Everyone remembers playing a game of Ludo or Snakes & Ladders be it on a hot summer day or a cool winter evening. These board games that form such a beloved part of our childhood actually take their origins much far behind in history. One such game is Chowka Bhara.

In former princely states like Tripura, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Tamil Nadu , Kerala and Punjab, Chowka Bhara was a favorite past time. The game uses easily available articles like sea shells, broken bangles and tamarind seeds, broken bangle bits and coins. The players seek cialisfrance24.com to move them across a 5 by 5 square drawn on the board to reach an inner space called “home”. It is played in a squares format on the floor.

 

)

Fig: A Chowka Board

Fig:A custom made board

-(https://s3.amazonaws.com/nazariya/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/14213949/chaukabara5x5-kalamkari-1-1.jpg

)

 

The four player game Each player have four pawns (coins, bangle bits etc) starting at different positions at the four crossed squares at the outermost ring. The rules of game

Chowka Bhara Board-(http://bp1.blogger.com/5D2Wzovowzc/SB2_kwbnjXI/AAAAAAAAAAU/LXU2kY3WVQo/s400/chaukabara-5×5.jpg )

How the game works: 

  1. The board is always kept in the center during the game.
  2. Each player has a different starting point and initially keeps all his coins there (marked by X on his side).
  3. Each player takes turn to throw all four cowrie shells on the floor and moves one of his coins according to the number as indicated by the shells.
  4. Movement of coins is in anti-clockwise direction in outer squares and then in clockwise direction in inner squares as shown by the arrow in the diagram.
  5. If a player’s coin lands on a square occupied by opponent’s coin. The opponent’s coin is cut and the player gets an extra turn to play.
  6. The cut coin returns to its starting home square and has to go round all over again.
  7. The crossed squares (home squares) though, are safe places and no coins present here can be cut.
  8. When a coin reaches the square left of its home square, it further moves up into the inner squares in clockwise direction. Each coin finishes its race when it manages to get into the innermost crossed square.
  9. The first player to get all his coins into the innermost square wins the game.

Extra Turn:

  • Whenever a chowka or a bhara (four or eight) is got during a throw of cowrie shells, the player gets a bonus turn to throw the cowries.
  • When a player cuts opponent’s coin, he gets an extra turn to play.
  • During an extra turn, either the same coin or some other coin can be played.

This ‘Game of Chance’ finds relevance in mythology Mahabharata. Evidently,in two or four player format this game involves an element of chance by the roll of special dice and an element of strategy .

The Chowka Bhara board game is still played to improve the counting skills of the children . As important aspect of personality development, it was used to teach kids war tactics and strategies as well as eye-to-hand coordination in earlier time.

Want to try this game now? Check out the ‘ Store’ section to buy Chowka Bhara at Nazariya.

Happy Shopping!

 


Author: Noah Unathraj

Image Source: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/02510/14TH_KINNERA_2510681e.jpg

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”, quoted the famous French artist Edgar Degas. Yes indeed in my perspective art is something more imaginative, profound and absorbing to the human soul. It frees out mind and body from the busy mauhauul of everyday life and looking up to something which is delightful and engrossing in a heartfelt manner. Art is the involuntary susceptibility that an insaan feels in a warm way. India is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” unity in diversity hence has engulfed emulsions of many art forms and has become the hunting ground for souls of peoples engrossed in art. Today I am to present you something of an art which has lost its prominence 4 centuries ago. Though it has not totally died down precisely, it has almost been on the verge of extinct but has some time ago resurged back to life by none other than Mister Darshanam Mogilaiah the one of the very few survivors of this extricated instrument titled “The Kinnera” (a string instrument).

A  re-known artiste of the Telangana state, in fact the one person in the country playing the 12-step kinnera, hailing from Ayusaolni kunta village of the Mahabubnagar district in Telangana state. He belongs to a low esteemed family where his forefathers have dedicated their lives in an urge to empower and boost up the spirits of the people to take part in freedom struggle against the British by playing the instrument and singing patriot songs in synch. The “Dakkali” tribe has put in their flesh and soul for design and working of the instrument, has actively participated in the freedom movement. “Dakkali” have been a Chenchu race breed and brought up through odds and slavery right from the start by the landlords and the upper caste people in the society and hence in order to revolt against them have invented the device to unite the people of all the lower caste in their society and have struggled for their freedom and fought their way out.   

