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Ancient Hindu art promotes Eucharist
Kathakali dance reaches out to youngstersClassical dancers performing the work
- George Kommattathil, Kozhikode and ucanews.com reporter, Kochi
- July 18, 2011
The brains behind the concept is Father Mathew Chencheril, who penned the 120-minute performance entitled Divyakarunyacharitam -Â the Story of the Eucharist.
â€śMy aimÂ is to reach out to young people through this ancient art form and spread the message of Jesus Christ. Iâ€™m getting great response from all quarters, including Hindus,â€ť said Father Chencheril, who is a member of the Missionary Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
â€śMy Malayalam poem, Ithu Ninakai, which means This Is For You and tells the story of the Eucharist, was well appreciated,â€ť he said. â€śIts successÂ motivated me to try the Kathakali form to tell the story.â€ť
The Major Archbishop and head of the Syro-Malabar Church will inaugurate the premiere performance of Divyakarunyacharitam at the Pastoral Orientation Centre, Kochi, on July 21. Through five scenes enacted over 90 minutes, the performers will take the audience through the last days of Jesus from the court of Pontius Pilate to Calvary.
Radha Madhavan, a renowned Hindu artist, has rewritten the poem to adapt it to the Kathakali form. Kalamandlam Sajan will perform the lead role while Kottackal Madhu will reciteÂ the songs. Both are leading exponents of the art.
â€śWe are happy to welcome Christianity to Kathakali,â€ť said Sajan.
One of the oldest forms of theater in the world, Kathakali is traditionally performed in temples and based on stories derived from Hindu epics and legends. It recounts the stories through lyrics and mudras, a series of highly stylized, symbolic moves and gestures, performed in traditional attire.
The actor who plays the role of Jesus will wear the traditional kareetam (crown) and Â express himself through the mudras and make up which were originally reserved for Hindu deities only.
Father Chencheril pointed out that he hopes to experiment with new methods of evangelization through an ancient Indian art form without hurting religious sentiments.
â€śThere is a criticism against the Church that Christians do not have Indian roots. So I thought of spreading the message of Jesus Christ in the pure Indian traditions.â€ť
He plans to present Divyakarunyacharitam in every parish and even aspires to take it beyond borders.
Doctor Babu Paul, an eminent church historian, said â€śthe priestâ€™s bold attempt is very innovative and creative.â€ť