Melattur Style

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From the traces of History, after the battle of Tallikota in 1565 A.D., the Vijayanagara empire declined.  The Kuchipudi art form too, which was cherished by the Vijayanagara kings had to face downfall, due to lost patronage.  The Nayakarajas of Tanjore came into power.  Naturally and gradually, the glory and grandeur of Vijayanagara empire entered Tanjore and the court of Nayaka kings became the abode of fine arts.

During the 16th century, some of the Kuchipudi artistes, who are known as Bhagavathalus, migrated to the royal court of Tanjore, from Kuchipudi village and received patronage from the king Atchutappa Nayaka.  These Bhagavathalus settled at Melattur, a tiny village near Tanjavore , pleased the king with their heart-stealing performances and thus secured an “Agraharam” for them from the King Atchutappa Nayaka.

Bhagavathas or Bhagavathalu means the artistes who sing and dance episodes from Bhagavatham; Mela means group.  Therefore Natya mela or Bhagavata mela of Tanjore means the group of artistes performing Yakshaganams of Kuchipudi origin, based on the stories of Srimad Bhagavatam, in and around Melattur in Tanjore.

The very word “Bhagavathar” is the Tamil version of the Telugu word “Bhagavathalu”.  Such was the merge of Kuchipudi culture in Tanjavore region.  Following this adaptation, it is clear that the then prevailing dance form in and around Melattur too, gained the advantages of few characteristics of Kuchipudi Yakshganams.  As the Melattur Bhagavatha Mela dance dramas are very colourful, rich in music  and has a mass-appealing quality, the Melattur style Bharatanatyam too has all these characteristics as its unique features.

Our Mahaguru late Sri Mangudi Dorairaja Iyer, hailing from Mangudi Village of Tanjavore District developed this style .