New England Malayalee Association’s blog

November 18, 2008

Art of Koodiyattam makeup

The Koodiyattom performance at Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, sponsored by NEMA and PEM was  a huge success and the performance of Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri and accompanying artists captivated the audience.  If you think the 2000 year old Koodiyattom performance is complicated, take a look at what happened behind the scenes – the process of getting ready for the Koodiayattom performance was an art by itself.  The makeup including Chutti took more than 4 hours. Here’s a pictorial presenting the makeup process.


Chutti was done by Kalamandalam Sukumaran who also played “idakka”.








KR Narayana Chakyar was the team lead and translator.









Kalamandalam Ammannoor Ravikumar Chakyar helped with the makeup. He also was the “mizhavu” player.


Help was also provided by Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri’s wife Indira, who is a Sanskrit teacher .


It is talent, experience, dedication, hard work, thorough knowledge of the science of  “Natyakrama” and the brilliant design which enthralls the audience bringing the great experience.

Please click here to browse through the full gallery of Koodiyattom performance pictures.

Photo and description courtesy Anand Puravangara.

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November 12, 2008

Koodiyattam – some interesting facts

Filed under: Events — nemausa @ 4:40 pm


NEMA along with Peabody Essex Museum is presenting the ancient art form of Koodiyattom on Nov 14th. Please click here for details. Here’s some interesting factoids about this ancient art form.

  • Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2000 years old.
  • It is officially recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • Koodiyattam [kutiyattam], meaning ‘combined acting’ signifies Sanskrit drama presented in the traditional style in temple theatres of Kerala and is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre.
  • Kutiyattam is an amalgam of the classical Sanskrit theater of ancient India and the regional theatre of Kerala.
  • The main musical instruments used in Koodiyattam are Mizhavu, Kuzhitalam, Etakka, Kurumkuzhal and Sankhu. Mizhavu, the most prominent of these, is a percussion instrument.
  • Traditionally, Koodiyattam has been performed by Chakyars (a subcaste of Kerala Hindus) and by Nangyaramma . The name Koodiyattam (meaning “playing together”) suggests a combined performance of Chakyar and Nangyar.
  • In 1962, under the leadership of Dr. V. Raghavan, noted art and Sanskrit scholar; Sanskrit Ranga of Madras, invited Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar to perform Kutiyattam in Chennai. Thus for the first time in the history Kutiyattam was performed outside Kerala.
  • Complicated gesture language, chanting, exaggerated expressions of the face and eyes, together with elaborate headdresses and makeup constitute a Kutiyattam play.
  • The art is kept alive through the efforts of Vaddakkumnathan Temple in Trichur and the Irinjalaganda Koodalmanikyam Temple, both of which schedule at least one annual performance.
  • Kutiyattam’s legacy to world theater is in architectural terms: permanent theater structures. These are known in Kerala as kuthampalam.

source courtesy: wikipedia,

image courtesy: wikipedia

October 27, 2008

Movies are back

Movies are best enjoyed in the  big screen in the darkened environs of a movie theater. After a brief interval, the movies are back in Boston area.  On November 1st, the movie which revived actor Jayaram’s career, Veruthe Oru bharya, will be screened Nov 1st 4pm at Studio Cinema Belmont,  376 Trapelo RD,  Belmont, MA 02475 .  This movie became a huge success in Kerala, especially among family audiences. Veruthe Oru bharya is brought to New England region by NEMA and Kerala Association of New England (KANE).  So we can say goodbye to those grainy, downloaded movies seen on computer screens and experience the magic of movie on large screen. Moreover, Nov 1 is Kerala Piravi Day, a good reason for Malayalees to get together and network.

October 8, 2008

Team NEMA 2008-09

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from – T.S.Eliot

Here’s the new NEMA Team:

  • President – Anand Puravangara
  • Vice President – Manish Kurup
  • General Secretary – Jalina Shalabh
  • Treasurer – Anoop Ninan
  • Arts club Secretary – Udayarani Umesan

Anand and his team is confident about continuing the good work that NEMA was doing as the
premier Malayalee organization in the region and they would emphasize on bringing quality programs and encourage talents in the New England Region.