Kinnera is a stringed instrument like Desi Veena, has 12 steps which is able to produce 12 different tunes with the 2 strings that are mounted on them. The instrument uses bamboo for the neck, dried and hollowed gourds for resonators, human hair or animal nerves for strings and pangolin scales for frets which are fixed using honey-wax. According to Adivasi studies state that the Chenchus have lost the instrument half century ago when the gourd used for resonator became extinct in this region. This has come into lime light while researching about Panduga Sayanna a Telangana fighter. The dakkali singers sang in his praise using “Kinnera”.  It has almost taken 3 years to trail out and explore this history through the help of Dakkali Pochaiah.

Darshanam Mogilaiah

Image Source: http://cdn.deccanchronicle.com/sites/default/files/Moghulayya_0.jpg

Darshanam Mogilaiah aged 65 has been the forerunner of this instrument now. He belongs to “Madiga Mastin” tribe which is a sub-caste of community. He has been a master of this art and 5th generation artiste in the family which has been playing the “Kinnera”. He is skilled at frolicking the 12 step music singing mostly in praise of Meera Saab who according to a legend, lived during the Wanaparthy Samsthan 400 years ago in Mahabubnagar. Meera Saab, a Robinhood-type do-gooder, used to rob the rich and feed the poor. His ancestors constructed the kinnera with 8 steps or more, Mogilaiah is the only one to build up to 12 steps to produce different tunes with the 2 strings. He uses dried fruit, coconuts or dried horns positioned at 12 places on the instrument, helping generate a different type of music. The ‘twelve frets’ of the Kinnera are made of ‘bull horn’, who have been his treasure which are permanent while the others when worn out can be replaced. He speaks “The Chiluka (parrot) is also a very important element of my Kinnera as it starts dancing along with me in many of my rhythmic songs.” He says people must recognize the sacrifice being made to protect the heritage of the local songs and rising voice on social issues through his family tradition.

With times and advent of electronic instruments, it’s on the wane- perhaps extinct. He is perhaps among the few living bards who can play the instrument and perform. This enthralling singing in hand with the instrument is an experience to live up. He just doesn’t want to be recognized as a performer of this wonderful instrument, but preserve the art of it. Through his endeavors he has received a fillip in the form of Dasari Ranga, a research scholar of Osmania University, who is doing a thesis on “Karshaka Geetalu” (folk songs of agricultural workers) has arranged a program to showcase the art resulting in authorities of Telugu University and University oh Hyderabad (UoH) for introducing a course on kinnera folk art for which Mogilaiah could be an instructor.    

Music is the entity which binds a person together irrespective of his caste, creed and color. Even though its origin is from the flock flare it has found out its way through and has been an important criterion in enhancing and encouraging the morale of the people even at hardships, thought dead has risen out now in order to re-mesmerize back the people and showcase its versatility on the world stage and give the while a wider perspective of so many such art forms which are there lying underneath waiting for an opportunity for them to be resurged back to life.    


Content Research by Shivanki Kannan

Ever played board games when you want to spend a good time with your family and friends or just when you are too lazy to go out?

All of us have played games like Uno, Carrom, Snakes and Ladders and Ludo which require us to go out and purchase the paraphernalia. But what about games whose counts can be found at home itself? Sounds interesting right? Such a game is Chouka. It is a board game that encourages players to stay at home and make use of things easily available  in Indian houses (sea shells(cowries), broken bangles and tamarind seeds) to play by making squares on the floor. Chouka Bhara or Chouka as it is popularly known is played in all parts of India under different names and rules; in Tripura, Chowka is a ‘Race Game’ where in two to four players race their respective coins on a board of 5×5 squares to reach the inner most square. The movement of coins is controlled by throw of four cowrie  shells, hence it is a game of chance. Since each player has four coins, he can decide which coin to move; hence it also comes under strategic games. This game is an example of a partially observable system that involves an element of chance introduced by the roll of special dice and an element of strategy (the strategy being the pawn the player decides to move after the roll of the dice).

 

image source- www.desitoys.com

image source- www.desitoys.com

THE HISTORY

Like Snakes and Ladders, Chouka too was invented in the Vedic era, it traces its history to the Indian epic of Mahaharata which narrates the story of a warrior clan, the major part of it being about The Pandavas losing a game of Chouka to their cousins The Kauravas with their entire kingdom and wealth and a battle that followed for the reconquest of their lost kingdom. It was played mostly during the royal era and this game was mainly developed to improve the counting skills of the children. However, it also taught the kids war tactics and strategies as well as eye-to-hand coordination. It is known by different names in different states of India, Challas Aath in Maharashtra, Kavidi kali in Madhya Pradesh, Khaddi Khadda in Punjab and many other typical names.

THE SETUP

It is normally played in a 5×5 square board.  But one can also increase the number of squares depending on the number of players to any odd number squared (for example, 11×11). Assuming the size of the board is NxN (with N being odd), then each player will have N-1 pawns. But the 5×5 and 7×7 versions are more popular. The squares are drawn on floor or a custom made board usually covered with silk are used.

