Empowering Women in Folk Art with Kattaikkuttu Revival in Kanchipuram


April 18, 2024

Empowering Women in Folk Art with Kattaikkuttu Revival in Kanchipuram

´╗┐Kattaikkuttu Sangam

In the various landscapes of Tamil Nadu\'s cultural legacy, the historic artwork form of Kattaikkuttu exemplifies the tenacity and sturdiness of conventional performances. This rural dance theatre, with its roots deep in Kanchipuram soil, has long been managed by adult males. However, a great transition is taking place, led by a handful of extraordinary ladies, embracing this artwork shape and reinventing its tale.

Collaboration and Expanding Horizons

The Kattaikkuttu Sangam\'s efforts have no longer been disregarded, and they have labored with well-known musicians to achieve their objective. Carnatic singer TM Krishna collaborated with Rajagopal on \'Carnatic-Kattaikkuttu\' performances at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Festival in Chennai and the Kattaikkuttu Sangam\'s annual Performing Arts Festival in Kanchipuram.

The Sangam\'s latest performance is the drama \'Parvati\' (The Gaze), which is performed in a hybrid manner that consists of Kattaikkuttu with current acting.

Breaking Barriers and Empowering Women

Kattaikkuttu Sangam is the world\'s first and best enterprise that trains ladies in the artwork form. Girls endure several demanding situations, especially as they mature. Many people discover it inappropriate to perform in front of a target market that consists of male participants. 

Not simply girls, however, mothers and fathers of younger men are involved that they\'ll be unable to discover mates for their kids due to the stigma associated with the theatre form and the fact that it pays an uncertain and lots lower salary than a government role. Kattaikkuttu is about frame movement, language, discourse, and the technique of translating significant textual content into music. That is the middle of our lifestyle. We desired to illustrate that this could be executed with the aid of female artists, using all varieties of tales and shows.

Bharathi Thamizhvanan has been training and performing Kattaikkuttu for the remaining 12 years. When we visit different villages for performances, do the men there talk to us or show women? We inform them that this is both our employment and our history and that just as they get a paycheck using running, we earn ours via acting, who is well-known in her town for in no way taking a break from performing, except for per week off for her wedding ceremony.

Bharathi became reared by her grandma and does not come from a performing household. She did, but, grow up staring at generations of Kattaikkuttu performers in her hamlet of Kvelure near Ranipet.

Impact Created

It is unusual for women to direct solo shows of Kattaikkuttu, an antique dance theatre famous in Tamil Nadu. Young girls and women have formerly been down upon for playing koothu, which loosely translates the folk theatre in Tamil. Traditionally, everyone engaged in Kattaikkuttu, including actors, singers, dancers, and musicians, has been male. However, Bharathi A and her four-girl Kattaikkuttu artists are remodeling the way of life.


The artists, all married and younger moms, are the only female performers at Kattaikkuttu Sangam. The 33-year-antique organization in rural Kanchipuram is dedicated to preserving the wealthy arts records alive and prospering the various, more youthful generations, even though minimal oral transfer of records. Kattaikkuttu Sangam was founded in 1990 as a non-income society of professional theatre artists via actor, director, and author Perungattur P Rajagopal, theatre scholar Hanne M de Bruin, and 15 actors and musicians. 

Kattaikkuttu is a rural, open-air ensemble theatre fashion cited for its lavish make-up and vivid costumes; however, what is regularly ignored is the glad soundtrack of music, lyrics, conversation, appearing, and bodily demanding dances that pull the manufacturing collectively, consistent with de Bruin. Given Kattaikkuttu\'s association with oppressed castes and the inherent stigma in opposition to girls inside the area, the business enterprise was shaped to carry performers collectively and create a forum for them to talk and cooperate.

Reclaiming the Tradition

Rajagopal, who hails from a family of Kattaikkuttu performers, and de Bruin agree that community unity is vital to preserving the art shape. Donations and nearby performances provide financing for schooling and leisure. 

From 2002 until 2020, the organization\'s important initiative, the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, provided rural children with Kattaikkuttu schooling, full-fledged training, and complete care. Despite difficulties, including the Gurukulam\'s closure at some point during the pandemic, the association has held an annual competition in Kanchipuram, drawing artists and lovers from all over the kingdom and the globe.

Thamizhvanan\'s older sister, Thilagavathi Palani, who studied Kattaikkuttu on the Sangam and Bharatanatyam below renowned artist Sangeeta Isvaran, now operates her own Kattaikkuttu faculty, Sri Krishna Kattaikkuttu Kuzhu. According to the 33-year-antique, all the performers have graduated. 


There are several misconceptions that we are dispelling. The first is that Kattauikkuttu performers are ignorant and unattractive, while the second is that ladies from \'respectable\' houses no longer interact with this practice. We decided to have a combined-gender group that covered males, girls, and transgender humans. The college is now teaching sixty-five youngsters in traditional traditions.

Palani, whose father is a seasoned performer, o useuses in India and remote places to explore the convergence of the art shape and social motion on subjects that include toddler marriage, training, sexual assault, and menstrual health. 

We try to spotlight everything that distinguishes this art shape—the hours of make-up, the top-notch costumes, and the energy and flair required to convert complicated themes into nightlong, seven to 8-hour performances. Instead of searching at it from the beginning, this is the substance of Kattaikkuttu that we strive to discuss while observing and teaching. This broadens the roles and opportunities for enthusiasts of all gender identities as they study what they want to perform as artists.

Carnatic singer TM Krishna collaborated with Rajagopal some years in the past for \'Carnatic-Kattaikkuttu\' performances at the Urur Olcott Kuppam Festival in Chennai and the Kattaikkuttu Sangam\'s annual Performing Arts Festival in Kanchipuram. Kattaikkuttu Sangam\'s most recent manufacturing is the play \'Parvati\' (The Gaze), which is supplied in a hybrid manner that combines Kattaikkuttu with contemporary acting. We focused on the dramaturgy and the tune. It\'s an interracial love story set within the nineteenth century towards the backdrop of South India\'s Great Madras Famine of 1877-1878.



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