നദികൾ തീരങ്ങൾ തേടുന്നത് എന്തിനാണ്
ആകാശം ആരെയാണ് കാത്തിരിക്കുന്നത്
നീണ്ട രാത്രികൾ ഏതു സ്വപ്നത്തിൽ
എന്തിനെയും തിരസ്ക്കരിക്കുന്ന അവളുടെ മനസ്സ്
ആരെയാവും സ്വീകരിക്കാൻ കൊതിക്കുന്നത്
ജീവിതയാത്രയിൽ മരണം പുഞ്ചിരിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കെ
ജീവൻ ഏതു ആത്മാവിനെയാണ് സ്വന്തമെന്നു വിളിക്കുന്നത്
അല്ലെങ്കിലും സ്വന്തമായിട്ട് എന്താന്ന് ജീവിതത്തിൽ ഉള്ളത്
എല്ലാം അറിഞ്ഞിട്ടും കൂട്ടു കൂടാൻ ഒന്ന് ചേർന്നിരിക്കാൻ
മോഹിക്കുന്ന മനസ്സിനോട് എന്ത് പറയാൻ
നദികൾ തീരങ്ങൾ തേടുന്നത് എന്തിനാണ്
I am still heady over the three month break in the quaint little place called varandharappilly, in Thrissur, Kerala, in a beautiful home rich with veggies of all kinds that the Bangalore weather still not getting to me with its rains and dampness nor are the roads hitting the wrong keys.
My refrigerator is still glossing in pride over its latest abundance of mango delights – pickles of all kinds, salted mango and mango mix for a quick curry, the jack fruit jam, the banana jam that it has an air of conceit around it.
I pick up a few ripe and boiled mango preserved cleverly by my amma from the stuffed refrigerator and heat it in a pan of water. To this I add some turmeric, chilli powder and salt and a piece of jaggery and let it boil to its hearts content.
In the meanwhile I pick up a coconut waiting for self realization and slice up its kernel and toss it into mixer jar. To give it some company I add some good amount of curd, two green chillies and some jeera or cumin seeds.
To the happy boiling mango on the gas stove I pour this mixture which is a now a fine paste, and add a pinch of turmeric and check the taste.
Into another pan, I pour a teaspoon of coconut oil and once it is heated I add some mustard seeds, 2 whole chillies, some curry leaves and now pour the seasoning on to the boiled mango curry now rich with coconut paste and the result is heavenly to say the least.
I thank my mother for her wisdom and effort and my daughter for her appreciation of a good home cooked meal and we crunch our pappadoms, add some fine mango pickle and bite into salted chillies fried freshly and smile.
Isn’t it a good life after all?
Jayaprabha Menon is one of the leading exponents of Mohiniyattam, one of the major traditional dance forms of Kerala. Jayaprabha is based out of New Delhi where she runs a dance academy called The International Academy of Mohiniyattam(IAM) to promote the dance form in the national capital.
Jayaprabha stared her journey as a dancer at the tender age of 4. This was due to her natural inclination for dance which was noted and encouraged by her supportive parents. She started training under the guidance of the accomplished dancer, Guru Smt.Kalamandalam Saraswathy of Nrtitalaya, Calicut, Kerala. Her quest for excellence and her dedication to continuous learning took her to Padmashree Guru Bharathi Shivaji who further honed her skills as a Mohiniyattam exponent. She also learned Bharathanatyam under the tutelage of Smt.& Shri C. V. Chandrasekhar, Chennai.
Mohiniyattam literally means the dance of the mohini or the beautiful lady. It flourished under the patronage of the erstwhile King of Travancore, Shri Swati Thirunal whose compositions are used by the dancers even today. The subsequent rulers of Travancore, after Swati Thirunal though gave preference to Kathakali over Mohiniyattam and the dance form suffered a temporary decline.
It was Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon who conceived the idea of the now famous Kalamandalam as a centre for promotion of the traditional art forms of Kerala in the year 1930 who took an active interest in promoting and popularizing Mohiniyattam. In fact Mohiniyattam as we know today owes much to Vallathol Narayana Menon and Kalamandalam.
The dedication of veteran dancers who trained at Kalamandalam like Kalamandalam Chinnammu amma, Kalamandalam Kalyani Kutty Amma, Kalamandalam Satyabhama helped in infusing a new life into Mohiniyattam . This enabled it to earn the coveted position of being a premiere art form of Kerala.
The veteran dancers of Kalamandalam also developed a systematic pedagogy for the study of Mohiniyattam which included “Cholkkettu”, “Jatiswaram”, “Varnam”, “Padam” and “Thillana”. These were in some ways similar to that of Bharathanatyam, another dance form.
As Mohiniyattam gained popularity, many schools and styles came into being. The credit of reinventing Mohiniyattam goes to Padmabhooshan Kavalam Narayana Panicker , an eminent theatre personality, scholar and poet who introduced Sopana Sangeetham to Mohiniyattam, giving the art form its distinct regional flavour.
Sopana Sangeetham is the regional music of Kerala .” Sopanam” refers to the steps or holy stairs that lead to the sanctum sanctorum of a temple where the presiding deity is placed. Usually Sopana sangeetham is rendered by the members of the Marar community or the Pothuval community who are ambalavasis. The slow rhythmical vocals sung to the accompaniment of the Edakka as a part of Sopana Sangeetham is called “Kotti Padi Seva”. It is intended to help the devotees scale heights of oneness with the deity. Edakka is a traditional musical instrument.
“Kotti padi seva” is rendered while the pooja or the worship of the deity takes place behind the closed doors of the sanctum sanctorum. The rhythmical beats and music of “Kotti padi seva” called “antholiga gamakam”refers to the wave like rise and fall of sound in Sopana Sangeetham. The antholiga or the wave-like movement of a Mohiniyattam dancer and the antholiga gamagas of Sopana Sangeetham perfectly complement each other.
The “vaythari” ,mnemonics or the syllables of the percussion instruments of Idakka, Maddalam and Chenda add to the wholesomeness of the spectacle, creating a perfect visual, auditory and sensory experience that is authentic and typical of Kerala in every aspect.
A dedicated dancer , Jayaprabha considers it her good fortune to be able to do research under the guidance of the great scholar, Kavalam Narayana Panicker. She has produced many traditional as well as innovative Mohiniyattam numbers which have received a lot of critical acclaim.
She was honoured with the title Kalashree by the Sangeetha Natak Academy,Kerala for her contributions in the field of Mohiniyattam in the year 2015.
She has also been conferred an honorary PhD by the Kings University,USA for her mastery of the dance form.
She is empanelled with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and is an A Grade artist of Doordarshan, the national television.
She started performing overseas as a 19 year old, as a member of the then Kerala delegation to The Festival of India, USSR ,a part of a Govt of India initiative in the year 1987.
What started as a passion has now become a rewarding career bringing laurels to the dancer, her gurus and her disciples. To watch Kalashree Jayaprabha Menon perform Mohiniyattam is nothing less than a life time experience.
The cultural and aesthetic richness of Kerala is brought out by the many cultural art forms which are practiced and promoted even to this day, Mohiniyattam being one of the foremost art forms among them. Other notable dance and art forms from Kerala include Kaikotti Kali, Kathakali, Ottam thullal, Margam Kali,Oppana etc.
The success of an artist comes from a dedication of a life time, sacrifices by the near and dear and a willingness to persevere and an unstinting pursuit of excellence. Kalashree Jayaprabha Menon is an exemplary role model for aspiring dancers across the world. Here’s wishing her many more accolades and rewards!
Jayaprabha Menon enacting the part of Lord Shri Krishna during a Mohiniyattam recital