THE PRESENT

This is primarily a game of chance, but involves thinking and planning. It also helps in developing counting skills. It is an interesting and fun way to develop strategy skills.  Also there are several online sites (www.desitoys.com) which sell the Chouka boards and related items. Sometimes the boards are made more attractive by doing Madhubani paintings on them. The popularity of the game has decreased with the introduction of new games and technology. Chouka is taking a different turn with people launching the android and online version of the game, regaining its popularity.


Content Research and Conceptualization by Kaavya Lakshman; Written by Ananya Maahir and Kaavya Lakshman

God’s own country Kerala is home to a variety of dance forms that have been developed, practised and polished over due course of time. Out of the many captivating ones practised, a lesser known one is the temple dance form is Thidambu Nrithyam.

Over 700 years, this dance form is believed to have its root in the culture and traditions of North Malabar. One of the most popular of all myths on the origin of this dance form centres around Akoora, a devotee of Lord Krishna, who was in search of the Lord’s footsteps!

It is a tough task to master this unconventional form of dancing. One such maestro is Brahmashree Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri.  BPG Namboothiri “Guruji” is a distinguished Thidambu Nrithyam artist at Kerala Temples. His unique style of performance makes even the laymen praise this attractive dance form across the length and breadth of country including cities like Bengaluru, Trivandrum, Kochi, Thrissur and Calicut.

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

The performance of the marvellous dance form involves the artist to carry the Thidambu or the decorated idol of the deity on his head. It is a conventional practise for the artist to be a male member of a Brahmin family. The replicas are made up of bamboo and are adorned with gold and flowers weighing an astonishing 10 kgs. While performing, the dancers wear a skirt of pleated cloth, silk vest, earrings, bangles, necklaces and delightfully decorated turbans known as Ushnipeetam. Restricted use of facial expressions and emotions makes this dance form a peculiar one. Drumbeats correspond to particular footsteps of the dancer. It is one of the oldest dance forms which has, like other dance forms, allowed for accommodation of newer trends in style and performance. However, the basic steps and the unyielding devotion has withstood the test of time!

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com

Image Source- www.paradise-kerala.com


Author: Priyanka Nair

Pabuji ki Phad

Amidst the arid sands of Thar and patches of scanty vegetation and greenery, the spirit and chivalry of this land of magnificent forts and its people piques one’s interest. The state of Rajasthan has been able to preserve its rich cultural legacy in its varied forms, be it art, architecture or cuisine. Various schools (gharanas) of Hindustani music and miniature paintings, dance forms like Ghoomar and Kalbelia are still an integral part of the cultural life of Rajasthan. Among these well-known art forms, Phad paintings occupy a special place, which underscore the glorious past of Rajasthan.

Phad art is a style of religious-folk painting made on a piece of cloth that resembles a large scroll. Phad in local dialect means ‘fold’ and this is used as a canvas to depict various episodes from the life of local deities, mainly Pabuji and Devnarayan. Lord Devnarayan is believed to be the incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu and Pabuji, the incarnation of Laxman (brother of lord Rama).

This art form is more than seven hundred years old and this style of painting is mainly done by Joshi families of Bhilwara district in Rajasthan. Long time ago, Chochu Bhat, a profound devotee of Lord Devnarayan commissioned the ‘Joshi family’ to illustrate the entire life of the folk-deity on Phad. From then onwards, Joshi families have become the traditional torchbearers of this art form.

Artist at work

Making Phad paintings is a long and elaborate process, and artists take a month or more to complete it. The artist not only paints but also makes the Phad (cloth canvas) and colours. Hand-spun cotton cloth is preferred and has to be processed so that the artist gets the required smooth canvas. Artists use plants, vegetables and stones to make natural colours, which help in preserving Phad paintings for long.

The entire life of the deity or epic-hero is shown on a Phad. The Phad is divided into various sections, each section depicting a particular episode from the life of the deity. The size of a particular figure portrays the social status and the importance of its role in the story. The unique feature of this art form is that the figures face each other and not the viewer.

After the completion of the painting, these Phads are used as ‘mobile temples’, where the bhopas (singer- priests) unroll the Phad after sunset, perform customary rituals and start narrating the epic stories of folk deities. Each episode is narrated on the basis of the paintings drawn on the Phad. The narration goes on throughout the night and is accompanied by music, hymns and dance.

Narration accompanied by music brings the epic characters to life

Various renowned Phad painters like Shree Lal Joshi, Nand Kishor Joshi, Pradeep Mukherjee, and Kalyan Joshi through their creative and innovative techniques have given a new lease of life to this art form. Shree Lal Joshi and Nand Kishor Joshi went to the extent of starting learning centres in Bhilwara to spread this invaluable knowledge to new artists irrespective of caste or any other religious bias. These artists left no stone unturned to revitalize this art form.

