Kerala is a treasure chest of several indigenous performance traditions, which offer a kaleidoscopic view of the Malayali way of life. Many rare gems remain obscure and face the risk of being obsolete.

Attakkalam - an initiative to carry traditions forward

Kerala is the smallest state by geography, occupying less than a quarter of space in the southern peninsular. So isn't it a marvel that it has drawn millions of tourists over the years? Beyond the physical beauty, a huge draw for guests is its lively existence of performance and ritual art forms. They offer a kaleidoscopic view of the Malayali way of life. A testament to the state's validity lies in the survival of many such art forms even today.

Yet, the definition of performance art begins and ends with popular forms like Kathakali and Koodiyattam. Many rare gems remain obscure and face the risk of being obsolete. So how do we begin to combat the phasing out of our fertile history and culture? Despite high viewer demand for these local art forms from patrons, the state does not have one trusted source for authentic information on these art forms.Attakkalam intends to embark on a multifarious mission to preserve these art forms so as to:

  • Provide the world meaningful, authentic insights into our culture and its evolution
  • Showcase ways of lifefrom a pre-colonial era
  • Offer a platform for artistes who are committed to fostering these art forms
  • , and
  • Make relevant information available to art students, researchers and aficionados who are eager to delve deeper into them

Passion coupled with vision

We are a passionate collective based in Kerala working tirelessly towards the preservation, sustenance and nurture of Kerala's traditional art forms. Team Attakkalam team has a cumulative experience of over 50 years studying and mapping performing arts and artistes, making us the bastions of Kerala's rich heritage. Our extensive experience in the field has given us a wide exposure to the art world, both nationally and internationally. This naturally allows us to tap into the growing art and artist community for large-scale impact. More importantly, being locally based, we're at a vantage point of catapulting Kerala's traditional art forms and artistes onto the world map with utmost authenticity.

The Attakkalam Portal – Why it and why now?

Historically, a majority of Kerala's indigenous art forms came into existence as religious customs or entertainment forms that were exclusive to a caste or community. By design, this called for safeguarding its authenticity by allowing only fellow community / caste or family members to carry the traditions forward. Successive generations of the same family were trained through a system that was mostly oral and practice-based.

The younger family members had to pick up these art forms predominantly through intense practice, observation and emulating the gurus. But with the passing decades, the system has had to give way to allow outsiders to take part in studying the art form. It's 2016, and a structured method to document and build a reliable database of these art forms still remains elusive.

Our initial efforts are, therefore, focused towards creating an online portal to serve as a repository of genuine, authentic information on Kerala's folk and ritual art traditions.

The portal will feature curated videos and narrative content on traditional Kerala art forms in a manner that is exhaustive and user friendly. It will include bio-sketches and background narratives of the key players and performers. The portal is envisaged to be a one stop shop for all content related to Kerala's rich and diverse performance art forms.

Why visit the portal?

  • Art enthusiasts around the world can find verified and user-friendly information pertaining to these forms of art
  • Artistes could draw on content related to them as their personal portfolio

Going forward, Team Attakkalam team is committed to launching several other initiatives that will catalyse a positive change in this space.

Because access to knowledge should not be limited to a privileged few:

Our concerted efforts will have a massive impact on preserving the rich traditional culture of the land that Malayalees around the world are proud of, as there has never been any work done in this space in the past. Art enthusiasts, artistes, students, anthropologists, patrons, the general public can now have access to a century's worth of valuable information. Attakkalam will draw the young and old alike by breathing life into a space that is in dire need of revival.

Your support can take us a long way

As a young and new initiative, any form of support to propel our work forward is welcome. Be a patron, volunteer or well-wisher, your support can take us a long way:

Help to us to make a difference

Initial documentation and archival involves website development, videography and editing, content writing, research on art forms and so on. The Attakkalam team is striving to get these done in the most cost-efficient manner. However, given the scale of this project, we require substantial funding. The following options are available for those who would like to be contribute as patrons:

  • Common Grant – The funds received under this scheme will be used towards documentation of the art forms selected by the Attakkalam team.
  • Specific Grant – If you wish to contribute financially to a certain art form or genre, a specific grant can be made in favour of Attakkalam

Your contribution, irrespective of its size, will make a huge difference to this cause.

Those who volunteer always bring about positive changes

  • If you are an expert in an art form or have some exposure to any one form, you may write articles (complete with video footage and photos) about it which will be published on our website
  • Inform us about an art form that is in existence / practice in your neighbourhood or community that you think needs to be added to the Attakkalam repository
  • Volunteer with us to research and develop content related to a performing art form

If you have any specific questions about any of the details mentioned above, feel free to contact us. Join us and be a part of a conscious collective!