Classical dance form ‘Kathakali’ gets its own village in Kerala
Nearly 30 years after first raising their demand for the change, a little-known village called Ayroor (South) on the banks of Pamba river in Pathanamthitta district will finally be renamed ‘Kathakali Gramam’
Decades of patience have borne fruit for a village in Kerala that holds close to its heart an art form that defines the state’s heritage – Kathakali. Nearly 30 years after first raising their demand for the change, a little-known village called Ayroor (South) on the banks of Pamba river in Pathanamthitta district will finally be renamed ‘Kathakali Gramam’.
Villagers here swear their life is entwined with the classical dance form and are third generation connoisseurs of the temple art that is known for its colourful headgear, costume and mudra.
Now, the landmark of the village post office will be rechristened Kathakali Gramam (PO) soon after the panchayat received the letter of approval from the Union home ministry and survey general’s office on Tuesday.
“We are happy our long-standing demand has finally been met. It is a recognition for the village and its rich cultural heritage. We were told this is the first time a village is getting the name after an art form,” said panchayat president Ambili Prabhakaran Nair.
Villagers say their ordeal began in 1995 when they started the Pathanamthitta Kathakali Club in 1995 to preserve the rich tradition of the art form.
“We had many Kathakali acharayas in our village who followed the Gurukul system. But with the passage of time, the tradition faded away. Art lovers formed a club in 1995 to retain that glory,” said founder secretary of the club VR Vimal Raj.
In 2010, the Ayroor panchayat had unanimously passed a resolution to change the name and the state government gave its nod in 2018, he said.
“For the past 17 years, we have been conducting a Kathakali festival in the village. Nearly 10,000 children, many gurus and art lovers participate in the week-long festival. We also impart academic training in schools. Now, we plan to set up a Kathakali Museum,” Raj said, adding that the dance form has two traditions – north and south – and their village was famous for the southern school.
“Kathakali has been an integral part of our lives. Earlier, there were night-long Kathakali yogams (meetings) and discussions. While the southern school has Kalamandalam (a deemed to be university), we need a full-fledged academy for the northern system,” said club joint secretary G Jayaram, addingt that the new recognition will help realise their dream.
State culture minister VN Vasavan said the government will help set up a Kalamandalam-like institute in Ayroor soon.
Many Kathakali exponents such as Kalamandalam Gopi and Kalamandalam Balasubramanian lauded the struggle of villagers for the sake of their favourite art form.
“I salute the spirit of the village, and this shows how they toiled for their art form. It is the best thing to ever happen for Kathakali,” Balasubramanian, the former dean of Kerala Kalamandalam, said.
Tourist mandarins are also upbeat because the art form is the official mascot of Kerala.