Artists play an imperative role in preserving knowledge associated with art forms like Phad. Team members of Nazariya came across such an inspiring artist in Delhi. Shankar Lal Bhopa who hails from a small village near Jaipur, came to Delhi twenty-five years ago to make a living. He is well-versed in oil painting and Phad art, and has exhibited his works at Craft fairs in Delhi Haat and Global Art Village in Dubai. He has been able to carve out a niche for himself, but says that advent of digital printing and related technology has affected his work. Nevertheless, he tries to focus on his work as this is his only ‘possession’ and he intends to carry forward the rich legacy of his father.


Author: Nithul Krishna

THE TRADITION

 The evolution of Kalaripayattu happened in South India. The sage Agastya Muni is believed to have created this ancient martial-arts form.  Kalaripayattu trainings are traditionally done inside the Kalari and are undertaken by trainers traditionally titled as Guru or Asan. Describing the Kalari , it has Puttara .  The Puttara is a seven tiered platform placed in the south-west corner and houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Vignesva (strength), Channiga (patience), Vishnu (power to command), Vadugashcha (the posture), Tadaguru (training), Kali (the expression) and Vakasta – purushu (sound). Other deities, most of them incarnations of the Bhagavathi or Shiva, are installed in the corners. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day.  The Guru or Asan in the Kalaris masters their students the esoteric physical and spiritual disciplines needed to master Kalaripayattu.

Agastya Muni was a short, well built man, who travelled for aeons , seeking and embracing the essence of various things that the nature exhibits . Wild life in his era happened to be quite populated in most of the areas. Unlike now, the tigers couldn’t be counted at those times,  as they reserved a gigantic population and was obviously ferocious en route the destinations , travellers were attacked by the Tigers and other animals . So, Agastya Muni evolved a system to fight the wildlife – if a tiger comes, how to handle it. As a self-defence, he taught martial arts to a few people just to manage the wildlife when they travelled, and it still lives.

Along with other art forms, which were perceived and enjoyed Kalaripayattu had an enormous consideration and was encouraged as an art form by its exponents. Art for entertainment has always thrived, even in tough economic times. But with Kalaripayattu the story has been different. It is slowly losing its original structure, due to lack of application in the present world.

Image Source: CVN Kalari

THE ARTISANS

The teacher in The Kalari is called Guru or Asan. Teachers of Ezhuthu Kalari or EzhuthuPalli too were known as Asan or Ezhuthassan. The traditional astrologer casteGanaka orKaniyar were the Preceptors of fencing techniques. They are still addressed by the title Panickar in certain regions of Kerala. The Kaniyar community of Kerala, particularly central and northern region, by virtue of their past traditional occupation as teachers of a martial art (Kalari) are commonly known as Panicker. The northern style was practiced primarily by the Nairs and the Thiyyas, the two communities associated with the martial arts practice in Kerala as well as some Mappilas and Saint Thomas Christians. The southern style, called Adi Murai, was practiced largely by the Nadars and has features distinguishing it from its other regional counterparts. Northern kalaripayattu is based on elegant and flexible movements, evasions, jumps and weapons training, while the southern “Adi Murai” style primarily follows the hard impact based techniques with priority in empty hand fighting and pressure point strikes. Both systems make use of internal and external concepts.

Some of the flexibility training methods in northern Kalaripayattu are applied in Kerala dance forms and Kathakali dancers who knew martial arts were believed to be markedly better than the other performers. Some traditional Indian dance schools still incorporate Kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen.

Weapons used in Kalaripayatttu

   Kalaripayattu had its major transition in China. When people went to China, once they crossed the Himalayas, they faced wild men who were always looking to attack the traveller. So what they had learned to handle the wildlife, they used it on wild men. Once they started using it on people, you will see a distinct transformation in the martial arts. From a very crouching kind of martial art to a “standing up” kind of martial art is what you will see from India to the Chinese and further into South-East Asia. So there came an evolution, which sought different techniques and the use of different weapons.

The Kettukari

Image Source: http://www.swiss-karate.com/site/fr/img/shop/Kobudo-Kettukari.jpg

This turns out to be the first weapon of choice . A long stick of length longer than the body length , and is wielded in large circular movements


The Ceruvadi

Image Source: http://balikalari.noads.biz/images/STICKFGT.JPG

A Ceruvadi is basically a short stick which is used to teach the students how to act in a fight with fast moving weapons . Its strikes and manoeuvres are performed as swift as possible. This eradicates the fear in the students of being in the vicinity of potential danger .


