Friday, July 8, 2011

What exactly is Mohiniyattam?

What exactly is Mohiniyattam?
Though some are of the view that it was originated as a result of
Dasiyattam prevailed in Kerala, as detailed in the manipravala
literatures of 13-15th centaury, namely
Unniyachicharitham,Unnichiruthevicharitha, Unniyaticharitham,
Sivavilasam and Chandrotsavam. But I strongly oppose this view. It is
hard to believe that Dasiyattam prevailed in Kerala. There is no
geographical or other valid proof for it other than these literatures
to substantiate this view.
The only temples observed Dasiyattam in Kerala at that time were
Suchindram and Padmanabha swami temple in Trivandram. But the historic
records prove that Devadasis were brought to Padmanabha swami temple
from Suchindram during festivals. If Devadasis were available here why
did we invited them from Suchindram?
The conclusion I reached through my personal research is that, having
impressed by the Dasiyattam of Tamilnadu, it was Karthika Thirunal
Balarama Varma, the nephew of Marthanda Varma and the then Maharaja of
Travancore, who appointed Karuthedathu Chomathiri to make an art-form
somewhat similar to it. Mohiniyattam was greatly patronized by
Swathithirunal in the first half of 19th centaury. Tanjore quartets who
adorned Swathi’s court contributed considerably to this art-form.
By the close of 19th centaury, after the demise of Swathi, as there was
no one to patronize it, Mohiniyattam was taken to the Feudal land lords
and struggled for its survival, ultimately resulted in the
deterioration of its glory, charm and moral values. In 1930, by
establishing Kalamandalam, Mukunda Raja and Vallathol paved way for its

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