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And they danced to the beat of their dreams...
by Dr Elsa Lycias Joel
2017-08-21 11:41:28
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Accomplishing any feat with lots of passion, dedication and hard work in spite of hurdles makes one feel on top of the world. A handful of homemakers from Chennai feel so ever since they got into the Guinness book of records for being part of the largest thiruvathira in the world which took place in Kitex Ground, kizhakambalam, Kochi on May 1, 2017. These 22 keralites who have made Chennai their home turned out to be ‘Chennai’s pride’ after their extravaganza of ‘Thiruvathira’, also called as kaikottikali.

All 6582 women from 20 states of India who took part in this Guinness show have a story to say. The formation of a like-minded enthusiastic team happened over months.  Through the course of learning and rehearsals these 22 women evolved into a family who simply helped each other cross the hurdles and enjoy success. Co-ordination and co-operation was their keystone because this form of dance can’t happen with odd numbers. Among the 22, it wasn’t easy to differentiate the novice from professional dancers as each one did their best in terms of ragam, bhavam, thalam and layam to Smt. Preetha’s Thiruvathira song.

Lore has it that women performed thiruvathira in their homes during Onam or Thiruvathira day of the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December- January) to remember the act of  Lord Siva taking Parvathi as his wife. The dancers look beautiful in typical Kerala style — mundu and neriyathu and the hair in a bun, adorned with jasmine garlands. It doesn’t stop with spreading the message of joy but also the emotions a married woman displays for her beloved husband. Not restricted to only married women, the unmarried lot dance with the belief of attaining marital bliss.

Kudos to Ms.S. Sumithra Nair, one among the 22, a passionate dancer who believed that dancing can bring people together and worked on it tirelessly till the whole team set foot on Kitex Ground. She met the rest 21 in and around Chennai, during different occasions when she or her students had taken part in some dance competitions. On a casual chat with Ms. Malathy G Menon fondly addressed as “the mother of thiruvathira”, did Sumithra really get the inspiration to aim for something bigger. That is, to be a part of Thiruvathira world record dance aka Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam sponsored by Parvanendu school of thiruvathira. with asia book of records and limca book of india records in her kitty, Ms. Malathy G Menon was still reaching for the stars when Ms. Sumithra got in touch with her. Just as good energy is infectious, regular chats with Ms. Malathy G Menon helped Ms. Sumithra seek solutions for problems that arose in all shapes and sizes, persevere even when few good dancers dropped out for medical reasons and maintain the count of people that was expected.  

During an interview after the official declaration of the record did Ms. Malathy equated her recognition with delayed spring time uttering “vaigi vanna vasanthamanu ithu eniku” for reasons so many, one of which being this thiruvathira stalwart is never invited to judge competitions. As the world knows outspoken independent judges who don’t mince words aren’t favored anywhere by anybody. But still, a stalwart’s worth remains is what this success story proves.

A link to the official presentation of the Guinness certificate to Ms. Malathy Menon is as follows:  https://youtu.be/M4pygPyluno


Few from the Chennai team
From left
Sreeja, Sujaya, Sumithra, Kavitha, Sruthi, Vidhya, Malathi and Seema.


Kitex Ground, Kochi


The whole team with Ms. Malathy Menon wearing black rimmed spectacles (fourth from left) flanked on either side by Sumithra Nair (left) and Sruthi Nair (Right)


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