The Otta

Image Source: http://uwm.tv/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/oldest-wma-weapon.jpg

It is a short curved stick . The otta signifies the downward flowing energy , which is used for attacks performed from down to up . It is majorly used to penetrate most of the Marmas or vital point of Human Body .


The Urumi

Image Source: Deadliest Warrior Wikki

Urumi is an integral and a significant weapon in the fight . It is a hilt with a flexible blade of at least one and half metres . The weapon is wielded in circular movements around the body .The weapon seeks an unusual pace midway and forms a shield making it difficult for the opponent to figure out the weak points of the fighter .


The Venmezhu

Image Source: http://balikalari.in/images/axe.GIF

Venmezhu or the axe is used to chop through the armour . It has the ability to break the bones easily. This turns out to be an efficient combination weapon.

Apart from all these main weapons , the applications stand out to be unique and perfect when compared with other forms of Martial Arts. The verumkai Prayogam teaches a student how , when and where to hit a marma with bare hands. This turns out to be useful under ambushing. Another tactics, which forms a series of locks and holds resembling the wrestling , are called The ‘Kettum Piditavum’.

 

 

 


Author: Nithul Krishna

THE TRADITION

 The evolution of Kalaripayattu happened in South India. The sage Agastya Muni is believed to have created this ancient martial-arts form.  Kalaripayattu trainings are traditionally done inside the Kalari and are undertaken by trainers traditionally titled as Guru or Asan. Describing the Kalari , it has Puttara .  The Puttara is a seven tiered platform placed in the south-west corner and houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven abilities that each person must possess: Vignesva (strength), Channiga (patience), Vishnu (power to command), Vadugashcha (the posture), Tadaguru (training), Kali (the expression) and Vakasta – purushu (sound). Other deities, most of them incarnations of the Bhagavathi or Shiva, are installed in the corners. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day.  The Guru or Asan in the Kalaris masters their students the esoteric physical and spiritual disciplines needed to master Kalaripayattu.

Agastya Muni was a short, well built man, who travelled for aeons , seeking and embracing the essence of various things that the nature exhibits . Wild life in his era happened to be quite populated in most of the areas. Unlike now, the tigers couldn’t be counted at those times,  as they reserved a gigantic population and was obviously ferocious en route the destinations , travellers were attacked by the Tigers and other animals . So, Agastya Muni evolved a system to fight the wildlife – if a tiger comes, how to handle it. As a self-defence, he taught martial arts to a few people just to manage the wildlife when they travelled, and it still lives.

Along with other art forms, which were perceived and enjoyed Kalaripayattu had an enormous consideration and was encouraged as an art form by its exponents. Art for entertainment has always thrived, even in tough economic times. But with Kalaripayattu the story has been different. It is slowly losing its original structure, due to lack of application in the present world.

 

THE ARTISANS

The teacher in The Kalari is called Guru or Asan. Teachers of Ezhuthu Kalari or EzhuthuPalli too were known as Asan or Ezhuthassan. The traditional astrologer casteGanaka orKaniyar  were the Preceptors of fencing techniques. They are still addressed by the title Panickar in certain regions of Kerala. The Kaniyar community of Kerala, particularly central and northern region, by virtue of their past traditional occupation as teachers of a martial art (Kalari) are commonly known as Panicker. The northern style was practiced primarily by the Nairs and the Thiyyas, the two communities associated with the martial arts practice in Kerala as well as some Mappilas and Saint Thomas Christians. The southern style, called Adi Murai, was practiced largely by the Nadars and has features distinguishing it from its other regional counterparts. Northern kalaripayattu is based on elegant and flexible movements, evasions, jumps and weapons training, while the southern “Adi Murai” style primarily follows the hard impact based techniques with priority in empty hand fighting and pressure point strikes. Both systems make use of internal and external concepts.

Some of the flexibility training methods in northern Kalaripayattu are applied in Kerala dance forms and Kathakali dancers who knew martial arts were believed to be markedly better than the other performers. Some traditional Indian dance schools still incorporate Kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen.

 

 

Weapons used in Kalaripayatttu

   Kalaripayattu had its major transition in China. When people went to China, once they crossed the Himalayas, they faced wild men who were always looking to attack the traveller. So what they had learned to handle the wildlife, they used it on wild men. Once they started using it on people, you will see a distinct transformation in the martial arts. From a very crouching kind of martial art to a “standing up” kind of martial art is what you will see from India to the Chinese and further into South-East Asia. So there came an evolution, which sought different techniques and the use of different weapons.

