The word Koodiyattam is means performing together. It is ritualistic Sanskrit drama traditionally presented in temples of Kerala. It represents the Sanskrit theatre in India. The artform has been in Kerala for more than a thousand years. It has been mentioned in the Pallava, Chera, Chola literature of Tamil Nadu. It is one of the oldest theatre in the world .UNESCO has recognized it as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
Koodiyattam has been performed by persons belonging specific caste called Chakyars and Nangyiarammas. They performed this art form through generations. The performance was conducted inside the temple theaters known as Koothambalams and the audience who could watch the performance where the upper class hindus. The Koodiyattam performance is very lengthy as each word of the Sanskrit text to be enacted is visually elaborated by the actor. The actor may add socially relevant modern messages and his ideas while enacting so the performance of a play may extend to days. The actor communicates to the audience using his body movements. Hand gestures and facial expressions are used to portray all types of emotions and situations in the play. Nangiyarkoothu is koodiyattam performed by a female actor.
The performance take place as an offering to the presiding deity in the temple .The accompanying artist belongs to the Nambiyar caste.The musical instrument accompanying actor is the mizahavu. The costumes are somewhat similar to Kathakali. The performance strictly adheres to Natyashatra, the ancient text. The Koothamabalam is decorated accordingly.The play is divided into three parts namely purpaddu, nirvahanam and Koodiyattam. The drama is now enacted only in temples of Koodalmanikayam and Kottiyur. The actor who popularized this art form by performing this art outside temples is Guru Mani Madhava Chakyar. He took this artform to the world audience He wanted the revival and progression for the art so he ventured outside the temple premises. He was severely rebuked by the people of his caste. But today all the glory for saving this art form into extinction is his hard work.