October 5, 2008

Priorities for the Next American President

It’s election time and appropriately Nikita Shalabh has written an essay about most important priorities of the new President.  Nikita is a 5th grade student at Sherwood Middle School, Shrewbury.

The three major issues that the next president should address in the first term of office is Economy, War and Health Insurance.

Starting with economy including high gas rates, high taxes and less jobs we don’t have a stable community. I think the next president should lower taxes and lower gas rates too. Also he should think of more jobs so that we will have a better community through out the whole country. Lots of people don’t have jobs so we should think about them first. How will you help them? By helping them get jobs so they have enough money to eat one days worth of food and pay for gas. So I think the next president should take care of that.

Another major issue is Health Insurance. About 47 million people don’t have Health Insurance.
Even if they have it they aren’t covered fully. Due to these reasons people are reluctant to even go to the hospital when they have major medical problems. Reducing the cost of health insurance is one of the things that the next president should address appropriately.

We also have a war going on. So many soldiers are dying when they could be at home with their family. With all this we barely have enough money to help our economy. This war is so costly, one bomb dropped costs so much money no wonder why our economy is going down. It is important to secure our borders more effectively so that illegal immigrants and terrorists can’t sneak in.

These are some major issues we have in our country. If we take care of these issues we will be able to live life peacefully. After all life is so short. As they say “ Live and let others live.”

September 24, 2008

The Rescue?

The Rescue is a short story written by Mahesh Vasudevan, a 9th grade student at Wheeler School, Lincoln. Recently Mahesh wrote the play ‘Mahabali’, which was staged during  NEMA’s Onagosham 2008. Mahesh assures us that this story is not based on real life incident but a work of fiction.

As he sat and watched his friend climb the stairs to the backyard water slide, I’m sure Rajesh was feeling excited, almost thrilled. He saw her reach the top of the stairs, laughing and waving, starting down the slide, swishing down its twelve-feet, and ending with a huge splash into the deep end of Meera Aunty’s pool. Once in the water, she treaded water easily, seeming to float without effort, waving, smiling and splashing.

All eyes were following Parvati as she continued to splash in the pool. It was obviously one of the most enjoyable things a kid could do. After a few minutes in the pool, Parvati felt neglected because nobody was present to give her attention, and she climbed out of the pool. As soon as Parvati went indoors, Rajesh sprinted towards the slide, full of excitement. He had the spirit of a much older child, although a body of a chubby 3-year old with curly black hair. His little legs were not able to keep him balanced fully as he began to climb the ladder.

Only one person was present to witness Rajesh’s feat. As Rekha, a grandmother herself, watched Rajesh, she began to feel panicked. At this time, I was babysitting Abhisek, Rajesh’s older brother and three other small boys, watching a movie. Rekha waddled as quickly as she could, 20 feet towards me. As soon as she saw me, Rekha yelled in a language I could not understand. She then began to scream and point toward Tanju and the pool, repeating “Rajesh, Rajesh, Rajesh.” As I dropped my sandwich on the counter, I began to run out through the glass sliding doors, crossed the wooden deck and the patio. Bumping into lawn furniture, reaching out anticipating the task at hand. Rajesh had managed to bravely and cleverly slip his tiny legs over the crest of the slide, readying himself for what he thought would be a fun trip into the pool, as he had seen Aishu a few minutes before. This was not only fun, but also a big kid’s activity that he was allowing himself to participate in freely. As he swiftly flung his arms into the air, his chubby body began to slide downward. I reached out awkwardly, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him from the slide, as we both tumbled into the pool below. Rajesh was screaming loudly, hoping for someone to help him. I managed to stay near the edge of the pool, afloat, reaching out handing Rajesh to the first adult I could see. Other adults soon rushed out to console Rajesh. Nobody knew the whole story. Some people thought I had put Rajesh at risk, even Parvati herself. I heard people gossiping about me. I felt badly about this, as if I really did almost kill him. Even to this day, I am still confused about what happened. Did I save Rajesh’s life, or did I almost kill him?

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