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Folk and fun


DAKSHINACHITRA IS geared to usher in the spirit of Pongal with the Village Festival, on till January 12. It brings together folk dancers from South India to enthral visitors.The dancers capture the rhythm, movements and colours of the traditional folk art forms.

Mayilattam, popular in Tamil Nadu, recreates the splendour of a dancing peacock, to the accompaniment of thavil and nadaswaram. Replete with a glittering head dress with beak that can be opened or closed with the help of a thread tied to the hands, the dancer tries to capture the range of emotions of a proud peacock. Siva worshippers of Chikmagalur district of Karnataka performed veeragase, the martial folk dance. Usually performed during the Nandi Utsav, in front of the Siva temple, the dancers are dressed in resplendent costumes and elaborate accessories such as rudraksha mala, rudramale with rudra muke (hip belt), nagabarana, rulalu (head gear) and anklets. As the dance is being performed, a lead singer narrates the Veerabadra story from the `Dakshayajna' epic to the audience. Nandi Kolu, a huge decorative pole, with a nandi and orange flag, held by a member of the troupe and dancing are an essential part of the performance, signifying the festive spirit. The rhythmic beating of chowmela, karade and dollu lends a heroic tempo to the movements.


Velakalli is a dance form of Kerala that originated in Ambalappuzha and was promoted to boost the martial spirit of the people. The dancers dressed in white and red, like warriors and bearing a churia kol (similar to a sword) and a jariga (shield), performed with war-like steps in perfect synchrony with the resounding rhythm of the thappu, chanda and thaala osai.

The Garagulu, similar to Karagattam of Tamil Nadu, of Andhra Pradesh saw dancers trying to balance the garagulu on the head. According to Deborah Thiyagarajan of DakshinaChitra: The reason for organising such a village festival is to expose people to various folk dance forms of our country. The researchers of the Madras Craft Foundation travel to remote villages and locate authentic troupes. The centre also seeks assistance from the Institute of Folklore Study, Warangal, to identify the performers.


The Village Festival also has kili josiam on the thinnais of the heritage houses on the campus, bullock cart rides and ranga ratinam for kids. The elantha pazham, ver kadalai and karumbu vendors add to the rustic ambience. Apart from this there are colourful handicrafts available at the craft bazaar. And what's more, oyilattam, karagattam, poikkalkudhirai and thappattam will be performed on Pongal day.

A. CHITHRAA DEEPA

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