More on Kavutuvams by Lakshmi Ramaswmay

Lakshmi Ramaswamy

Readers may remember our earlier post on Kavutuvams. Guru Smt. Lakshmi Ramswamy, a guest lecturer at Madras University Fine Arts Department graciously shares with us more about Kavutuavams. BN & WWW thanks Lakshmi for this magnanimous gesture.

Lakshmi is also the Founder Director of Sri Mudhraalaya where she trains young aspirants in the art. Students are both performers of solos and participate with their teacher in group productions; won many competitions and government scholarship.

1.  When the Agama Sastras came up and when images of deities were installed, a particular ‘bija’ksharam was fixed for propitiating a deity

2.      The ‘bija’ is believed to be a ‘seed’ or embryonic ‘sound’ or ‘syllable’ by which such deity could be propitiated, pleased or summoned

3.      Kavutuvams being a ritualistic item (There are 5 types of items that have come into the margam of today. Of them three are connected with temples: ritualistic, devotional and dance-drama. The other two traditions are: court and folk) are supposed to use the particular bija with which that particular deity is installed in that temple.

4.      Therefore the syllables have two reflections: one is the bija sound and the other is the character of the deity.

5.      The ‘Tiruchengotu’ Vishnu kavutuvam has a soothing ‘ta di tom nam’ syllable in contrast with a powerful, striking ‘ta deem taka deem’ syllable in a ‘Tiruvalangkaattu’ Kali kavutuvam

6.      It is understandable that many schools did not perform the kavutumas or refused to teach kavutuvams due to factor that the ‘bija’ was present in them and any improper use of any syllable could probably attract wrong vibration or negative vibration/energy

7.      Now putting the ‘vibration’  in this context: The aspect of ‘fear’ has always stuck with human mind. Worship of God started from fear from Nature. Man started worshipping sea so that, if the Sea god is pleased, there will be no calamity of flood etc; Man worshipped fire and Sun, so that if the fire god is pleased, destruction of such nature would not happen; and so on…. Thus pleasing God to ward off evil has been there long in psychology.

8.      Silappatikaram mentions that Madhavi did propitiation to ‘varuna bootham’ before she commenced her performance. She did kavutuvams in praise of Sun God if the performances were in the morning and in praise of the Moon God if the performance was in the evening. So if not in this name, the idea and concept of kavutuvams have been long in practice.

‘Māyōn pāṇiyum varuṇa pūtar nālvakai pāṇiyum nalam peru koļkai vānūr matiyamum pāti….’ (katalaadu kaadai) Atiyaarkku nallar gives more explanation and reference to ‘deva paani’ – perundeva paani and siru deva paani. In fact the words of the deva pani on candra is also quoted by him. (I have done nila kavutuvam using these veses)

9.      Even though the deity is praised, there are no words such as ‘bless me or give me’. In other words, all the praises offered are in the nature of ‘sambodhana’ (addressing)

10.  Most of the kavutuvams finish with syllables ‘di ki taam, ta di ki taam’

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