The Kettukari

Image Source: http://www.swiss-karate.com/site/fr/img/shop/Kobudo-Kettukari.jpg

This turns out to be the first weapon of choice . A long stick of length longer than the body length , and is wielded in large circular movements


The Ceruvadi

Image Source: http://balikalari.noads.biz/images/STICKFGT.JPG

A Ceruvadi is basically a short stick which is used to teach the students how to act in a fight with fast moving weapons . Its strikes and manoeuvres are performed as swift as possible. This eradicates the fear in the students of being in the vicinity of potential danger .


The Otta

Image Source: http://uwm.tv/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/oldest-wma-weapon.jpg

It is a short curved stick . The otta signifies the downward flowing energy , which is used for attacks performed from down to up . It is majorly used to penetrate most of the Marmas or vital point of Human Body .


The Urumi

Image Source: https://smediacacheak0.pinimg.com/736x/f9/77/02/f977023daa5ca6b772f6a6ad0d01aaed.jpg

Urumi is an integral and a significant weapon in the fight . It is a hilt with a flexible blade of at least one and half metres . The weapon is wielded in circular movements around the body .The weapon seeks an unusual pace midway and forms a shield making it difficult for the opponent to figure out the weak points of the fighter .


The Venmezhu

Image Source: http://balikalari.in/images/axe.GIF

Venmezhu or the axe is used to chop through the armour . It has the ability to break the bones easily. This turns out to be an efficient combination weapon.

 

Apart from all these main weapons , the applications stand out to be unique and perfect when compared with other forms of Martial Arts. The verumkai Prayogam teaches a student how , when and where to hit a marma with bare hands. This turns out to be useful under ambushing. Another tactics, which forms a series of locks and holds resembling the wrestling , are called The ‘Kettum Piditavum’.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Author: Priyanka Nair

Image Source: http://keralaculture.org/image-gallery/large/kutiyattam_large.jpg

Kerala, ‘God’s own country’ is a marvel in itself. Every bird of passage is left mesmerised by the serene and beautiful backwaters, sandy beaches and varied culture of Kerala. The whole gamut of art in the form of festivals, paintings, percussion instruments and music leaves an everlasting spell on every art aficionado. One such art form that leaves an indelible impression on the minds is ‘Koodiyatam’ (Kuttiyatam), the Sanskrit theatre tradition of Kerala. It has been recognised by UNESCO as the ‘Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

Koodiyattam is more than two hundred years old and is a precursor of the enchanting dance form of Kerala, Kathakali. It is traditionally performed in the temple theatres of Kerala known as Koothambalams. Many acts from great epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as, many plays written by great Sanskrit dramatists like Kalidasa, Bhasa are performed by Koodiyattam artists. The art form is so elaborate and intricate that to even enact a few verses from a play can take hours and the entire performance can last for days.

Koodiyattam means “performing together”. The actors perform in unison with the musicians who play various instruments like Mizhavu, Edakka (Idakka), Thimila, Kuzhithalam, Kurumkuzhal and Sankhu. The actors meticulously make use of eye and facial expressions, mudras (hand gestures), accompanied with ragas and vedic chants, and recreate a pristine ambience that transports one to a different realm of creativity and mysticism. The role of the male characters is performed by Chakyars (a caste among the Hindus) and female characters by Nangyars (women from Nambiar community). The entire Sanskrit act is explained by the Vidushaka (jester) in simple Malayalam, whose presence makes the entire act lively and humorous.

Koodiyattam is an intangible oral art form accompanied by tangible musical instruments, elaborate costumes, dramatic make-up and jewellery. These tangible aspects of this oral tradition bring out the myriad moods that transport the connoisseurs of art to a world of pure delight.

 

 

The various musical instruments that add to the rhythmic beauty of this art form are:

 

Mizhavu

Image Source: http://keralaculture.org/image-gallery/large/mizhavu_large.jpg

Mizhavu is the most prominent percussion instrument used in Koodiyattam. This instrument is considered deva vadyam (divine instrument or instrument of gods) and is generally used during ritualistic temple performances. It resembles a pot shaped drum and is made of either copper or clay. Its narrow mouth is covered with a parchment and this instrument is played with hands.


Edakka

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9d/Edakka_-_Idakka_-_Edaykka.JPG/800px-Edakka_-_Idakka_-_Edaykka.JPG

Edakka( Idakka) is also a deva vadyam and is a drum; shaped like an hour glass. It is part of the Panchavadyam (literally five instruments), which is an instrumental music art form of Kerala. Idakka is played with the help of a thin stick which is made out of tamarind wood. This instrument is considered sacred and is never kept on the ground.


Timila

Image Source: http://keralaculture.org/image-gallery/large/thimila_large.jpg

Timila is an important percussion instrument which resembles an elongated hour glass. The body of Timila is made out of the wood of jack fruit tree and the structure of this instrument resembles a fish (Timi). This instrument has been mentioned in Silappadikaram (a great classic in Tamil literature).


