Keen to keep Kerala’s culture alive, 100 Malayali women mesmerise US' Charlotte with Thiruvathira

The event lasted for a little over eight minutes in an open ground in Charlotte. Photo | Special arrangement

Kochi: Charlotte, a commercial hub in the US’ North Carolina, had a unique cultural experience on April 6 as 100 women from Kerala, all clad in identical cream saree with purple blouse, performed a ‘Thiruvathira’, a traditional group dance of their native land. As the performance, which lasted for a little over eight minutes in an open ground, concluded Resmi Mulakkal was overwhelmed with a sense of joy and satisfaction. For the Kodungalloor native woman who has been settled in the US for the past 26 years, the performance set a milestone in her decade-long attempts to keep her homeland’s culture alive on the foreign soil.
Resmi, who migrated to the US after her marriage, has been active in organising cultural events among Malayali diaspora in Charlotte for years. She used to organise Thiruvathira performance during Onam celebrations at Charlotte for nearly 10 years. Then maximum 30 women used to perform. This year, she wanted to make the Vishu celebrations something special and of a grander scale. The 100-member Thiruvathira became a reality thus.

Resmi Mulakkal with Sridevi Ozhukil. Photo | Special arrangement

“Performances involving hundreds or even thousands of people are nothing new to Kerala. But I think what we did was a new experience for not just Charlotte but for other parts of the US also. When we planned the event, many women came up with interest to participate in it. We had to restrict the number to 100 for convenience,” Resmi said. Resmi had started the preparation for the performance way back in September 2023. The performers wore handwoven kuthampully sarees while the ornaments were purchased from Ernakulam. Resmi arranged rehearsals from January to March. The performers were in the age group of 22 to 50.

The expenses for the performance were met by the participating women and from sponsors. Resmi and her team celebrated the success of the performance by making some donations to a children’s shelter home. The Thiruvathira performance was accompanied by Chendamelam by a group of youth. Young girls carrying ‘thalappoli’ added to the festive spirit.

Resmi wants to make her performances as honest to its traditional forms as possible. She received her Thiruvathira lessons from her friend’s mother Sridevi Ozhukil, a connoisseur of classical arts who visit the US occasionally. Resmi has been running a collective named ‘Keralathanima’ with the aim of promoting Kerala’s traditional art forms among the diaspora. Even before that, she has been active among the Malayali women of Charlotte, helping them with yoga and wellness tips. Resmi lives in the US with her husband Sunil Mulakkal, an IT professional, and their daughters Aarcha and Niyathi.

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