Sanskrit dance drama to be enacted in 6-day festival

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New Delhi : Performances of Kerala's Sanskrit theatre, Kutiyattam, deemed as one of India's oldest living theatrical traditions, will be held at a six-day festival at the India International Centre (IIC) here, starting Thursday.

The complete act titled "Surpanakhankam" of a Kutiyattam play will be performed by the Kerala-based Nepathya theatre group.

The act is based on Ramayana and is originally in Sanskrit.

"Surpanakhankam", the organisers said, is a dramatic retelling of the interaction of Surpanakha, the sister of Lanka's demon-king Ravana, with Rama and Lakshmana, and the latter's subsequent rejection of her overtures during their exile in the forest.

The act ends in the Ramayana episode of Surpanakha entering the court with her bloodied nose.

This theatrical dance performance will feature 12 performers and promises to be a visual spectacle in itself.

In the festival organised in collaboration with Sahapedia, the online encyclopaedia on Indian culture and history, and Seher, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the literary masterpiece will be performed theatrically for five days.

The Kutiyattam theatre represents a synthesis of Sanskrit classicism and the local traditions of Kerala.

Highlighting the artform's battle for survival, Sahapedia Executive Director Sudha Gopalakrishnan said performances of its full-scale, unabridged masterpieces are a dear sight.

"It is now rare to make available its brilliance, beauty and complexity in full performances to audiences outside of Kerala. Even in Kerala itself, such complete performances are now rare," she added.

The 2,000-year-old Sanskrit theatre has been inscribed into Unesco's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

The festival will go on till August 21.