Padma Shri Moozhikkal Pankajakshi Practices A Unique Form Of Puppetry
Moozhikkal Pankajakshi is a recipient of the Padma Shri award for this year. She is the only practitioner of a unique form of puppetry called Nokkuvidya Paava Kali. Nokkuvidya Pavakkali is centuries-old traditional puppetry of Kerala. The performer of this puppetry has to balance puppets on the upper lip and then manage the movements with constant gaze and by controlling the strings. Moozhikkal narrates the entire Ramayana and Mahabharata using the Nokkuvidya Pavakkali form of puppetry.
As per the reports of the Hindu, Moozhikkal’s granddaughter, K.S. Ranjini will follow the footsteps of her grandmother and continue to perform the art.
Here is why you should know more about Moozhikkal Pankajakshi:
- The 81-year-old, Moozhikkal Pankajakshi learned the art from her parents at the age of 12. Moozhikkal’s parents used to perform the art at temples and houses. She told the Hindu, “My grandparents and parents used to perform this Paavakali (puppetry). They used to perform in homes and temples.” She further added “It was more widely practiced those days. Once upon a time, there were other families who practiced this form of puppetry.”
- Moozhikkal Pankajakshi started her training by balancing baby coconuts on her upper lips. She spent several hours each day, sitting on the ground in the front yard of her house with her legs stretched out, looking up and balancing the baby coconuts. She practiced this daily before sunrise and also in the late afternoon.
“My grandparents and parents used to perform this Paavakali (puppetry). They used to perform in homes and temples.” She further added “It was more widely practiced those days. Once upon a time, there were other families who practiced this form of puppetry.”
- Pankajakshi’s parents never forced her to learn the art form, she was herself keen to learn. Pankajakshi dropped out of school and soon started accompanying her parents during their performances. Each of the tours, Pankajakshi’s parents went comprised of five to six performances.
- Her family never discouraged her. She said, “I am proud that neither marriage nor children put a break on my career.” Moozhikkal Pankajakshi’s husband and children helped with the presentation of the puppets. Her husband and her other family members accompany her with music and rhythm.
“I am proud that neither marriage nor children put a break on my career.”
- The inhabitant of Kerala, Moozhikkal Pankajakshi has performed in Indian and internationally.
- Pankajakshi believes patience and concentration hold the key for mastering this unique art form, Nokkuvidya Pavakkali. Many couldn’t master the art and opted out due to a lack of the aforementioned qualities.
- Moozhikkal Pankajakshi stopped performing six years ago after losing her front teeth as she couldn’t balance the puppet anymore. She is recovering from a massive stroke she suffered a few years ago. However, Moozhikkal has still kept the passion alive.
Mansi is an Intern at SheThePeople.TV
Picture Credit: The Hindu