Bommalattam or Pavakkuthu
This is puppet dance and this art form is used to spread religious stories.
Simple folk believe that it is auspicious to have this performance
in their village and that its performance will ward off evil spirits/epidemics
and bring prosperity. The main themes are the stories from the Ramayana,
the Mahabharatha and the Bhagavatha. This show is manipulated by strings
and iron rods suspended from above. The stage is so setup that the puppets
alone are seen through an opening roughly about four metres in height.
The puppets are moved by skilled and experienced players who stand behind,
unseen by the audience. The puppets are tied to the player's hand with
black strings which are not visible.
The performance usually begins at 10 pm. and is over
by about 4 am, the following morning it is continued for a week or ten
days. On either side of the stage big earthen castor oil lamps are placed.
The screen is a big black cloth about three metres high. In front of this
curtain, the puppet make their appearance.
When the chandramati puppet and the dancing puppet appear,
the manipulators behind the curtains have themselves to do all the bodily
movements and dancing. Their legs and arms have full work. The scenes
in which chandramati tears her garland to pieces and laments on the cremation
ground are great attractions.