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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Reviving a temple tradition

Special Correspondent



Ritual revived:‘Velakali' being performed in front of Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple in the city on Thursday.

Thiruvananthapuram: Signalling the revival of a tradition that has remained dormant for decades, 101 artistes led by Rajiv Panicker from Ambalapuzha performed the Velakali before the idols of the Pandavas at the East gate of Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple here on Thursday evening.

With red head dress, cloth garlands of beads covering their bare chests and wielding a colourful shield and cane, the Velakali artistes danced to the tune of ‘panchavadyam'. The event was organised by the Sri Chithira Tirunal Memorial.

A martial art form that originated among the warrior caste, the dance is a blend of fighting techniques and graceful steps. It is believed to symbolise the war between the Pandavas and Kauravas. The Velakali dancers represent the Kauravas.

Marked by vigorous movements and dexterous sword play, Velakali originated in the princely State of Chempakassery (Ambalappuzha). It is still a regular feature of the annual festivities at Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna temple. The ritual used to mark the commencement of the annual Painkuni festival at Sri Padmanabha Swamy Temple here ever since Chempakassery was annexed to Travancore. It took 40 years for the ritual to be revived after it was suspended in the earlier seventies.

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