Pancha Vadyam literally means an orchestra of five instruments. It is an art form of Kerala, South India which is centred around temples and festivals. The instruments used are “Maddalam”, “Thimila”, “Idakka”, “Kobmu”, “Elathalam” – Cymbal.
Maddalam, Idakka and Thimila as we have seen already belong to the Membranophones family. Kombu is a Wind Instrument of the Aerophone family. Elathalam or Ilathalam is a metallic instrument having resemblance to Cymbals, made of bronze.
Like Chenda Melams, Pancha Vadyam is based on the Seven-Beat Thripuda Thalam. But it also played on the Chempata Thalam having Eight Beats. Pancha Vadyam is peformed during temple rituals and festivals in Kerala. Typical Pancha Vadyam performance lasts about two to three hours. It is characterised by a pyramid-like rhythmic structure with a constantly increasing tempo coupled with a proportional decrease in the number of beats in cycles.
Let us watch a mini form of Pancha Vadyam performed by the famous Peruvanam Kuttan Marar and team. The video is by the Kerala Tourism under the title “Rhythm of Kerala” showcasing and promoting art forms of Kerala.