|. Koothambalam - Kerala Kalamandalam, ThrissuFlickr|
|small Koothambalam Peruvanam Temple, ThrissurFindMessages.com|
Koothambalam is a creative, blessed space or theater preferably on the temple premises exclusively for staging Koothu, Nangiar koothu and Koodiyattam, the ancient ritualistic and traditional art forms in the state of Kerala. Built as per Nātyasāstra of Bharata Muni, the location has to be between the Prakaras of Bahyahara and Maryada within the temple. In Kerala around 14 prominent temples have Koothambalam which gained popularity only in the 16th century and a few reasons are : a. Availability large amount of money to the rulers through mercantile trades with foreign countries. b. Knowledge of scriptures on Natya Sastra by the local Brahmins who were patronized by the rulers, and c. Above all excellent grasp of carpentry by the skilled local carpenters who had good interaction with foreign carpenters. These social changes gave impetus to the construction of a closed space for performing arts close to the divinity - an exclusive platform to patronize such art forms that formed the socio-cultural fabric of Kerala.
That the "concept of performing for the God" gets prominence when performances are held in the temple theater _Koothambalam is quite acceptable. This is true in the case debut performers who dedicate their first ever performance to the presiding God.
With reference to my earliest post on 'Koothambalam': https://navrangindia. blogspot.com/2015/07/eye-catching-koothambalam-temple.html, I would like to add the following facts about Natayagraha.
01. The Koothambalam is sanctified with Tantrik rites as there is a spiritual link with the temple and the dancing space. etc.
02. Since Lord Shiva is a cosmic dancer (Nataraja) and is the Lord of dances, at Koothambalam dances are performed in the Shaivite tradition, irrespective of the presiding deity.
03. Yet another aspect is this space is conceptualized as Nandikeswara, the vehicle of Lord Shiva.
04. The stage within the hall is the most important part of the Natyagraha and is strongly believed to be as sacred as the temple sanctum or Sri Kovil.
05. The stage is normally built facing the deity and artists on the stage perform facing the deity.
06. Regardless of which direction the main deity in the temple is facing west or east, the Koothambalam has to be to the right side of it.
07. Three important parts of Koothambalam are the roof, the super structure and adishana on which these rest. Thy are built as per guide lines.
08. An interesting feature is there is a roof within the main roof of the auditorium.
|Irinjalakuda: Koothanbalam. stage and ceiling.Tthe hindu com|
|Main stage and hall, KoothambalamNTD India|
|Koothambal, interior. .archiestudio.in|
|carved ceiling for acoustics Koothambalam Images and Imprints|
11. As per Bharata's guide lines, Kothambalam gives the feeling of a mountain cave like structure (shailaguhakar); Trellis frames allow gentle breeze without disturbing the on-going performance and the low protruding roof cuts down Sun's glaze.
|Theater seating arrangement. .archiestudio.in|
13. As mentioned in Bharata's Nataya Sastra, the drummers and other accompanists perform facing the East on the stage, even in the case of main deity facing west.
14. Unlike Bharata's treatise on Natya, Kothambalam has three rows of pillars - outer , middle and inner one.
15. Regarding shape of the dancing space, only square and rectangular shaped Koothambalams are common.
16. The space for the audience is close to the stage and it helps the audience to enjoy the performance at close quarters. In a way, it improves the visual treat for the audience.
17. While the performences are going on a Villaku - oil lamp with three wicks has to be kept going without interruption.
18. The Koothambalam and other ancient temples in Kerala began to use copper plates on their roofs after the Portuguese (15th century) introduced the technique in the region. It gives extra protection to the slante and tiled roof of the Koothambalam against the harsh SW monsoon that brings in lots of rain here.
19. Because Shaivite tradition is followed, invocation of Lord Shiva is done by using tantrik rites.
20. As for temple architecture, the principles are taken from the ancient texts, but the construction materials keep changing from time to time.