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Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri

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Occupation  Koodiyattam performer
Website  Official web site

Name  Kalamandalam Namboodiri
Awarded by  Government of India

Born  1950Shornur, Thrissur, Kerala, India
Awards  Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Other Major Traditions of Dance and Dance Theatre

Actor at his best kalamandalam sivan namboodiri kutiyattam

Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri is an Indian classical theatre performer, the first person from outside chakyar community to practice Koodiyattam, from Kerala. He was awarded the Padma Shri, in 2012, for his contributions to the art of Koodiyattam, by the Government of India.


Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri as Ravanan in Thoranayuddham

Kutiyattam kailasodharanam from ramayana theatre art kalamandalam sivan namboodiri kerala


Sivan Namboodiri was born in 1950 to Ammankotu Manakkal Madhavan Namboodiri, a farmer and Devaki Antharjanam, as their youngest of three sons, at Shornur, Palakkad, in the south Indian state of Kerala. He had his early schooling at Kanayam and Vatanamkurissi, but, being a poor student, had to drop out of school at Grade 7. He joined Kerala Kalamandalam, in 1965, at the age of 14, to learn Kathakali.

During that period, the renowned Koodiyattam maestro, Painkulam Raman Chakyar, was in the process of setting up the Koodiyattam department at Kalamandalam and, on the insistence of Vallathol Narayana Menon, the founder of the institute, and K. N. Pisharody, Sivan changed his course to study Koodiyattam, as one of the two students of the first batch of Koodiyattam. Sivan was fortunate to learn the art from the masters such as Painkulam Raman Chakyar, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair (Kathakali thespian), and Kalamandalam Krishnankutty Poduval (Chenda exponent).

After the initial study of 6 years, Sivan enrolled for the post graduate course of 2 years at Kalamandalam. This was followed by an advanced course in New Delhi, with the help of a scholarship from the Department of Culture, Government of India.

In 1975, he joined Kerala Kalamandalam as an instructor in the Faculty of Koodiyattam and, at present, is the most experienced teacher there. In 1980, University of Calicut invited him to be a part of the School of Drama where is working as a visiting professor since then.

Sivan Namboodiri is married to Indira, Sanskrit teacher at a local school and the couple has two children. The family lives in Thrissur.

Career highlights

The highlight of Sivan Namboodiri's career came in Paris, when he performed two acts, Kailasoddhaaram (Ravana lifting Mount Kailasa) and Parvathiviraham (Goddess Parvathi's separation from Lord Siva), before a UNESCO jury to select art forms to be considered for inclusion in UNESCO's Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The jury approved the inclusion of Koodiyattam subsequent to the show.

He also performed in Germany at the Cologne Festival in 1980.


Sivan Namboodiri was the first artist from outside the chakyar community to perform Koodiyattam. He is also considered as the first person to learn Koodiyattam in an institutional way; till his entry, Koodiyattam was taught under the gurukula system. Another first attributed to Sivan Namboodiri is that he was the first male to perform Nangyar Koothu which was the domain of nangiars, the ladies from Nambiar community. He is also credited with revolutionizing the Koodiyattam costumes and accompanying music.

Awards and recognitions

  • Padma Shri - 2012
  • Margi Gold Medal for Best Young Koodiyattam Performer - 1970
  • Margi Gold Medal for Best Young Koodiyattam Performer - 1971
  • Margi Gold Medal for Best Young Koodiyattam Performer - 1972
  • Natyakala Ratnam Award of Calcutta Malayalee Association - 1992
  • Junior Fellowship - the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Department of Culture, New Delhi - 1995
  • Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi Award for Koodiyattam - 1998
  • Mrinalini Sarabhai Award for Classical excellence - 1999 (he is the first recipient of the award)
  • Certificate of appreciation from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington
  • Works

    Invis Multimedia has brought out an almost hour-long video on the performance of Sivan Namboodiri.

  • Kalamandalam Sivan Namboothiri (2005). Kutiyattam Kailasodharanam. Invis Multimedia. ISBN 8188698083. 
  • References

    Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri Wikipedia

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