Songs & Instruments

Instruments

Thirayattam, being an action filled ritual dance drama, is 
usually  accompanied with strident musical instruments like “Chenda (Big drums), “Ilathalam” (cymbals), Thudi (Small drums),  Kombu ( pipe) and ( flute). The enthralling music of the instruments and the excitement in the air, throughout the Thirayattam performance, incite an atmosphere of awe and mysteriousness amongst the devotees.

Playing of the instruments are in accordance to the conventional thalam of the Koolam, each Thira has their on peculiar thalam (Rhythms)and customs that are being followed down the ages. The Chenda (Big drums), and Ilathalam (cymbals) are the most prominently used instruments in a Thirayattam performance. 

The “Karumakan Vellat” is initiated by playing the musical instruments in the “Pathy thalam”. The thalams associated with each koolam in Thirayattam is as follows.  

Kulavan Thira : Shanga Thalam
Perana Moorthy : Chathur Gathi
Chetty Moorthy : Bhuvana Thalam
Nair Vellatt : Vasu Thalam
Parakkutty Thira : Roopaka Thalam
Teechamundy : Chamundy Thalam
Pookkutty Thira : Maana Thalam
Pottan Thira : Kara Thalam
Raktheswari : Tisra thalam
Karikkutty Vellatt : Aadhi Thalam
Guru Vellatt : Chathur Gathi
Perana Moorthy : Chathur Gathi
Chetty Moorthy : Bhuvana Thalam
Nair Vellatt : Vasu Thalam
Parakkutty Thira : Roopaka Thalam
Teechamundy : Chamundy Thalam
Pookkutty Thira : Maana Thalam
Pottan Thira : Kara Thalam
Raktheswari : Tisra thalam
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Anjadis & Thottam

In addition to the Koolam and the performers, the dance, instruments and songs  also has vital importance in Thirayattam. The Anchadi and Thottam, usually  the praises of the deity , are the two song forms used in Thirayattam. The Anjadis  are short songs with 5 to 6 stanza, where the Thottams are comparatively long.

In some Kolams the Anjadi and for some others the Thottam is recited in the backdrop.  By custom the Anjadi, which is a brief description of instances, is not used for female Koolams, here the Thottam is used to explain the entire story of the Devan or the Devi. The same Anjadi are used to praise different deities; the name of the deity or the tharavad will be altered according to the need of the situation.

Majority of the Anjadis are praises of lord Shiva and Parvathy, bases on the fables that are narrated down the ages. In addition to the praises of deities, there are Anjadis  that narrates the heroics of legendry figures, historic events  and even the details of the epidemics that rattled the land, in the ancient ages.  The Thottams and Anjadis do not have any specific structure or rules but they are usually rhythmic and pleasant to the ear.  Both Anjadis and Thottams are recited or sung either in a haste mode or in a slow tempo, in accordance to the situation. No written texts or documents are available on Anjadis and Thottam pattukal, the only available sources are the narratives that prevail in various communities and clans.