Thitambu Nritham – A Temple art form from North Kerala

via Rajan Kodoth published on January 11, 2009




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thi1.JPG“Thitambu Nritham” is the ritual
art form in North Kerala more than 700 years old.
It is mainly performed by Namboothiris of this part of Kerala. Late Vethiramana
Sreedharan Namboodiri is known to be the “Father of Thitambu
Nritham”. Luckily this ritual art form has not died out with his
withdrawal from the stage. Experts in this field like Brahmasree Puthumana
Govindan Namboothiri are carrying on the great tradition in the north.


dancer, in the traditional style after performing the usual rituals, comes out
of the sanctorum, and standing under the flag, holds aloft the replica weighing
about 10 kg-30 kg on his head and starts thi2.JPGthe divine dance. One namboodiri to
bear the thitambu, seven players on percussion instruments, two persons to
carry lamps, in all ten persons are needed to present this. The dance begins
with “Kotti Urayikkal” (drumming to make the dancer possessed).As the
dancer comes out carrying the replica of the idol on his head, the
“Maaraar” makes the characteristic drumming when rituals are performed.
The word “Thitambu” suggests the direct manifestation of the deity.
This is placed over a decorated turban known as Ushnipeetam.  Idols being carried on top of elephants during
festivals as also replicas beings held on shoulders while dancing to the rhythm
of percussion instruments are a common sight in South and Central
Kerala. But, dancing with the replicas on the heads, is a unique
feature in the North. The origin of Thitambu Nritham cannot be easily traced.
Replicas called ‘chattam’ are made of bamboo or wood with in which a beautiful
frame with intricate designs is created..


Foot work is most important in this dance and
this is executed to the rhythm of the drums. Each circumlocution is regulated
by a different Thaalam (Thakilati, Atantha, Chempata and Panchari). Thitambu
Nritham has undergone some changes in accordance with the trend of the times.
Though the basic ones (Thaalavattom) remains the same,there are some changes
made in drumming (thaalam). Innovation also adds to the novelty and variety of
Thitambu nritham.


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