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Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri: 30 years of excellence in Thitambu Nritham
- Kodoth Rajan

August 5, 2008

Puthumana Govindan Namboothiri (48) is a legend in the field of Thitambu Nritham. His debut performance was at Sree Athiyampoor Subrahmanya Swamy Temple, Kanhangad, during the Shashthi Uthsavam (1979). He hails from Chemmattam Vayal, Kanhangad in Kasaragod district. He has performed at almost all the temples in north Kerala in the past 25 years. He was inspired by Late Thekkillam Keshavan Embranthiri (First Vethiramana Award winner) and remembers vividly, how he was introduced by Kadannappalli Sankaran Kutty Marar to Pallikkunnu Kanathoor temple for performing with Thekkillam Kesavan Embranthiri.

Govindan Namboothiri is known for developing Thitambu Nritham as a classical dance form. He had performed in more than a hundred temples by the age of 25. His performances on stage have been appreciated by thousands of dance lovers including from other religions. Video clippings of his performances are even included in the topics of interest of dance researchers in foreign universities. He has been honored by many organizations for having brought out the possibilities of this art form, making it free from the rituals at temples.

He follows entirely Thekkan saili and has excelled in this area. He has received many honors from well known temples like Chirakka Kavu, Thalassery, Kuttamath Bhagavathi Temple, Cheruvathur, Pallikkunnu Mahavishnu temple, Kanathur, Edakkad Vishnu Temple, Kannur etc. It is a matter of interest that there are many temples where he continues to perform from the time he was assigned since 1979! His performance at Sree Kollya Mookambika Temple, Ullal, has been televised for national TV channel Doordarshan for ‘Kshethrakalakal’ in the section on Thitambu Nritham.

In 2007, he did a number of State level programs like Uthsav 2007 and Lavanyam 2007. He has performed for various local channels at Kasaragod like Indiavision and other city channels and regularly performs during the festive season. He was selected for a 1 hour special interview by Indiavision on Thitambu last year. His performance at Veerabhadra temple, Cheruvathur (the second famous Arattuthsavam of north Kerala Vayalil Arattu) was telecast by Asianet channel. His performance at Cherupuzha Ayyappa temple was considered the best performance in the year 2005 by a panel of veteran experienced experts. His performance at Sree Vishnumangalam temple, Kanhangad will be telecast in the Surya channel under the program 'Keli.' This distinguished artist was honored by Doordarshan Trivandrum in a program 'Kasavutheeram' in 2007.

He has received the titles 'Janakeeya Narthakan' and 'Thitambu Nritha Chakravarthy' for his outstanding and valuable contributions in this field. Recently, he was honored with 'Thitambu Nritha Prathibha' by Kollya Mutt Seva Sangham, Mangalore, for his expertise.

Govindan Namboothiri's style of performing Thitambu Nritham is unique and attractive even to viewers who have no knowledge of this divine art. His performances always attract large crowds at temples. He always says, "I perform Thitambu Nritham with bhakthi" which is the secret of his success. He does not believe in the tendencies of new artists to perform mere dance instead of nritham due to lack of effort. He performs different shailis for continuous 30 minutes each for 4 Thalavattams (for continuous 2 hours) and says the 'Atantha' is his favourite. He remains true to his art and never tries to copy other dances and art forms.

Every year he performs at new temples in North Kerala and Karnataka. He has delighted crowds in various parts of Karnataka including Mangalore and Bangalore apart from Trivandrum, Kochi, Thrissur and Calicut. It is a measure of his fame that people even from far way places crowd to temples for his performances. It is a reflection of his devotion to his art that he is giving special training to many aspiring youngsters. He is known as 'Guruji' to the performers of other classical dance forms.

Govindan Namboothiri respects all Thitambu artists whether they follow Thekkan or Vatakkan saili. He lives as a pure Namboothiri and maintains the old traditions of the community. He is involved in research on the origin, drumming, development, scope and other peculiarities of this art and intends to publish a book on his research. The purpose is to rejuvenate Thitambu Nritham which is a fading art. He is also preparing 2 reference books on Thitambu Nritham which is in the process of publication. There are many who believe that Govindan Namboothiri has not received due recognition.

Courtesy: Members of committees of various temples in Malabar, co-coordinators of various dance festivals, dance researchers and other performing artists.