തര്‍ജ്ജനി

Idaykka - A detailed study

Parts of Idaykka

Kuttyi
The core of the tree yielding superior jackfruit or its roots, black wood, catechu, the Indian laburnum, red sandal wood etc. are the trees used for making the kuttyi of Idaykka .The trees that does not sleep at night and have grown on the banks of a constantly following river are the most preferred. The Kuttyi is a comparatively wide hollow stick with a length of 8-8 1/2 inches and a diameter of 4-4 inches. After making the wood hollow, the end or face of the Kuttyi will be inch wide. Even though both the ends of the Kuttyi are of the same width, the center part of the stick will be comparatively thin. Exactly at the center of the stick, there is hole, which is known as the air hole. This hole, which is two millimeter in diameter, is kno! wn as the navel of the Kuttyi. It is believed that, when the end part or the face of Kuttyi made in this manner is brought close to the ear, we can hear the ‘Om’ reverberations. It is through the navel of the kuttyi that the air produced because of the pressure while the idayakka is played passes out. Two reeds of Palmyra are tied on to the small nails on both the end and sides of the ‘Kuttyi’. It is these reeds that produce the vibration when Idaykka is played. In order to get a grip on the stick, a cloth or ‘edakacha’ is wound around the Kuttyi.

Valayangal (Rings)
Two rings each of 1-inch thickness are made from the plank of wood of a mango tree or a jackfruit tree and which is similar to the rings used by children to play. Each ring will have a diameter of about 8-8 ‘ inches. Six holes are made in these rings for tying the strings. Once the holes are made the skin should be stuck on the rings in such a manner that it covers and reaches out of the circumference of the rings. This skin, which is known as ‘ulloori’ or ‘chavvu’, is made from the outer wall of the cow’s intestine. This thin layer of skin in cleaned and purified by members of a community named ‘chakliar’ This skin is stuck on to the rings with a paste made from a special kind of boiled rice mixed with ash obtained by burning dried cow dung. It is the boiled rice that we get from the temple after the ceremonial offering to gods and goddess, which is used for the purpose. Even though ‘Idaykka’ has two sides or face, only one face is used to play. The face that we use to play is known as the ‘kottuvattam’ (front side) and the other in the ‘mootuvattam’ (backside). In order to understand the face that is used to play, a ‘poduppu’ or a colorful woolen ball is tied on to the end.

Jeevakkolukal
It is the four perfectly rounded sticks, which are 7 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Several types of wood of lightweight are used for making this ‘Jeevakkolukal’.

Poduppukal
It is a bunch of colorful woolen balls tied on to the 4 perfectly rounded sticks named ‘Jeevakkolukal’. One bunch will consist of 16 different colorful woolen balls, which is tied on to a ‘Jeevakkol’ using cotton thread that is ‘ inch thick. ‘Poduppu’ means ‘decoration’. each ‘jeevakkol’ consists of 16 different colorful woolen balls and altogether there will be 64 woolen balls on the 4 ‘jeevakkolukal’ (16 woolen balls x 4 Jeevakkolukal) usually the woolen threads for making the woolen balls are brought from places like Kashmir, Banglore and Assam where it is commonly available. But in ancient times, according to Lakshmikutty Amma w/o late Njeralathu Ramapothuval, these balls were created from the clothes discarded by the tailors.

Tholkacha : (Shoulder band)
‘Thol’ means shoulder and ‘Kacha means cloth’ The peculiarity of some of the traditional musical instruments of Kerala is that the instrumentalists have to stand while playing it. And so these instruments have to be carried by the instrumentalists. To make it easier for them to carry the instrument, they have a shoulder band which will be tied on to both sides of the instrument. This shoulder band is usually made of cloth.

Idaykka kol (stick used for playing the Idaykka)
The stick used for playing an ‘Idaykka’ is almost 4 times smaller than the one used for playing a ‘Chenda’. It is made from the branches of trees like red madder or a tree locally known as ‘Chapangam’. The shape of the stick is similar to that of an elephants tusk. The one end which we hold is broader and the other end will be curved and slightly pointed. Sometimes the stick is also made from the broken or damaged stick used for playing ‘Chenda’.

What does the different part of Idaykka denote?

The reeds of palmyra at the end or face of ‘Kuttyi’
The two reeds at the face of the ‘Kuttyi’ denote the universal soul and the individual soul. It is commonly assumed and believed that the relationship between Radha and Lord Krishna is like the same relationship that exists between the individual soul and universal soul-Jeevaathma and Paramaathma. It is also believed that the reverberation of ‘OM’ is the result or the culmination of there two souls.

The six holes in the valayam (ring)
The two rings are held on to the ‘Kuttyi’ placed in the center by cotton strings. It is compulsory that there should be only 6 holes at equal distance on each ring. These six holes represents the six ancient Indian scientific principles- saakyam, Yogam, Vaiveshikam, Nyaayam, Poorvameemamsa and Utharameemamsa (Vedanta).

Jeevakkolukal
Once the strings are tied on to both the rings, the four ‘Jeevakkolukal’ in inserted in between these strings. These 4 ‘Jeevakkolukkal’ represents the 4 Vedas- Saamam, Rig, Yajur and Atharava.

Poduppukal (the woolen balls for decoration)
The 64 colorful woolen balls or ‘Poduppukal’ represents the 64 different traditional art forms. The 64 woolen balls may not be of different colors but may have different colors in one ball itself.

Knotting the thread before placing the Jeeva kkol
The two rings are tied onto each other with the Kuttyi in the centre with a string, which is thinner than a pencil. Once the Kuttyi is placed in the exact position the strings are tightened. A knot is made at the place from where the string in tightened. This knot, which is used to tighten or loosen the strings, is known as the ‘Pavithrakettu’ or the ‘Holy knot’. This knot has the same shape of the rings that is made before performing the last traditional rites to a person after death, using a grass named ‘Darbha’. Once the strings are tightened, the strings that is hanging loosely is fastened five times as made into a knot. This denotes the ‘Shivapanjakshari Manthra’ or t! he ‘Five mantras or holy recitals praising Lord Shiva ‘. It is also believed to be the five words ‘Na Ma Shi Vaa Ya’ thereby leading this to an acumination of ‘Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

Njeralathu Hari Govindan

Submitted by Swaminathan (not verified) on Mon, 2009-09-07 15:33.

Dear Mr. Hari,

Congrats for keeping your father's tradition alive. It's an excellent information those who love the sound of Idakkya accompanied with Sopanasangeetham.
E R Swaminathan

Submitted by Prasad (not verified) on Tue, 2010-03-23 22:51.

Please try to write books with "vayathari" to study or to understand the performance