Kurattiyattam, as a word, is derived from "Kuratti Enactment". This mainly comes from Kuratti. This is the womenfolk of the Kuravas, an aboriginal Dravidian tribe. The Kuravas inhabit the hill regions of interior Kerala
and contiguous Tamil Nadu
. However, the form is presented not by them but mostly the Nayar community. Kuratti, Kuravan i.e. a tribal man, and Muttiyamma i.e. grandmother are the main characters. Men appear in the roles of women. Kurattiyattam takes place in the open courtyard of temples, in front of a lit traditional oil lamp.
The instrumentalists and vocalists who support the actors sit at the rear with mridangam
, drums and kaimani i.e. small cymbals. They commence by singing in praise of the god Ganesha
and Goddess Saraswati
, followed by the entrance of two Kurattis who assume the characters of the spouses of Lord Vishnu
and Lord Shiva
. They engage in a wordy duel, dramatized through singing and dancing. In their quarrel they find fault with each other`s husbands. In the end a third Kuratti impersonating Saraswati comes to the rescue and strikes a compromise. Then the Kuravan exhibits many acrobatic feats including rope dancing to musical accompaniment. Finally his old mother dances, which provides a lot of fun to the audience.
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