India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, spanning a period of more than 4000 years, witnessing the fusion of several customs and traditions which are reflective of the rich culture and heritage of the country. India portrays a landscape of vibrant cultural heritage and spiritual mysticism.
More than anything the nationalistic fervour of the people is the contributing force behind the culmination of the development of the nation from a country reeling under colonialism to one of the leading economies of the world today.
India’s cultural tradition dates back to 8000 BC and has a continuously recorded history of over 2,500 years.
The Indian culture took a distinctive shape during the 11th century BCE – the “Vedic Age” which laid the foundation of philosophy, mythology, literary tradition and beliefs and practices such as Dharma, Karma, Yoga and Moksha.
Indian dance has diverse folk and classical forms, the stories narrated through them are mostly from the epics and mythology of our Great Books like the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and Vedic scriptures.
Eight dance forms, many with narrative and mythological elements have been accorded the classical status. They are: Bharathanatyam of Tamil Nadu, Kathak of Uttar Pradesh, Kathakali and Mohiniyattam of Kerala, Kuchupudi of Andhra Pradesh, Manipuri of Manipur, Odissi of Orissa and Saatriya of Assam.
Often based on epics and mythology the dances also borrow from medieval romances and news of social and political events. Every state of India prides itself in its own art and culture.
Today, we take you on a journey through the fascinating lanes of our State of Kerala – referred to as “The God’s Own Country” – one of the “must see” places in one’s life time as recorded by the National Geographic Society.
Kerala stuns you with richness of its lush beauty and exotic architecture, its ability to overload one’s senses with pure concentrated intensity of colours, smells, tastes and sound.
This is a modest attempt at keeping the flame of national pride in the heart of every Indian within the country and abroad.
We present to you the story from one of the epics “The Poothana Moksham” through Kathakali, an art from that dates back to many centuries and is the pride of Kerala.
Kathakali is an efflorescent art form of Kerala. It has been described as a true representation of the artistic traditions of India and is one of the most magnificient theatres of imagination.
Kathakali gives striking emphasis on Aharya Abhinaya [the use of costumes and ornaments] and facial make-up. It makes strenuous demands on its exponents as this is the only form of dance in which the entire body and muscles and even the skeleton down to minute facial muscles are used to portray emotions.
The story we bring to you today is that of a demoness “Poothana” [Black face mask-Kari vesham – in Kathakali] entering Ambady where little Lord Krishna resides as a babe. “Kamsa” Krishna’s uncle has decreed that she kills all the new-born babay boys of Ambadi, where Krishna is supposed to have been born. The legend says that Kamsa has been told that the seventh born baby boy of his sister would end his life. Unable to identify the babay, he instructs Poothana to enter Ambadi and kill all the new-born baby boys.
Poothana, herself is a rounded character, an embodiment of all that could be - a woman both positive and negative aspect.
Poothana a Rakshasi [demoness] intrinsically evil, attains the beautiful form of a woman [Lalitha – Minukku vesham – in Kathakali]
As she enters Ambady, she views some of the different dance forms of Kerala – in order – Panchavadyam – Karivesham – Thiruvathira – Mayil dance [Peacock dance] Gujarathi – Kuchupudi- Mohiniyattam – Karivesham – Kalari payyattu [marital art of Kerala] – Panchari Melam – Theyyam – Gujarathi dance, denoting the peace and tranquility of Ambady.
Ambady is place full of milk maidens and life is a pastoral in all its simplicity and beauty. Here in Ambady Poothana kills one by one all the new born baby boys and finally enters a home full of women busy in their daily chores. She sees Krishna in a playful mood. Poothana notices women awed at her beauty and she uses this as a tool to gain mastery in the crowded house.
She walks undeterred. Finding Krishna, she is overwhelmed with an emotion unfelt and unknown to her. A sob is stifled in her throat thinking of what she had to do to this embodiment of loveliness, and the same moment, terror descends on her at the thought of Kamsa.
Poothana, realizes that Krishna is not an easy child. He had to be coaxed and cajoled to suckle her poisoned breast. Finally, when the baby starts suckling, he starts his tricks with his tiny teeth.
The mortal fear of life strikes Poothana, when she tries to remove the baby, she slowly understands the might of the baby and desperately tries to remove him from her breast.
In this struggle death creeps in – Poothana shrieks in agony---waving all cautions of being discovered---and in this final struggle Krishna reveals his true form [Theyyam – brought to the stage by girls showering flowers – enters the stage through the middle of the audience].
Krishna grants her blessings and now Poothana is Liberated [or has achieved Moksham] by God himself….
With this final short we will take you to the Finale with a beautiful Mlayalam song [Malayalam is the local language of Kerala] describing the various forms of art and culture of our state…
ADITHI DEVO BHAVA [ THE GUEST IS GOD!!!]
Art Forms presentation conceived and directed by: Ms Veena Janardhanan – Founder Director, Samudra Arts International [SAI]
Stage Craft/Light & Sound: Mr. Ashok Kumar [Art Director – SAI]