Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri
OccupationKoodiyattam performer
AwardsPadma Shri
Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award
Margi Gold Medal
Natyakala Ratnam Award
Mrinalini Sarabhai Award
Smithsonian Institution Certificate of appreciation
WebsiteOfficial web site

Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri is an Indian classical theatre performer, the first person from outside chakyar community to practice Koodiyattam,[1] from Kerala. He was awarded the Padma Shri, in 2012, for his contributions to the art of Koodiyattam, by the Government of India.[2]


My venture in Koodiyattam was accidental, says Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri, It happened thanks to Kathakali maestro Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair and my guru, late Painkulam Raman Chakyar[3]

Sivan Namboodiri with Koodiyattam face makeup
Sivan Namboodiri with Koodiyattam face makeup
Koothambalam at Kerala Kalamandalam
Koothambalam at Kerala Kalamandalam
Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar and his troupe performing Thoranayudham (part of Bhasa's play Abhiṣeka Nataka based on the epic Ramayana) Koodiyattam (1962, Chennai). It was the first ever Koodiyattam performance outside Kerala.
Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar and his troupe performing Thoranayudham (part of Bhasa's play Abhiṣeka Nataka based on the epic Ramayana) Koodiyattam (1962, Chennai). It was the first ever Koodiyattam performance outside Kerala.

Sivan Namboodiri was born in 1950 to Ammankotu Manakkal Madhavan Namboodiri, a farmer and Devaki Antharjanam, as the youngest of their three sons, at Shornur, Palakkad, in the south Indian state of Kerala.[4][5][6] He had his early schooling at Kanayam and Vadanamkurissi, 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.[4] 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).[5][6]

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.[5][6]

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.[6]

Sivan Namboodiri is married to Indira, Sanskrit teacher at a local school and the couple has two children. The family lives in Palakkad.[4]

Career highlights

The highlight of Sivan Namboodiri's career came in Paris, when he performed two acts, Kailasoddhaaranam (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.[7]

He also performed in Germany at the Cologne Festival in 1980.[3]


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.[8]

Awards and recognitions


Invis Multimedia has brought out an almost hour-long video on the performance of Sivan Namboodiri.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Gopalakrishnan, K.K. (30 January 2005). "Subtle technique". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 August 2014. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Padma Awards Announced". India: Ministry of Home Affairs. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Title unknown". The Hindu. 30 January 2005. Archived from the original on 4 February 2005. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Nayar, V. R. Prabodhachandran (1 March 2012). "An inimitable artiste". The Hindu. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  5. ^ a b c "Kerala Tourism". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d "Artist's web site". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  7. ^ "The Hindu Interview". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Amazon". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h "Awards". Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  10. ^ Kalamandalam Sivan Namboodiri (5 May 2006). Kutiyattam Kailasodharanam (NTSC on DVD). Invis Multimedia. ISBN 8188698083.