Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Krishnanattam And Ottan Thullal

In the twelfth century there lived a Poet in Puri,Orissa by name 'Jayadeva' who

 wrote a famous book in poetic form about Krishna and Radha known as 'Geetha Govinda'.(Song about Krishna).This book is divided in to eight chapters and another name of this book is 'Ashtapadi'.This  poem is well known all over India and still in Kerala the versus from this text is sung using a percussion instrument 'Idakka' in temples during pooja time.  This ritual is known as "Kottipadi Sewa".
The visual form of this poem was very famous in Kerala known as 'Ashtapadiyattam' which is not being conducted at present.
The costume and make-up for Astapadiyattam were adopted from Koodiyattam, Mudiyettu,Theyyam,Padayani etc .
Influenced by the poem 'Geetha Govindam' and its visual form 'Astapadiyattam' the Zamorin of Kozkikode (Calicut) 'Manaveda Raja' wrote a 
book in poetry about Lord Krishna in the name 'Krishna Geethi' .He made a new art form to visualize it which is known as  'Krishnattam'.
There  is an interesting story regarding this.Manaveda Raja (1585-1658 A.D.)
was a devotee of Krishna and he used to visit Guruvayoor Temple frequently.Vilwamangalam Swamy who was his contemporary and a Saint also visited Guruvayoor Temple and stayed there for many days performing worship.It was well known that Lord Krishna used to give vision to 'Vilwamangalam Swamikal'.So in his devout and eagerness Manaveda Raja pleaded   Vilwamangalam Swamy to request Lord Krishna to give vision for him at least once.Krishna agreed and  in his boyhood form he gave vision to Manaveda Raja the next day.Manaveda Raja in his effervescence of joy embraced Krishna.Krishna vanished suddenly with the comment "this was not in the agreement of Vilwamangalam" referring to the embrace of Manaveda Raja.Zamorin got a peacock feather of Krishna  from his hair while embracing him.Manaveda Raja felt guilty about  his action  later and he wrote Krishna Geethi and designed 
the Dance-Drama 'Krishnattam to propitiate Lord Krishna.The peacock feather which he got from Lord Krishna was used on a Crown(head gear) worn for the Krishna character in 'Krishnanattam' for a long period.
This art form was influenced by Koodiyattam,Astapadiyattam,Mudiyettu etc and the costumes which resembles such art forms are accepted for it.
The book 'Krishna Geethi' is divided in to eight parts and important incidents in Krishna's life is the content of each part.These are manifested  as separate
 plays like "Krishnavatharam,Kalia Mardanam,Rasakreeda,
Kamsavadham,Swayamvaram,Banayudham,Vividavadham  and Swargarohanam".
Ottan Thullal
'Sudha Maddalam,Thoppi maddalam,Ilathalam,Chengila are the  musical instruments used for this art form.Krishnattam is considered as a classic art form and now a days it is performed at Guruvayoor Temple daily.Devotees can arrange for its performance as an offering to the deity.
Seethangan Thullal
Kunchan Nambiar was a poet from the Hindu Community 'Nambiar' and they used to play the percussion instrument 'Mizhavu' during 'Chakyar Koothu' performance.Once while the Chakyar Koothu was in progress  which was usually conducted at night, Kunchan Nambiar who was playing 'Mizhavu' slept for awhile and Chakyar teased him on the spot  in public. Kunchan Nambiar felt ashamed and felt angry towards the  Chakyar  and as a revenge  he formed a new art form and performed next day itself  at the same temple  which attracted and delighted the audience very much.
Seethangan Tullal,Ottan Thullal and Parayan Thullal
Kunchan Nambiar was one among the court members of 'Ambalapuzha Maharaja' and this incidence happened at Ambalapuzha Krishna Temple.For the progress and enhancement of his new art form which was called as 'Ottan Thullal' he wrote several poetry books which are social  satire but acclaimed as intellectual classic works.He wrote books in 'Manipravalam' also which is a combined form of Malayalam and Sanskrit.He teased many sectors of the society pointing to the evils and mischiefs with good comedy in those books which are poetic forms of  stories from Mahabharatha,Ramayana etc.These songs are sung by the main Character who dances with gestures and two playback singers will repeat those versus using percussion instrument 'mridangam' and cymbols.Kunchan Nambiar designed the costume also for Ottan Thullal which is different from other art forms.Later Kunchan Nambiar became court member of 'Marthanda Varma Maharaja of Travancore' and stayed in Trivandrum.
 Even though this art form is generally termed as 'Thullal' or 'Ottan Thullal', according to the changes in costume and make-up three varieties of Thullal are there.They are "Ottan Thullal,Parayan Thullal and Seethankan Thullal".Out of these varieties  'Ottan Thullal' is visually more attractive and largely performed  during temple festivals.

1 comment:

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