The literal meaning of the title being concomitant
dancing, it is another temple opera performed jointly by Chakyars
A dance traditionally enacted in temples.
it is Kathakali's 2000 year old predecessor and is offered as a
votive offering to the deity.Both men and women partake in this
performance. Abhinaya is the most important element in Koodiyattom.
The texts are always in Sanskrit and the performance is a prolonged
affair. All the four types of abhinaya, viz. Angikam, Vachikam,
Sathvikam and Aharyam are fully utilized in Koodiyattom.
The plays are performed only in temple precincts
as votive offerings. Abhinaya or acting is a three -fold or even
four-fold process. Appropriate hand gestures are symbols are first
shown when the words of the verse are spoken in a typically modulated
tone. As the music is begun, the meaning of the words are translated
into a language of bodily postures, attitudes and facial expressions.
The third is a repetition of the first.
Koodiyattom is staged on the specially built
temple theatre called Koothambalam. The stage is decorated with
fruit-bearing plantains and bunches of tender coconuts and festooned
with fronds of the coconut palm. A vessel overflowing with paddy
is placed on the stage. Lighting is done with a tall oil lamp made
of brass. Within a railed enclosure on the stage is a large copper
drum called mizhavu with a high seat for the Nambiyar drummer.
A Nambiyar woman plays cymbal and occasionally
recites the verses. At times special orchestral effects are introduced.
The orchestra consists of an edakka, maddalam, a conch, pipe and
horn. There is facial make-up using colour schemes and pattern having
symbolic value, though strict standardization of types is absent.The
make-up patterns as seen in the better-known Kathakali are borrowed
In the actual performance, first the drum
is sounded and then the Nambiyar woman recites the invocatory verse,
(vandana slokam). After that a purificatory ritual of sprinkling
holy water on the stage is done by the Nambiyar. Then there is an
interlude of orchestra, after which the dance ritual ceremony called
Kriyachavittuka is performed by the Sutradhara.
The next item is the stapana of the particular
act. The main character is introduced in the next stage called Koothupurappadu
in the background of the tense dramatic sense created by the full
Nirvahana, the next part of the drama, follows.
This itself consists of three phases, the Anukrama, the Samkshepa
and the Vistara respectively. Purushartha follows in which clown
(Vidushaka), caricaturing the moods, is the hero. This is a significant
departure from tradition and a remarkable feature of Koodiyattom.
The drama proper now begins sluggishly and leisurely through the
long drawn out, detailed and elaborate abhinaya process.