Saturday, July 2, 2022

Arts and Architecture

Ritual Arts

Thitambu Nritham 

Thitambu Nritham is the ritual art form in North Kerala more than 700 years old . It is mainly performed by Namboothiris of this part of Kerala. Late Vethiramana Sreedharan Namboodiri is known to be the "Father of Thitambu Nritham". Luckily this ritual art form has not died out with his withdrawal from the stage. Experts in this field like sri Matamana Sankaran Embranthiri and his disciple Brahmasree Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri  (Click here to know more about him) are carrying on the great tradition in the north.

There is no scope for expression in this art. The dancer, in the traditional style after performing the usual rituals, comes out of the sanctorum, and standing under the flag, holds aloft the replica weighing about 10 kg-30 kg on his head and starts the divine dance. One namboodiri to bear the Thitambu, seven players on percussion instruments, two persons to carry lamps, in all ten persons are needed to present this. The dance begins with Kotti Urayikkal (drumming to make the dancer possessed). As the dancer comes out carrying the replica of the idol on his head, the "Maaraar" makes the characteristic drumming when rituals are performed. The word "Thitambu" suggests the direct manifestation of the deity. This is placed
over a decorated turban known as Ushnipeetam. Idols being carried on top of elephants during festivals as also replicas beings held on shoulders while dancing to the rhythm of percussion instruments are a common sight in South and Central Kerala. But, dancing with the replicas on the heads, is a unique feature in the North. The origin of Thitambu Nritham cannot be easily traced. Replicas called ‘chattam’ are made of bamboo or wood with in which a beautiful frame with intricate designs is created.. Foot work is most important in this dance and this is executed to the rhythm of the drums. Each circumlocution is regulated by a different Thaalam (Thakilati, Atantha, Chempata and Panchari). Thitambu Nritham has undergone some changes in accordance with the trend of the times. Though the basic ones (Thaalavattom) remains the same. There are some changes made in drumming (thaalam). Innovation also adds to the novelty and variety of Thitambu Nritham.