Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kolattam Celebration

Every Year Kollattam celebration is celebrated in our village. In my childhood I participated.After morethan 3 decades  this year .  Iam very fortunate to participate in this function. I recollect  memories of my young age about this festival.. 

Kolattam is an ancient village art which is performed by groups of young girls &women , with two sticks held in each hand, beaten to make a rhythmic sound.  The stick provides the main rhythm and this dance is performed during village festivals. Kolattam is derived from the word ‘Kol’ (small stick) and ‘Attam’ (play)dance. The two sticks held in the hand of each girl/woman is struck against those of the other girls/women in rotation, producing beautiful music. The stick provides the main rhythm and music delights one and all and is performed during festivals .

Kolattam festival, , is popular in the villages of central and south Tamil Nadu. It Kolattam festival commences every year on the new moon day just after Deepavali and ends on the full moon day. On the evening of New moon day,. The young girls get together on the banks of the river,pool or lake and collect a mound of clay. This clay is then taken to the potter,

 A potter makes a little image of a cow and calf and the customary nine grains (Palligai)are made to sprout. He then colours it with natural dyes such as lime stone paint for white and charcoal powder for black. This figurine is called “Pasuvan”. This “Pasuvan” is placed at  the village Bajanai madam and worshiped.  It is for this deity that girls perform Kolattam as an invocation to the Rain God.The ladies and children sprinkled Nava Dhanyas  on five earthen  cups (Palligai) All the assembled ladies and children were offered betal leaf etc.... The children began to perform Kollattam in front of Passavan, the Idol.

 Everyday, the young girls with Kolattam sticks gather in the evening and perform Kolattam in front of each house in the Agraharam. In every stage of the dance, each girl has one stick in each of her hands and the stick in the hand of each girl is struck against those of the other girls in rotation, producing beautiful music. This dance is set to tune in different Ragas and songs. Songs about Lord Krishna are primarily sung.
கோலேன கோலே

கோலேன கோலே

 பாலா நீலா லா கோலே

பால பாவன லீல விலோசன

பால ப்ரபஞ்ச கோலே
 The dancers themselves sing the songs, which are mostly on Lord Krishna, and pray for rains and rich harvests in the coming year. Young girls pray for the prosperity of the land, pray to the rain God to shower his blessings so that the village pond is filled to the brim and farmlands give a bountiful crop.People have strong belief that God will fullfill young girls prayers.

 The significant verse is – “Swamy, give us rain; let the tanks and ponds overflow; let whatever we sow turn into gold; let us see many husks of grain!
மழை ரொம்பப் பெய்ய வேணும்; சுவாமி,

குளங்கள் பெருக வேணும்; பூமியில் போட்டது பொன்னாய் விளையணும்;

 பொலி ரொம்பக் காண வேணும்.’

The age group of dancers grouped in pairs.. The artists led by the leader move into two circles moving in and out .The  inner circle groups receives the strikes while the outer circle delivers them according to the rhythm of the sticks.The sound /rhythm of the sticks are itself a music to hear .Another dance known as  Pinnal Kolattam is danced with ropes which the women hold in their hands, the other of which are tied to a tall pole. With planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like patterns in the ropes. As coloured ropes are used, this lace looks extremely attractive. Again, they unravel this lace reversing the dance steps The girls, at the end of the session bring edibles from their houses and offer it as neivedhyam to the “Pasuvan”

The girls earn their monetary reward and accumulate it collectively so that they can use this fund for the Big day.  On the purnima day, these young girls are entitled to a relaxing oil bath. Oil and soapnut powder is provided to the girls by the Village head/the house that takes responsibility for “Pasuvan”. The girls then adorn themselves with fine silks,jewellery and flowers.
 A young brahmachary boy in the village selected as “Pasuvan Pillai” is gifted with a “kuttai”, towel and garland. 
He then accompanies the “Pasuvan” in a bullock cart or “Chaparam”(palanquin)(Nowadays taken in car)to the river or lake accompanied by nathaswaram, melam and petromax light . Ladies and girls, grouped age-wise, also join the procession singing songs and playing various types of kolattam. New songs are also composed every year.. The young girls perform kolattam all along the route in front of the “Pasuvan”. All the women of the Agraharam now join the young girls in the dance and song. Older women perform “Kummi” dance.  At the river bank, the “Pasuvan” is immersed in the river/vayal and  the Paaligai is dissolved in the waters by the elderly ladies and. On their way back, Haarathi is performed before the houses.. then prasadam is distributed. The ladies were given thamboolam and dinner. This will be followed by a grand communal feast. ”. 

Through these festival we learn about the seasons, effect of monsoon on the harvest, and learn to share, work as a team and manage public fund. This festival gives the villagers an opportunity to mingle freely, to exhibit their skill and imagination in composing and singing songs, learn how to express and communicate without words.  as well as strengthening unity and co-operation.

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