In Kerala, there are more than 300 temple art forms that are vanishing from the temples itself. Whereas, those art forms were staged at one time. These artists were once messengers of Providence. And today they are performing various jobs to support life. Poothamkali is one of such temple art forms that is gradually disappearing from Kerala.
Poothamkali is a folk art performed in the Bhagavathy temples of Malappuram, from (January-February) to (April-May). Members of the Mannan community in Malappuram district, Kerala, perform this art form. Pootham is the character who accompanied Durga in her fight with Darika asura. There are three performers and they undergo a week of formality before the performance. The dancers undergo severe physical training. They come to play in all the houses in the area from eight or ten days.
Bright colored masks made of Alstonia Scholaris trees and Coral are used in this art form. The performance last for 15 minutes, usually during the night, and Thudi gives rhythm to the dance. They begin to dance, slowly at first. Later as the speed rises the dance achieves a very fast movement.
Thudi is the only instrument used. The dancers wear a right fitting band and tie foot-trinket with small bells on their ankles.
The Sangeet Natak Akademi is bringing out the task of preservation and improvement of the performing arts of India. Akademi gives appreciation and honors to artists. It supports in setting standards in these arts and revives the art and artists. Sangeet Natak announced an award for Poothamkali artist Kootanad V Balan in 2002.
Watch an amazing video of Poothamkali Dance here:
Photo Courtesy: https://picsart.com/babupanekad, http://textilesandfolklores.blogspot.com/2013/11/poothamkali.html