Nattu Koothu is a famous folk dance form of storytelling performed mostly in rural villages of Batticaloa. This dance is a major source of frolic, fun and pleasure for the villages and it’s generally performed during the village temple festivals. The Koothu is mostly performed by males, as the women’s characters are also usually done by folk males.
The performance comprises dialogue interpretation, storytelling, dance, singing and music. Artist with versatile skills and various talents could only perform this dance form. Voicing a dialogue in loud volume is a need to catch huge audience’s attention towards them since modern sound equipment is not mostly used during the act. Vadamodi and Thenmodi are the two main types of Koothu performed in Batticaloa. Vadamodi is about action packed storytelling with fast tempo drumming, warring heavy clothing usually performing Mahabaratha and Ramayana acts. Thenmodi is performance with slow tempo and dressed in simple costumes. The prime feature of their performance is their apparels and make up.
The performance is usually held in an open air theater called ‘shabai’. It is approximately fourteen feet wide and sixteen feet long. The themes are habitually drawn from Mahabharata. Some popular items on the theru koothu range include Draupathy Vastraparanam , Karna Moksham, Prahalada Charithram, Bagiratha Prayathanam , Kandavavana Thaganam etc. Other act on creating social awareness is also staged; Musical appliances used include Harmonium, Mugaveena, Mirudangam, Kanjara and Thaala.
The most distinguishing act of Theru Koothu is the part performed by Kattiyakkaran, the interlocutor who presents and introduce all characters on first appearance on stage. Where ever the section of the story cannot be narrated by concert he forwards the story with style. He also gives a detailed description of the story / event to helped spectators to know the plot. Nattu Koothu is not only a mode of entertainment for rural village folk it is also a ritual allied with the temples of rural Batticaloa.