The annual Keli Festival, which celebrates art forms from around the country with a particular focus on Kerala, will begin with the inauguration at the Y B Chavan Centre on Thursday evening.
This annual celebration of India’s rich artistic and cultural traditions will be celebrating 25 years in 2017.
Keeping in mind this important anniversary, the festival, which has this year been titled ‘Saga of a Village — An Arts Story’, has been designed to celebrate the cultural roots of the Peruvanam village, which is located in Kerala’s Thrissur district.
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It is home to unique historical art forms, such as the ensemble percussion performance called ‘Melam’ which goes back over 1,400 years, and Kutiyattam — the 1,800-year-old Sanskrit theatre tradition.
Following the inauguration, there will be a three-day Keli classical women’s theatre festival, which forms the first phase of the whole celebration that will go on till January 2017.
It will focus on the tradition of Nangiar Koothu, an off-shoot of Kutiyattam, which was traditionally performed by women of the Ambalavasi Nambiar community and which in a cultural scene dominated by men, was the sole domain of female artistes for much of its 1,200-year history.
This phase will be presented by celebrated performer Usha Nangiar, an iconoclast in the straitlaced world of traditional cultural forms who has attempted to infuse a feminist perspective into the ritual art form of Nangiar Koothu.
She broke convention to enact the stories of female characters such as Ahalya, Mandodari and Draupadi.
The next phase of the festival’s 25th anniversary celebrations will begin on December 17 at the Exhibition Centre in Vashi, with a performance by musical composer Vidyadharan Master, followed by the third phase at Prithvi festival — a theatre festival by Vallachira village’s Remembrance Group from January 5 to 7 and the Rhythm festival at the Y B Chavan Centre and Horniman Circle Garden from January 19 to 22.