Empowering Women through Panchavadyam


Panchavadyam, a traditional orchestra using five musical instruments Edakka, Thimila, Madhalam, Kombu and Elathaalam is a prestigious musical ensemble of Kerala popularly seen in most of the temple festivals and in cultural processions. By practice or by tradition, only males were performing this musical ensemble.  But a group of ladies under the organisation “Punarjani” from Perumparambu area, near Edappal in Malappuram district have come forward to learn this orchestration.

The group consists of 29 members, ranging from 12 year old school going students like Anagha, Amrutha and Anamika to 60 plus year old grandmothers- Janaki, Thankamani and Remani.


The challenge to teach these ladies with varied physique and mind set was taken up by Sopanam School of Panchavadyam, a training and performing centre for Panchavadyam and other traditional orchestrations based at Valayamkulam, in Malappuram District (www.sopanam.info).

Ajith Alamkode, Coordinator and artist at Sopanam School outlined the concept – “the main objective of the school is to teach and popularize traditional orchestras irrespective of cast, religion or gender. Hence we decided to offer training and this was put into practice and now we have completed almost a year”.  “Now the final session of practicing, synchronization of all musical instruments is on, and we plan to do the first public performance in October, during Navarathri festival at Perumparambu Shiva temple” he added.


Panchavadyam is the combination of five musical instruments.  Ten members in the group are learning Thimila, five are on Madhalam, two girls are learning Edakka, seven practicing Elathaalam and five girls on Kombu.  They have been getting their training under respective Asaans (Master Trainer) for over a year and the sessions are on holidays in addition to evening sessions.

Sukhitha, a young girl and a national level performer and trainer of the martial arts Wushu, is the head of the team Punarjani.  She says “Panchavadyam is a popular orchestration in the region and we want to open up this field to ladies.”


The master trainers who give training to these ladies are  Santhosh Alamkode (Thimila),  Sudheesh Alamkode (Thimila & Elathalam), Kadavallur Babu (Madhalam), Alamkode Venu Nair (Elathalam), Shyam Kadavallur  (Edakka) and Kadavallur Velayudhan  (Kombu).


Sudheesh Asaan said “Their approach is sincere and hence they are putting lot of effort, irrespective of their practical difficulties. Now it is basic, after Arangettam  (the debut performance), they have to learn and practice more to become a professional team to compete in the festival market.”

According to Santhosh Alamkode, Director and artist at Sopanam School, Panchavadyam or any such orchestrations can use not only as your profession, but also enhance your mental health as well as the social life.  “The challenge we and the Punarjani team going to face is the lack of musical instruments.   To manage the future programmes and practice, we need to own musical instruments for all. We are optimistic that somebody will come forward, an individual or organization to support this revolutionary step in the field of traditional art” said Santhosh.



Empowering Women through Panchavadyam Empowering Women through Panchavadyam Reviewed by Welcome Kerala on 09:02:00 Rating: 5

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