Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, Tamil Nadu, South India

Travel Activities, India

In South India, Tamil Nadu, Wander Globe arranges for a visit to a small village near Kanchipuram - called the Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam. It trains underprivileged children in Kattaikkuttu, a ritual/ folk theatre form from northern Tamil Nadu which is sort of like a folk Kathakali - performances happen in villages during different festival and last all through the night. The stories are usually based on episodes from the Mahabharat, though usually different folk variants, so it's very different from the northern version of the epic.

The Gurukulam is the brainchild of P. Rajagopal, one of the most distinguished Kattaikkuttu actors of modern times, and his wife Hanne M. de Bruin, a distinguished Dutch Indologist and Educator. The children learn Kuttu in a residentail setting, and are also home schooled in English, Maths and other subjects. The Gurukulam, which in turn is part of the Kattaikkuttu Sangam, has a lovely seven acre space in a village about eight km from the temple town of Kanchipuram, which includes a comfortable (though not luxury) guest house suitable for Indian and international travellers, and as part of their fund raising intitiative they regularly host different groups for whom they organize special Kuttu demonstrations and performances in addition to visits to the temples in Kanchipuram town and around the district.

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