Folk fervour on Pongal at DakshinaChitra

Tamil Nadu’s own dance form poikkal kuthirai aattam is all set to get you  dancing to the tunes of parai along with the performers

author_img Rupam Jain Published :  13th January 2023 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  13th January 2023 12:00 AM
TG Raju

TG Raju

The harvest festival is here, and what better way to celebrate than indulge in some merriment? Speaking of which, we decided to put the spotlight on an age-old, traditional folk dance form from Tamil Nadu called poikkaal kuthirai aattam. Usually performed with a dummy horse, this dance form is a ‘false legged’ art. As part of their Pongal celebration, DakshinaChitra has organised performances by Thanjai TG Raju and his son Gajendran, who are exponents of this dance form. “Raju is the fourth generation carrying this particular art, and his son is now continuing the legacy. Along with them, we also have eruthu kattu melam from Ramanathapuram, Ramalingam and team to perform as part of our ongoing Margazhi Village Festival (Tamil Nadu),” says Sharath Nambiar, director of DakshinaChitra, giving us a sneak peak of what is expected.

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We couldn’t get to speak to Raju as this is a busy and hectic season for him with constant travelling. When we get on a call with Gajendran, he tells us they are going to be performing on all three days of the Pongal celebrations. “We will be presenting various forms — poikkaal kuthirai aattam, followed by karagattam, and paraiattam,” he says.

Hailing from Thanjavur, Gajendran learnt the art from his father and grandfather. “This art runs in my family. Both my grandparents and my parents are performers,” Gajendran says, adding, “The dance is actually quite difficult as we need to balance ourselves on wooden legs, which are about two feet long and made out of wood from mango trees. The performers usually dress up as king and queen, in vibrant attire and colourful accessories and dance to parai music.” Gajendran won a district-level award, Kalai Valarmani, last year, and also ran Gajendran Folk Dance Academy in Sowcarpet, till it had to be shut owing to losses incurred due to the pandemic. His father, Raju is a recipient of the Kalai Chudarmani award.

At DakshinaChitra 
Heritage Museum.
 January 15-17.