TamilNadu is well known for its Dravidian culture. Tamil People have been the gurus of various performing arts across the globe. The rich culture of Tamil Nadu is seen today in various forms of arts this land has. Normally performing arts would bring Music or dance only to people’s mind. But there are many other arts forms that have originated like Silambam, Varma kalai and many more.
History of Silambattam
The History of Silambattam dates back to Pandya kings.During their reign in Tamil Nadu they promoted Silambattam along side their Chola and Chera counterparts. Silapathiharam of Tamil literature, dating back to 2nd century A.D., refers to the sale of silamabam staves, swords, pearls and armour to foreign traders. The ancient trading centre at Madurai was said to be populated largely by Romans, Greeks, Egyptians among others who had trade relations with the ancient Dravidian kings. The silambattam was one of the best entertainment for visitors at that time.
Some records trace the origin of Silambattam art to Gods and sages. Lord Muruga, and sage Agasthya have been credited with the genesis of Silambattam. Silambattam was not only used for entertainment but also for defence. The soldiers of King Veerapandiya Kattabomman relied mainly on silambattam skills to win their war against the British Army.
Few others say that Silambattam is said to have its origins in India 5000 years ago. The art traces its history back to the Kurinji mountains located in TamilNadu. Natives of the region,the Narikuravar, used the Silambattam to defend themselves against wild animals and other attackers.
Different types of Silambam used in Silambattam
Four different types of staves or Silambams are used in this activity.
- One Kind of Silambam produces a sonorous, swishing sound
- Another Kind of Silambam has lighted cloth balls at one end of the Silambam, called 'torch silambam'
- A third Kind of Silambam is short in length but extremely powerful
- The last Kind of Silambam is non - elastic and produces a clattering sound
Different Subsects of Silambattam
How is Silambattam Played and what are techniques used in Silambam?
The first step with which Silambattam begins is salutations to God, the opponent, spectators and teachers of the players. What the Players have to try is to touch opponents body by making use of the silambam. The participant who has suffered the more number of touches with the silmabam, loses the contest. To take a count of touches with the silambam the end of the Silambam are dipped into a sticky powder, which makes a prominent mark when it comes in contact with the opponent’s body. In order to be successful in Silambam, participants need to exhibit rapid foot movements and good control over your body actions. Players make use of both hands to make maximum utilization of the silambam,proper use of the head, shoulder, hip and leg level can give success as more power and control over silambam is gained.Exerting a proper control over the Silambam is of atmost importance.
How are scores awarded in Silambattam ?
One mark with the silambam normally is regarded as a point. However a mark made with silambam above the waist accounts for two points.
Duration of Silambattam
Normally Duration of the Silambattam is approximately 6 to 10 minutes which is decided prior to start. But Silambattam can end well before this stipulated period.This can happen only when any player has lost or dropped the silambam.
Where is Silambattam conducted ?
Silambattam is conducted on an even and hard surface . Slippery areas are always not suitable for silambattam. The play ground for silambattam generally has a radius of 20-25 ft and is globular in shape. The Silambattam bout generally takes place in 4 rounds .
Silambattam in Malaysia
In 1936 Mahaguru Mariapakiam, Nilaikalakki Silambam and Yoga Master travelled to Penang from South India. During 1964 Master Anbananthan became a student of the Nillaikalakki Silambam.On the Mahaguru's death Master Anbananthan became Master-teacher and leading authority for Silambattam in Malaysia . He is one of the legends who promoted Silambattam in Malaysia and the arts is still practiced there even today.
Protect Silambattam from the verge of extinction
Unfortunately this dravidian art form – silambattam is not being practiced now very widely. Because of this, in future the next generations may not even know about Silambattam. Being people of TamilNadu we really have to protect this art and enlighten ourselves and our future generation about Silambattam.