Koothambalam– A Struggle to hold the stage

Koothu is a socio-religious art performed in the Koothambalam or the Koothuthara of temples, either independently or as part of Kutiyattam. It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime and comic interludes. The Chakkiar does the role of ‘Vidushaka’or the wise jester. Through his inimitable narration of stories from the epics (The Ramayana and The Mahabharatha), the Chakkiar satirises the manners and customs of the time. No one is above the butt of his ridicule. His wit ranges from innocent mockery to veiled innuendoes, barbed pun and pungent invectives. Koothu is intermittently accompanied by the percussion instrument Mizhavu.

One of the most revered places for the traditional art forms of Kerala, the Kalamandalam is the cradle of Kathakali training in India. The Koothambalam at Kalamandalam is the only one in Kerala which is built outside a temple complex. Kathakali the classical dance form of Kerala which combines facets of ballet, opera, masque and the pantomime is performed at Koothambalam on special days such as Independence day (August 15th). The grandeur of Koothambalam offers a solemn ambiance for Kathakali performance and many assemble with immense passion at the koothambalam during the performance of Kathakali.

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