The 20-member group is going to perform Seethakali folk art, outside Kerala for the first time as to revive one of the fading dance forms of Kerala.
In the early times, Seethakali was performed as part of the harvest festival Onam.
From Atham star till the 28th day after Onam, the performers who belong to the subaltern communities go from one house to another performing this art.
Key Features of Seethakali:
Folk Dance Drama: Seethakali is a traditional folk dance drama that was once performed during the festival days in erstwhile Desinganad (Kollam, Kerala), primarily during the Onam festivities.
Dalit Artists: The performance was carried out by Dalit artists belonging to the Veda and Pulaya communities, focusing on presenting episodes from the Ramayana from Sita’s perspective.
Vanayatra to Andardhanam: Seethakali portrays the journey from “vanayatra” (exile to the forest) to “andardhanam” (descend into the earth) of Sita, featuring a blend of songs, storytelling, and fast movements.
Instruments: The dance drama is accompanied by instruments such as ganjira, manikatta, chiratta, and kaimani.
Narrative through Songs: Seethakali’s story is conveyed through songs, with 28 collected over three years, featuring a folk style influenced by Vallappaattu, Kuthirappaattu, and Rakshasappattu.
Oral Tradition: Seethakali songs were orally transmitted from one generation to the next, which led to a pause in the tradition.
Basic Movements: The dance involves basic steps, striving to preserve the original essence of the art form.
Character Ensemble: The performance includes key characters such as Sita, Ram, Lakshman, Ravan, and Hanuman.
Documentary:Shajimon created a documentary titled Seethakali – Desinganadinte Dalit Ramayanam, tracing the evolution, popularity, and relevance of the art form.
Currently, in Kerala, there is only one registered Seethakali performing group – Perinad Seethakali Sangham.