Chakyarkoothu is one of the oldest classical arts of Kerala. It is a fine blend of social satire, mime and comedy and is usually presented in the traditional temple theatre Koothambalam or Koothupura.
This solo performance by the Chakyar (also a community name for Koothu performers) who dons the role of the Vidushaka (jester) is accompanied by the Mizhavu (a percussion instrument) and Ilathalam (cymbals). The performance begins with an invocation to the presiding deity of the temple. The narration is enlivened with thandava (the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva) movements, gestures and facial expressions according to the Natyasastra written by the sage Bharatha.
Through his inimitable narration of stories from the epics, the Chakyar satirizes the manners and customs of the time. No one is above the butt of his ridicule which varies from innocent mockery to veiled innuendoes, barbed puns and pungent invectives.
Chakyarkoothu performances are held at Vadakkumnatha temple at Thrissur, Sri Krishna Swamy temple at Ambalappuzha , Kumaranalloor temple at Kottayam and Koodalmanickyam temple at Irinjalakkuda.