Bharathakoothu I: Settings

in Image Gallery
Published on: 27 September 2018

M.D. Muthukumaraswamy

M.D. Muthukumaraswamy is a Tamil writer, Director of National Folklore Support Centre, Chennai, and a Consultant at Sahapedia.

This photo essay introduces the settings of Bharathakoothu festivities. Draupadi Amman temples are the main sites for performing Mahabharata. We explore, in this photo essay, iconographies of the deities in the Draupadi Amman temples, their geographical spread, and the transformational spaces where Koothu as theatre as well as other festivities and rituals take place. The setting of the Draupadi Amman temple is an integral part of the Bharathakoothu performances since the entire theatre, festivities and rituals are addressed towards the goddess Draupadi, who is also the heroine of the epic. Being the principal deity and a character in the epic, she listens to her own story being performed and narrated in the Bharathakoothu. The complex set of rituals, theatrical events and festivities of Bharathakoothu would not be complete without the festivities dedicated to Koothandanvar (literal translation would be 'lord of Koothu'). The shrines for Koothandavar are also well spread in the geographical area where Bharathakoothu thrives and the festivities and rituals at the shrines of Koothandavar need to be considered as part of Bharathakoothu. Koothandavar is also known as Aravan, the son of Arjuna and a Naga princess. The Pandavas beheaded Aravan as war sacrifice before the Kurukshetra war, and apart from having separate shrines dedicated to Aravan worship, his statue remains a salient part of the Draupadi Amman temple settings.