The art of whisking venchamaram: Here's how it's done!

The venchamaram should be raised when the rhythm of the orchestra changes. Photo: Manorama

Venchamaram or the fly – whisks made of white yak tails is designed to move and groove according to the beats of the percussion orchestra. However, whisking a venchamaram is quite an art as it grants a majestic look to celebrations like Thrissur Pooram. Here is a step by step tutorial of the art of whisking venchamaram.

Step 1
The venchamaram should be raised when the rhythm of the orchestra changes. If it is the panchavadyam or the orchestra of five instruments, the venchamarm should be whisked at the beginning of ‘thalavattam’ (the time to complete one kaalam or a degree of speed). The person who holds the venchamaram sits behind the person who holds the idol of the Lord and the one who holds the parasol. Meanwhile, the one holds the Alavattom often sits at the back.

Step 2
Kombu or the conical brass instrument would be played as a symbol of changing the speed. The person who holds the venchamaram should sit atop the elephant with his legs spread on both sides. He should be able to maintain his posture and balance through out the ceremony. The venchamaram which is held in both the hands should be moved rhythmically before it is raised. It should be whisked while rotating to open up the thick bush of tail hair. Meanwhile, the Alavattam or the circular fans made of peacock feathers would be raised behind.

Step 3
After a few minutes, the venchamaram should be brought down before swiftly rotating it backwards. The joints of the arms should be rotated in order to achieve the rhythmic grooving. The audience should be able to see a pair of raised venchamaram on both sides of the elephant’s shoulders. Meanwhile, the alavattam should be held still.

Step 4
The venchamaram which is raised backwards should be flicked to the front before raising again. The handle of the raised venchamaram should always be above the level of the head of the person who whisks it. When the hands are rotated at the joints, the bush of hair will be opened nicely.

Step 5
The venchamaram is raised, whisked and rotated swiftly. However, it is lowered slowly in an artistic way. It would be held downwards until the orchestra starts the next speed. The number of times the venchamaram is whisked would depend upon the kind of beats of the orchestra. The Alavattam too is lowered along with the venchamaram. 

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