Payyanur Kolkali will enthrall anyone interested in folk culture. It is not a replica of mappila kolkali or other kolkali forms elsewhere. It is unique. It can even be termed classical as the songs and the rhythms resemble karnatic music. It requires a lot of acrobatic skills as kolkli is a prelude to kalarippayattu. The disciples of kalirippayattu requires the sharpness and alertness of body which is inculcated to the young disciples through a series of kolkli performance. In kolkali, the players are provided with two small sticks (made up of Kara) fitted with steel bangles. When they are struck together they make a musical note. The players assemble in a circle.
There should be a minimum of 16 players. The players are grouped into two types - the aka, meaning those inside and the pura, meaning those inside. The kurikkal and the singers will occupy positions outside this circle. They dance according to a sett rhythm sung by the singers and echoed by the players in unison. There are plays which have to be played in a sitting position then in a standing position and finally in a moving position. While the pay progresses the kurikal utters talams loudly like munifo po (meaning Move forward) madakkam po (meaning go backwards etc) . The play ends with a vaithari thalam. There are some 50 different varieties of play but usually some twenty are played. In olden times there used to be kolkali on all festivals like nira, puthari etc at Payyanur temple. There, beneath the erinhi tree the first play is enacted as an offering to lord Subramhanya.
The kolkai songs are melodious and are usually invocation to gods. Kalasappattu by Anidil Ezhuthachan is a classic work which appears to be penned down solely for kolkali. Kalasappattu describes the brahma kalasam at payyanur temple in Malayalam era 1002. The temple which was completely destroyed in fires during tippu’s carnage was rebuilt by an anderjanam of thazhakkattumana and the song describes the various rituals of the celebrations in connection with the renovation of the temple.
The charad kuthi kali is the most attractive item in Kolkali. Here a pole is erected at the centre of the playground. Atop the pole a circular disc is attached from which coloured strings are tied down. The other ends of these strings are tied to the little finger of all players. While playing, the strings intersect each other forming a fine net. When the net is complete, the play is reversed and the same song is repeated. Exactly when the song ends the net will be undone. WATCH CHADUKUTHI KALI AT