The most ‘ancient’, ‘expressional’, ‘theatrical’ art form of Kerala, originated over 2000 years ago, Koodiyattam is recognized as one of the ‘Masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’ by UNSECO. Koodiyattam means acting together, which is enacted inside the Kerala’s Hindu Temples. Koodiyattam is a dramatic appearance in the Sanskrit language with music and dance. It is the only art that preserves the ancient Sanskrit tradition of India, and the centuries by families of actors called Chakyars and Nangiars & Nambiars (the women & men folk respectively).


Margi Madhu Chakyar

‘Thoranayudham’ is one of the famous performances of Koodiyattam, that take place for over 6 nights (3 to 4 hours each night) showcases the pieces of Ramayana. The show gives the immense significance to facial expressions with the delicately-wrought eye, brow and lip movements. By using gestures through the face and eyes (netrabhinaya), actor depicts emotions and stories on the stage. 

“Margi Madhu Chakyar”, a living legend of Koodiyattam

“I started learning this greatest form of art in my mother’s womb as it is conserved in our family’s traditional history. Also, there is no way other than seeing the art form again and again and being a part of it. That was my initial fuel which I acquired 38 years ago, watching my father and uncle (Late Padma Bhushan Ammannoor Madhava Chakyar)”

Margi Madhu who started Nepthaya Group is one of the renowned Koodiyattam artistes known for bringing revolution in this art form.  He pursued the subject of Koodiyattam and rendered a strong character to it. He has received a number of honorable awards including ‘Sanskriti National Award’ for young artists, Theatre Pasta International award, and ‘KALA’ puraskaram from London.


The Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur and the Koodal Manikyam temple at Irinjalakkuda are the main centres where Koodiyattam is performed annually.

Shilpa Kohli