The story enacted in the Kaisika Natakam
Photos: Lalitha Venkat
Kaisiki Natakam, a heart warming and intensely human tale, has gripped the imagination of commoners and kings down the centuries.
The story has an unusual element in that it points to the special place music and dance has in religious worship in temple societies of ancient times. The divisions of caste and class were blurred when it came to the purity of a devotee's intent. Similar to the practice connected with Vaikunta Ekadesi, devotees would fast and stay awake during the night of the Kaiska Ekadesi and listen to music and dance in praise of Nambi Perumal (the name given to Lord Vishnu in Thirukurungudi in Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu). This was an act of great piety.
Kaisiki Natakam was performed in Thirukurungudi with great fanfare until 1955. Due to scholars, as well as patrons like the late T.V. Sundaram Iyengar, thousands of devotees used to throng the massive temple in Thirukurungudi on the night of Kaisika Ekadesi every year. After the demise of Sundaram Iyengar in 1955, the play, which used to extend for five hours past midnight, seemed to have lost its appeal, content and audience till it was reconstructed and revived recently.
RECONSTUCTING AND REVIVING AN ANCIENT TEMPLE THEATRE RITUAL
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