Master Percussionists at work or play!

I had been to Palakkad for a brief holiday last week. My visit coincided with the famous Puthur Thalapoli Vela. This is an annual temple festival that the organizers take great pride in. They line up 13 famous elephants from all over the place and the place is generally all decked up!

There was a pandi melam that extended for close to 3 hours and entertained to the core! The troupe was led by Shri Peruvanam Kuttan Marar, a renowned maestro at chenda vadyam. Needless to say, the 3 hours passed quite quickly. The melam was captivating and the master build up the tempo painstakingly over 2 hours to provide tremendous joy to the hundreds that had gathered. The sound of the chenda (south Indian drum), kuzhal (a form of clarinet) and cymbals resonated in my ears for quite a while. 

This was followed by a sumptuous dinner in the form of  3 hours of Triple Thayambaka. Thayambaka was performed by Shri Mattanur Shankarankutty and his sons. Needless to say, they entertained for 3 hours, again building up the tempo slowly minute by minute till the melam reached its crescendo. Thayambaka is a kind of friendly fight (competition) between the performers. At the end, the winner is always “Art”.

This was six hours of bliss for me. This felt like a feast that the two masters had filled you up to the brim!

How I miss all the other poorams of Palakkad!


 As a footnote, Shri Mattanur Shankarankutty was recently awarded the Padmashree award and he was honored by the committee before the performance.


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