Chakyar Koothu is one of the performing art form Kerala. It is a Solo Performance by the Chakyar. The Chakyar narrates Stories from the Hindu Epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and other stories from the Hindu Puranas.
Koothu – the performing art
Koothu was originally performed in the Koothambalam inside temples. The Chakyar and Ambalavasi Nambiar communities used to perform Koothu. It is one form of dance where facial expressions are important in narrating the stories.
The solo performer uses headgear and black mustache. Sandalwood paste or Bhasma (ash) will be smeared over the body. It is assumed that Anantha the thousand headed serpent is narrating the story and hence the headgear of the performer resembles the hood of the snake.
Champu Kavya consists of Gadya (prose) and Padya (shloka) style and the narration in Chakyar Koothu is based on the Champu Prabandha style. The Chakyar begins the show with a prayer to the deity of the temple. He then narrates a Sanskrit shloka and explains the same in Malayalam.
Humor and Sarcasm are the main attraction of his narration. The story will be linked to the current events to make it more enjoyable. It is considered as impolite to question Chakyar and intervene in his show. He can even stop the performance without any reasoning further if someone tries to intervene him during his show.
There are two musical instruments that accompany the Chakyar Koothu. They are Mizhavu and Ilathalam. Mizhavu is a big copper drum which is considered as sacred. Ilathalam is a metallic instrument resembling miniature form of cymbals.
Padmasri Mani Madhava Chakyar initiated bringing the Koothu outside the temple. The late Ammannur Madhava Chakyar and Painkulam Raman Chakyar were two other important artists to mention a few. Mani Damodara Chakyar is the nephew of Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar. There are many other famous artists who are doing exceptionally well in Chakyar Koothu.