As the oldest language and one of the six ‘original’ languages (the other five being Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, Hebrew and Chinese), Tamil is rich in Literature with a natural extension to Performing Arts.
From Carnatic Music to Bharata Natyam and an extensive variety of religious and folk dances, the contributions of Tamil Nadu are immeasurable, transcending time and modernity.
Tamil-speaking people from Tamil Nadu and other countries take pride in learning and presenting various forms of Performing Arts, apart from evincing interest in the ocean of Literature.
Muthtamil Sangam presented four items, the first of which was ‘Oyilattam,’ which is featured elsewhere in this Special Feature.
Kannagi, the Righteous
‘Kannagi’ was the first item under the Muthtamil Sangam segment, featuring Ambika Krishnamoorthy an upcoming Bharata Natyam dancer in the title role and Ilango Krishnamoorthy, her father and popular entrepreneur as the erring Pandyan King Nendunchezhian.
‘Kannagi,’ the woman in rage who sent an erring king to his Maker and set a city in flames to prove the innocence of her husband is the fiery character in ‘Silappatikaram,’ one of the five great epics of Tamil literature.
The epic, which literally means ‘The Tale of an Anklet’ extolled the Rule of Law and supremacy of jurisprudence in Tamil Nadu about 1800 years ago.
Kannagi, a righteous woman, questions the decision of the Pandiyan King in executing her husband Kovalan on unproven charge of theft. Later, her fury burns the City of Madurai. The episode, incorporated by author Ilango Adigal, was to prove that ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,’ some 1200 years before the actual phrase was written by William Congreve.
Nikhila Sethu, Anjali Biju, Laksika Sivanesan and Vithusika Sivanesan presented three different folk dance styles.
One of these was Kavadi Aattam, which is a ritual- a ceremonial sacrifice and offering practised by devotees during the worship of Lord Murugan, the Tamil God of War.
It is a central part of the Festival of Thaipusam and emphasises debt bondage.
The Kavadi itself is a physical burden, the bearing of which is used by the devotee to implore Murugan for assistance, usually on behalf of a loved one who is in need of healing, or as a means of balancing a spiritual debt. Devotees process and dance along a pilgrimage route while bearing these burdens.
Karakattam for Mariamman
The other item was Karakattam, which is happily being revived in Tamil Nadu and actively practised in Auckland. This ancient folk dance was performed in praise of Rain Goddess Mariamman.
According to Tamil Literature, this type of dance is a mixture of multiple forms of Tamil dance forms including Bharata Natyam.
I hope that we would be able to present various other forms of ancient folk dances of Tamil Nadu to our audiences in New Zealand at the Second Annual Indian Newslink Festivals of South India next year.
This should include Kuravanchi, a dance drama, Therukoothu (an older version of the Broadway and Folk Opera).
Sadasivam Kutty is President, Muthamil Sangam, one of the Organisers of the First Annual Indian Newslink Festivals of South India, representing Tamil Nadu.
- Pandyan King Nendunchezhian (Ilango Krishnamoorthy) pleads with a furious Kannagi (Ambika)
- Kavadi Attam and Karakattam at the Festival
(Pictures by Creative Eye Fotographics)