Madhalam

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/54/Maddalam.jpg/800px-Maddalam.jpg

It is a percussion instrument widely used in temple rituals of Kerala. Its original name is ‘Mardala’ and it has been mentioned in the great epic, Mahabharata. It is made out of the wood of jackfruit tree. This instrument is tied around the waist and played with hands. It is an important part of Panchavadyam and is also used while performing Kathakali.


Kurumkuzhal

Image Source: http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/dynamic/02012/19trksh04-velap_Na_2012365e.jpg

It is a wind instrument. It resembles Shehnai and is also refered as ‘mukha veena’. This wind instrument provides a melodious stroke to the ritualistic temple art form.


Kuzhithalam and Sankhu

Image Sources:                                                                                                                                                   http://cdn3.bigcommerce.com/s-qtsgzag/products/26232/images/45552/52504358_1__17620.1456568432.1280.1280.jpg?c=2     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lS13b4MNBkQ/UCTHq_1emtI/AAAAAAAAAY0/8jSILlV8yEM/s1600/shangu.JPG

Kuzhithalam is the miniature form of a cymbal with a deep inward hollow. It is usually played by a Nangiar woman who is called Nagyaramma (a woman from the Nambiar community of Kerala), who also recites Sanskrit verses. Kuzhithalam provides rhythm to the entire ritualistic discourse. Sankhu (Conch shell) is a wind instrument, Sushira Vadya and is an indispensable part of almost all temple rituals in India.


Koodiyattam Costumes and Make-Up

Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8f/KoodiyattamFaceCostume.jpg/220px-KoodiyattamFaceCostume.jpg

Koodiyattam is known for its elaborate headdresses, intricate costumes and make-up. The costumes mostly feature bright colours like red, white and black. The Vidushaka or jester is dressed differently, and is provided a small head gear and special make-up, so that he stands out among the rest of the artists. Various patterns and colour schemes used by Chuttikkaran (make-up artist) symbolise varied moods, emotions and gunas (attributes) of the character. For instance, green colour symbolises sattivika nature, red colour is symbolic of rajasic nature (emotions like ambition and violence) and black represents tamasic nature. The colours painted on the faces of artists are made up of locally available materials like vegetables dyes, powdered rice, turmeric, saffron, leaves of Acacia, (kohl made from) gingelly oil etc.

 


Author: Seemab Alam

Image Source: http://www.desipaintings.com/images/Chamba-miniature-painting.jpg

The romantic ambience of the monsoon season in the heart of Himalayan Mountains was once loved by a princess named Champavati, daughter of Raja Sahila Varman around 920 A.D. While Raja’s daughter took fancy to the site and asked her father to build a town upon it. As the Raja agreed with his beloved daughter and the town was given its name Chamba from the princess’s name Champavati.

Ravi River

Image Source: http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/07/95/31/chamba-1.jpg

The Chamba district is in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India. Located at the altitude of 996 meters (3.268 ft) above mean sea level, situated beside the bank of Ravi river and has the population of 20,312 people.

While Chamba is noted for its miniature Pahari Paintings  where Basohli style of paintings took roots with Nikku, the artist of Basohli migrating from Guler to Chamba in the 18th century. However Basohli paintings are considered the first school of Pahari paintings and during the reign of Raja Udai Singh and Raja Jai Singh, patronizing of this art form was conducted. In its continuation Raja Charhat Singh developed this folk art at another huge scale which had a long lasting effect on the local artists.

Image Source:                                http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RcZPg5ZI/AAAAAAAAAl0/TBHMXxSAP2M/s1600/PACF016.JPG                                  http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RAAio8wI/AAAAAAAAAlk/FBURg_0DCSE/s1600/PACF019.JPG                                        http://www.indiamike.com/files/images/17/95/31/chamba-2.jpg                             http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_sFCue8XC5cI/TP4RQtZZemI/AAAAAAAAAls/GbcQAMRgABQ/s1600/PACF008.JPG

Chamba paintings bear a resemblance to Mughal style of paintings including strong influences of Deccan and Gujarat style of paintings. Chamba paintings being very realistic and revealing social documents of history of those times also inspire from the natural surroundings and combine in the depictions of Hindu Mythology particularly the legends of Radha Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Rama Darbar, Yashoda and Krishna, Gopis Love scenes, deer, birds and women.

Art has two different aspects of presentations, traditional and innovative. The art of Chamba, presented via Pahari painting school is basically traditional. The composition of this art is based on the old form. The main reason for this is the arcade for traditional style paintings. As very few artists have strength and courage to create their own idioms and independent styles that are really different from old forms. Many artists create copies from other paintings in a general manner, however they may enlarge and change the figures but the set form has a very hard grip on their psyche.

