We left the boys and the girl this morning at seven.
An hour later we arrived at Kochi Airport (Uber taxi £4.50).
Checking in was easy and as we left the escalator before Security, there was a display of local culture – couldn’t resist it. We had a little introduction to this complex art during the hotel show whilst anchored awaiting the Customs men. Kathakali is the flag bearer of Kerala’s rich cultural tradition. It is a multi-dimensional art form that brings together theatre, music, percussion, costumes and poetry in rich proportion. This colourful richness endears this art form to laymen and connoisseurs alike. Over a span of four centuries, Kathakali has evolved magnificently while steadfastly maintaining its Keralite identity.
This scene actualised here is taken from ‘Duryodhana vadham’. The Kauravas invite Pandavas to play dice with their shrewd uncle Sakuni. He takes on Yudhistira; the eldest of Pandavas and finally triumphed over him with his tricks making Pandavas give in to Kaurava’s demands and had to give up everything. This triggered the war of Kurukshetra. The characters here are (from left) Bhima (pacha), Yudhistira (Pacha), Sakuni (minukku), Duryodhana (kathi) and Dushassana (chuvappu). The evilest of all; Dushassana adorns a red beard with his face painted red (chuvappu). The colour and style of the make up illustrate the nature of the characters. Noble characters have Pacha (green) vesham.
Nangiarkoothu is a woman only theatre that is closely associated with and adheres to the tenets of Kodiyattam. This is a solo performance by a female actor and traditionally portrays the stories of Lord Krishna. In recent times, several talented artistes have transformed Nangiarkoothu into a powerful woman’s theatre that deals with a range of contemporary issues albeit within the framework of Koodiyattam tradition.
Chakiarkoothu is closely tied in with Koodiyattam, and can be considered the oral tradition of this theatre form that is predominantly mime. Koothu also beautifully compliments the Sanskrit Koodiyattam as its vernacular element, thus making it accessible to the not-so-erudite. Over centuries, Chakiarkoothu has evolved as a stand alone theatre, performed by a single actor near total emphasis on soliloquy, especially of a humorous or satirical variety.
Koodiyattam (literally acting together) is one of the oldest extant theatres in the world recognised as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. The art form draws from the rich Sanskrit drama tradition of India and can be traced back more than 2000 years. Koodiyattam was traditionally performed in purpose built theatres called Koothambalam (theatre temple) adjacent to the sanctum sanctorum of major temples. Despite its antiquity, Koodiyattam is surprisingly contemporary in its theatre sensibilities and places great emphasis on a traditional, aesthetic and methodical approach to acting.
Ottanthullal. As legend goes, Ottanthullal owes its origin to a disenchanted percussionist at the receiving end of the actors sarcasm during a performance. It is in any case a beautiful counterpoint to the erudition of Koodiyattam. Ottanthullal is simple, accessible and delightful theatre, based on easy vernacular lyrics and easy to follow histrionics. Needless to say, it has enjoyed far more popularity with the masses.
Theyyam is one of the oldest ritual forms of Kerala that straddles the line between art and worship. In music, percussion, costumes and movements, Theyyam shares a lot with Kathakali and Koodiyattam and perhaps inspired these theatre forms. Theyyam however is more a ritual and the actor is deemed a manifestation of the God. Elements of sacrifice, Oracle and devotion come together to create a mesmerising effect that goes beyond any theatre.
Mohiniyattam is the classical dance form of Kerala that is distinct for its emphasis on slow tempo (lasyam), circular movements and emoting (bhava). Exclusively performed by female dancers, Mohiniattam flourished in the Travancore court during the late medieval period. While the dance form is characterised by its emphasis on lasya and repertoire based on romance and devotion, contemporary performers use the medium to portray a wide range of themes and emotions.
Krishna and Draupadi. This is one of the decisive scenes taken from ‘Duryodhan vadham’ Kathakali. The story goes that Duryodhana resorts to trickery, to seize Pandavas by a deceptive play of dice. Pandavas lost everything and they send Krishna as emissary. Meanwhile Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas meets Krishna and reminds him of her vow that she will not tie her hair till it is soaked in the blood of Dushassana, the brother of Duryodhana, who had disrobed her in the court. The omniscient Krishna tells her that even if he pleads for peace, the greedy Duryodhana would not yield and the battle was imminent.
Exhausted by the historical walk through theatre, we went through Security, took in the collection of orchids and plants and settled to a cappuccino and a piece of cake.
We boarded and by eleven thirty enjoyed chicken masala with some extremely spicy, puffy ‘things’ .
We flew from Kochi to Delhi (yellow to red arrows) a distance of seventeen hundred miles (or 2,728.1 kilometres) in three hours.
First look at Dehli.
We arrived in Delhi Airport, easy to do my stomps (day 101 - yay) with a huge distance from our landing gate to baggage reclaim.
An hour and a half after landing we had bought some sherbet and had been ‘welcomed’ at Claridges (a present to each other).
Bimbling a very long corridor and Bear settled Beds.
Time to hit the pool before supper.
ALL IN ALL NEW CITY, NEW THINGS TO SEE – BUT TOMORROW.....
OFF ON TATS, GREAT FUN