Koothu - (A form of Tamil folk dance)
To truly experience the essence of Kooththu, guests can visit the village of Vinayagapuram, located about 40 kms away from Arugam Bay. Kooththu is an ancient form of folk art practiced by people from the Tamil community and consists of both, song and dance. Kooththu is very popular in the Eastern part of the country. Guests who take part in this tour will receive a number of opportunities; they will be able to watch and enjoy a memorable centuries-old form of art, get to explore the local culture and its traditions.
This type of dance showcases an informal dance structure and the performances generally depict scenes from ancient epics such as the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Tamil classics. The artistry behind the Kooththu performances go beyond that of entertainment alone, as the Kooththu was well-known as a format that educated rural people about religion and history. The Kooththu legacy is mostly passed along families through generations in these rural areas and today, a very few of them show continued interest to keep this legacy alive and so, very few take efforts to preserve it.
While this form of art helps to add immense value to community tourism, it is thanks to tours like this that helps in preserving Kooththu and also paves a way for these vulnerable rural communities to benefit financially. The Koothu was commonly performed throughout the night during temple festivals in rural areas in the East. Artists sing in their own voice and in a high pitch in order to reach the entire crowd, since no amplification mechanism was available in use during ancient times.
Traditionally, no dialogues or words were exchanged during these performances and the entire performance was showcased as a story through song with dance and movement. Artists and performers are adorned with complex and heavy costumes and decorate themselves with very bright and well-defined makeup for this performance. They also adorn their heads with towering head dresses, sparkling shoulder plates and wide colourful skirts. Traditionally, this theatre-form used to be performed predominately by male dancers and in time, female dancers began to be included.
Both, men and women perform solo or as duos for the scenes, where other performers play musical instruments and sing in the background. Audiences will be able to experience a shortened version of some of these performances with slight modifications without affecting its authenticity in order to satisfy contemporary local attendees and curious foreign guests. The tour is also inclusive of other supplementary activities such as a lunch and a visit to a women-run business centre, where women make and sell local snacks, bags and caps for tourists.