The major reason for the extinction of this art form is that it failed to evolve itself with the changing time and adapt itself into the contemporary world. There has been a visible stagnation in Chamba painting in creative demeanour when compared to the work of other artists with vibrant innovations we find in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and other cities in the world of contemporary artists.

Tradition needs to be preserved but the same preservation would cause the loss of any other substantial tradition is not appreciated. Therefore similar is the case with Chamba Painting. Chamba is a town with rich cultural tradition with many national award winners but altogether the town lacks the “art-world” coordination. The basic synchronization between the artists and politics either narrow or wide, demand of the market and changing perspective due to modernisation lacks in Chamba which somehow is responsible for the crumbling position of this wonderful art form. Also this has also prevented the artists of Chamba from a pure and delightful experience of interaction and sharing.

However the tangible connection to this intangible heritage survives with the preservation of many traditional paintings being showcased in many museums at Chamba, Shimla and Dharamshala and these museums also hold the distinguished work of artists like Lehru, Durga and Miyan Jara Singh.

Also with proper attention to this art form and by covering missing coordination of the art and changing world and fixing any other remaining loopholes we may preserve this art form from dying forever.

Its important for us to uphold what our ancestors have left us behind. Be it the beautiful stories, the massive mahals or the eye-catching art like the Chamba Painting. Our roots lie in them and binding our roots with such tempting traditions defines who we are.     


Author: Priyanka Nair

Image Sources:                                                                                           http://organiser.org/archives/historic/dynamic_includes/images/2004-06-27/Durga-copy.jpg    http://organiser.org/archives/historic/dynamic_includes/images/2004-06-27/shiva-copy.jpg      http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140326/images/26oriOSAKOTHI_200748.jpg                            http://www.telegraphindia.com/1140328/images/28oriOSAKOTHI2_185451.jpg 

The elegance and sublimity of murals of Ajanta, Ellora (Kailashnath temple) and Bagh have left an indelible impression on the world of art and art forms. Depiction of various religious elements, customs and traditions through mural paintings has been an integral part of Indian culture from antiquity. Osakothi is also such an awe-inspiring form of folk mural painting, which has been practiced in the southern parts of Orissa, especially Ganjam district from time immemorial.

The term Osakothi has been derived from two words, Osa and kothi. ‘Osa’ means penance and ‘kothi’ means sacred space. Hence, Osakothi represents the site (shrine or community house) where Osa rituals take place. In a restricted sense, the term Osakothi can also denote the square or rectangular diagrams made, to perform Osa rituals. These rituals generally start in the month of September or October (Ashwin Shuklaastami) but of late most of the main rituals generally coincide with Durga pooja. Usually, the ceremonies and festivities come to a close by Dussehra but may be extended till Ashwin Purnima.

Osakothi painting is done by men; however, women are the key players who celebrate it by fasting and praying to the deities, for the welfare of their husbands and family members. Osa is one of the ways to please the deities and fulfil one’s wishes related to good fortune and wealth. A section of scholars believe that Osakothi is apuranic (as it is not mentioned in the Puranas or Upanishads), but there are many myths and legends widely prevalent among the people in southern Orissa. The most common story revolves around a beautiful woman Shriya who was able to revive her seven sons by worshipping the goddess ‘Mangla’.

The shrine (gramadevati) where Osakothi is conducted is always a temporary set-up where the goddess resides throughout the year and it is depicted in the form of a pot or ‘ghata’. The most important requirement to carry out this art is the Osakothi wall, on which paintings are made. The wall paintings include the images of gods and goddesses, mythological characters from Ramayana and Mahabharata, poetry, scenes of festivals etc. Mostly artists paint directly on the walls but this can also be done on paper or cloth and can be put up on the wall. Generally, these paintings illustrate traditional and mythical characters but nowadays it also depicts the contemporary aspects like village life and culture, war, symbols, poetry, dance forms etc. Artists generally use bright organic colours made from leaves, flowers and soil, but nowadays there is a general move towards synthetic colours.

This folk ritual painting has survived due to the unwavering grit and determination of the artists who have imbued life into this art form. Chitrakars who mainly practice this art belong to various communities like poor Brahmins, Malis, Bauris and other low-income groups. Many chitrakars who are experts in this art live in Digapahandi, Ganjam district. Artists like Arun Kumar Sahu, Raghunath Moharana and Sanyasi Nahak from Ganjam are striving hard to revive this folk art. Osakothi gives us a glimpse of our vast and varied culture, and it is imperative to protect and preserve it.