovalan is innocent. She curses him and Madurai. The king commits suicide in remorse, and the entire city goes up in flame. Subsequently, Kannagi leaves Madurai and travels southwards.
Nandakumaran Nair said he first thought of staging Kannagi’s story of valour after reading S Ramesan Nair’s Malayalam translation of Silappatikaram. “I was attracted by the heroine and her valour. My daughter readily agreed to the idea,” he says.
Kannagi’s story gains significance in a society where atrocities against women is a deep-seated issue, Nair feels. “Women rarely recognises her power. The play, which depicts the transition of Kannagi from an innocent woman to a fierce avatar, is an inspiration to womanhood,” he says.
Nandakumaran Nair will present the angry Kannagi while Athira Nandan will perform the role of a dejected heroine. R L V Pramod will don the role of Kovalan and Visakh Sooranad will be Mathari. Music is by Puralippuram Lakshmanan Namboodiri and Sadanam Saikumar. Other artists are Krishna Praveen Poduval, Panavoor Sreehari (chenda), Kalamandalam Prasanth, Kalamandalam Ganesan (maddalam) and Kalamandalam Sreejith (chutti).