Kattaikkuttu Sangam
Transforming Culture
Transforming Lives

Plays

Traditional plays

Kattaikkuttu uses scenes from the Hindu mythological story repertoire. Characters and problems presented in these stories are frequently used to reflect on local social and political conditions. The Kattiyakkaran or Clown fulfils a pivotal role in the performances. As narrator, herald and comedian he links the world of the mythical gods and heroic kings of the stories to the every-day lives of the spectators.

Selected episodes of the Mahabharata have been reworked to suit the local Tamil language and village context. They constitute the core of Kattaikkuttu's traditional repertoire and include famous plays, such as -

  • Bending of the Bow or Draupadi's Marriage (Vilvalaippu)
  • The Royal Sacrifice (Rajasuyayagam)
  • Dice and Disrobing (Pakatai Tukil)
  • Arjuna's Tapas (Arcunan Tapacu)
  • Draupadi-the-Kuratti (Kuravanchi)
  • The Slaying of Kicaka (Kicaka vatam)
  • Krishna's Embassy (Krishnan Tuutu)
  • Abhimanyu's Battle (Apimanyu Cantai)
  • Karna's Death (Karna Moksham)
  • The Battle of the Eighteenth Day (Patinettam Por)

During Mahabharata festivals there are also special dramatic and ritual events. These are acted out during the daytime in the streets of the village and often follow or precede an all-night play. On these occasions the village becomes the venue where the epic unfolds itself.

One such "off-stage" event is the performance of Arjuna's tapas. In order to obtain a divine weapon from Lord Shiva, Arjuna climbs a huge pole and stands on its peak to do penance.

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