Kutiyattam Balivadham is an eventful part of the epic Ramayana. Lord
Surya’s (Sun God) charioteer Aruna who assumes the form of a woman,
begets a child from Lord Indra (Lord of Heaven) called Bali, and one
from Lord Surya (Sun God) called Sugriva. Bali who becomes the King of
Kishkinta has a misunderstanding with Sugriva leading to sibling
rivalry. Ruma, Sugriva’s wife is forced to become Bali’s consort.
Sugriva, fearing Bali, takes refuge atop the Rissyamukha Mountains,
where Bali cannot enter owing to a curse from the Sage Mathanga. Sugriva
along with trusted ministers like Hanuman meet Sri Rama, the
incarnation of Lord Vishnu and offer their help to kill the demon king
Ravana and to rescue Sita, the beloved wife of Rama. In return for
Sugriva’s favour, Rama helps Sugriva confront Bali in a battle and Bali
is killed by Rama’s arrow.
Kutiyattam is an artistic tradition of Kerala that goes beyond 2000
years. It is the only ancient form of Sanskrit theatre in the world
which has kept alive its vibrant tradition till date. A typical
Kutiyattam performance would take several days, even up to 40 to
complete. The present form of Kutiyattam is ascribed to Kulasekhara
Varma Cheraman Perumal, a king belonging to the ancient times of Kerala.
In the beginning, Kutiyattam performances were strictly confined to
Hindu temples and were performed by the members of the Chakiyar
community supported by the Nambiar community and their women folk, the
Nangiyars. This Sanskrit theatre owes its name to the combined
performance of Chakiyars and Nangiyars. The only musical accompaniment
used earlier was Mizhavu, a percussion instrument played by Nambiars. Of
late, Edakka, Sankhu and Kuzhithalam are also being used, besides
Mizhavu. Kutiyattam is usually performed in a Koothambalam, which is a
specially designed theatre attached to major temples. Koothambalams are
built according to principles laid down in Vaasthusaasthram Silparatna,
the text on traditional architecture.
Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri enacts the role of Bali in Balivadham.
Margi Sathi dons the role of Tara in Balivadham.
Margi Sajeev Narayana Chakiyar plays the role of Sugriva in Balivadham.
The role of Hanuman is portrayed by Margi Rama Chakiyar.
Kalamandalam Raveendran performs the role of Lord Rama.
The role of Lord Lakshmana is portrayed by Kalamandalam Kanaka Kumar.