When in Kerala, one cannot miss seeing a Kathakali performance.
Kathakali is a highly stylised classical Indian dance-drama, based on the stories of the Ramayana and Mahabaratha – two epics from Hindu mythology – and one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It originated in Kerala, sometime during the 17th century.
Typical for this art form is the colourful make-up, the detailed costumes and precise hand gestures and movements. Overall, Kathakali is a group performance, consisting of a harmonious combination of Sahithyam (literature), Sangeetham (music), Chithram (make-up/painting), Nathyam (acting) and Nritham (dance).
At the Kerala Kathakali Centre in Cochin, you have the opportunity to see the dancers prepare for their performance.
This artist had already put on most of his make-up himself, but needed a hand to finish up attaching his white paper beard.
His panchcha – meaning ‘green’ – facial colour suggests that he will be one of the noble characters of the play, in this case Lord Krishna. The make-up is made on the spot by mixing natural coloured powders with oil. The beard will be glued on by a starch-like mixture, consisting of ground up rice mixed with water.
… And I was patiently, yet excitedly – meaning: taking tons of pictures of this process -, waiting to see what the near future would bring…