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Celebration of music, dance


FESTIVAL The week-long cultural extravaganza at Kottakkal proved to be a memorable experience for lovers of traditional and classical art forms.

FIESTA: Scenes from the concerts and programmes that made the festival a big success.

Kottakkal, a place with a great Ayurveda tradition, is now turning to be an important centre of art and culture. The just-concluded seven-day annual festival of Sri Viswambhara Temple provided a rich cultural fare for lovers of dance and music. It was in 1976 that the annual temple festival assumed the character of a major cultural event in Kerala. Prior to that, the festival was confined to ritual-based activities. It became a venue that brought together stalwarts in music, Kathakali and dance. Stalwarts in Carnatic music like Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and M.S. Subbalakshmi, and Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, had performed at this venue at different times.

The speciality of this festival is that it includes many of the classical art forms such as Kathakali, classical dance forms, music and percussion. The festival began with a `nadaswara kacheri' by Injikkudi E.M. Subrahmaniam. Thanchavoor Govindarajan and P.D Sivagurunathan accompanied him. Rajasree Warrier's Bharathanatyam concert was the highlight of the second day. Kudamaloor Janardanan's three-hour flute concert enchanted the audience. His versatility and experience helped him hold the audience spellbound with some well-chosen ragas and kritis. Vishnu Vijay supported him well. Vyppin Sudheesh and Kottayam Unnikrishnan accompanied him on the mridangam and the ghatom.

Vocal concerts

The vocal concerts of Sanjay Subrahmaniam and Srivalsan J. Menon were two other concerts that delighted the rasikas. Sanjay Subrahmaniam impressed the audience with his talent and voice. Sanjay rendered some unusual ragas, and his melodious voice again put him in the top ranks of young Carnatic vocalists. Srivalsan, a disciple of Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, showcased his skill with a handful of select ragas.

Kathakali performances by veterans and youngsters entertained the audience on five days. Master performers like Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair, Kalamandalam Padmanabhan Nair, Madavoor Vasudevan Nair, Kottakkal Sivaraman, Kalamandalam Gopi, and Kalamandalam Vasu Pisharodi, and youngsters like Kalamandalam Balasubrahmanian, Kalamandalam Rajasekharan, Kalamandalam Krishnakumar, and Kalamandalam Ramachandran Unnithan brought to life characters from the epics and made it a memorable experience for the audience.

Golden opportunity

The festival provided a golden opportunity for Kathakali musicians and percussionists to display their skills. Kalanilayam Unnikrishnan, Palanad Divakaran, P.D Namboodiri and Pathiyoor Sankarankutty ably handled the music.

Kalamandalam Kesavan, Sadanam Vasudevan, Kalamandalam Narayanan Nambisan and Kuroor Vasudevan Namboodiri were the main percussionists along with Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan, Balaraman and Sadanam Sridharan. The contribution of the artistes from P.S.V Natyasangham was commendable. The thayambakas, which was conducted every day at 10 p.m., drummed up excitement and provided the right rhythm for the festival. Thayambakas by veterans played an important role in making it a big hit with the people. Alipparambu Sivarama Pothuval, Mattannoor Sankarankutty, Pookkattiri Divakarapothuval, and Kalloor Ramankutty demonstrated their prowess on the chenda.

Students of Ammannoor Chachu Chakyar Smaraka Gurukulam performed a Koodiyattom (`Shakunthalam' - second part) play. The festival concluded with `Sampradaya Bhajana' by Udayanalloor Kalyanaraman and party.

Apart from these, colourful traditional art forms such as Panchavadyam, Padhakam, Ottanthullan, Chakyarkooth and Keli were performed daily as part of the temple rituals.

Organising and conducting a festival of this magnitude is a difficult task and the organisers - The Arya Vaidya Sala, deserve a pat on their back for their efforts.

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