The all-woman Vanitha Kathakali Sangham have been performing the art form for four decades now
In a hall, of the Idoop Palace, at Tripunithura, a suburb of Kochi, Kathakali dancer Parvathi Menon is playing Duryodhana. Next to her is the youngster, Aarcha Gowri Varma. She is playing Duryodhana’s wife Bhanumathi. It is a Sunday morning in November. The sunlight is streaming in through one of the windows. Because it is a rehearsal, Parvathi wears a yellow saree, while Aarcha is in a green salwar kameez.
Thus far, the group has done 1300 performances all over Kerala, and in many places in India, apart from cities in the USA and West Asia.
Of course, the most interesting part of the dance form is the elaborate costumes and make-up. “The make-up takes about five hours,” says Radhika. “It is a combination of natural stones and powder, mixed with coconut oil.” As for the distinctive white colour, from the chin to the cheek, it is made of lime and rice flour.
(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)