Tholpavakkoothu artistes find better days coming

With COVID norms relaxed, temples will hold festivals where the art form hopes to find a space

Dozens of artistes working in the traditional Tholpavakkoothu temple art form heaved a sigh of relief with many temples in Palakkad and neighbouring districts coming forward to conduct their annual festival after 10 months of COVID-19 restrictions.

Tholpavakkoothu will be one of the key attractions during the festival, especially in Devi or Kali temples. Most temples in Malabar conduct festivals between January and May.

Dozens of artistes make a living by performing Tholpavakkoothu or traditional puppetry by using figures made of leather in 85-odd Devi temples. After going through testing times during the COVID-19 lockdown, the artistes are excited about performing nearly after a year.

“We always used to say there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Many of our artistes did not have any means of livelihood during the lockdown period. They had lost almost the entire festival season last year. This year, with the government having relaxed the norms and with temples coming forward to conduct festival, we are hopeful of not only reviving a dying art, but also making a living with that,” said Rajeev Pulavar, who has been promoting Tholpavakkoothu in Malabar.

Bhagavathi temples especially in Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram conduct Tholpavakkoothu in order to appease Goddess Devi. Legend has it that Kali missed the battle between Sri Rama and Ravana as she was busy battling a giant called Darikan. Tholpavakkoothu tells the story of Ramayana, especially Rama-Ravana battle, in order to appease Devi.

The first temple festival of the season is being held at Kulangara Devi Temple at Edappal in Malappuram district. “It will be followed by several other temples in Malabar. But all performances will be in accordance with COVID-19 protocol,” said Mr. Pulavar.

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