Girls break glass ceiling in Kerala, set stage on fire with their thimila performance

Devika, Sreedevi and Sruthimol are the first female students to learn the percussion instrument thimila at Kerala Kalamandalam, reports A Satish
Girls break glass ceiling in Kerala, set stage on fire with their thimila performance

THRISSUR: Then three girls took the stage on Friday for their first performance after training on the percussion instrument thimila, yet another male bastion came crumbling down at the Kerala Kalamandalam in Cheruthuruthy. PJ Devika, Sreedevi and Sruthimol were thrilled to do their ‘arangettam’ during the panchavadyam performance at the revered Koothambalam of the celebrated institution.Last year, nine girl students had created history when they gained admission to the kathakali vesham course at the Kerala Kalamandalam. That was the first time girls were doing so since Kalamandalam’s inception 90 years ago.

Traditionally, male artistes donned the roles of female characters in kathakali. Just as in the case of kathakali, there was a gender barrier for learning thimila too. And that has now become history. “I have always been mesmerised by the rhythm of panchavadyam and therefore had dreamt of being part of the percussion team,” says Devika.

“As we were learning Carnatic music, we were familiar with the ‘thalam’ (rhythm). But when it comes to instrumental music, we have to apply some pressure on the instrument to create music. ”While classes were held once a week, the trio mastered the art by practising with senior male students during free time, she points out.

Rachitha Ravi, head of the department of dance at Kalamandalam, says there is no direct admission for girls to the thimila course.“But postgraduate students pursuing their second semester open course in Carnatic music can choose an elective subject and the three students opted for thimila, and they performed their arangettam,” she says.

The second semester will be completed by November. The girls were tutored under Kariyannoor Narayanan Namboodiri. “He has agreed to train us even after the completion of our course. We wish to continue training in thimila,” Devika says.

Comparing different percussion instruments, she says: “While playing chenda, it has to be hung on the shoulder. But maddalam has to be held close to the waist. Since thimila is weightless, we have to balance it properly while performing. Also, chenda students have to practise on a stone and maddalam students on a wooden plank. But thimila students have to train with the original instrument.

”The three girl students who opted for the thimila course, used their opportunity well, says Kerala Kalamandalam registrar P Rajesh Kumar.

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express