Ekathara Kalari is a space for sadhakas from the traditional knowledge streams of art, spirituality, theatre, puppetry, music and healing. Merging the concepts of the ‘Akhara’, a space for Baul practitioners from the Bengali tradition, and the ‘Kalari’, the traditional Kerala theatre practice space.It was founded by Shri. Ravi Gopalan Nair and Smt. Parvathy Baul in 1997.

The Kalari is open for a few selected students who would like to go through a period of intense training in the Baul Parampara. The Kalari has created many festivals, workshops, meetings and tours with contemporary masters and practitioners from all around the world.

Ekathara Kalari organizes the Tantidhatri Festival, an international women’s performing arts annual event. The Kalari also organizes regular Baul Gyan Darpan events (Baul Retreats). It also works with Baul Ashrams and established Baul Gurus and masters, documenting and researching various aspects of the tradition.

ABOUT PARVATHY BAUL

As the most recognized woman Baul performer in the world, Parvathy Baul is a practitioner, performer and teacher of the Baul tradition from Bengal, India. She is also an instrumentalist, storyteller and painter.

She has performed in over forty countries, including such prestigious concert halls and music festivals as the Noh Theater in Kyoto, the World Music Center in New York City, and the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco.

Parvathy’s technical virtuosity – her mastery of vocal pitch and tone while playing multiple instruments and dancing – has been lauded by music experts. The depth of her mesmerising performance is rooted in her deep spiritual practice, and is described by critics as “riveting” and “spellbinding.”

The Baul tradition dates back to the early 8th C. AD and has grown weaving together threads from Sahajiya Buddhism, Turkish Sufism and Bengali Hinduism. This powerful musical form has been recognised as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

Parvathy’s performance work emerges from a long lineage of master Baul singers, dancers, and spiritual teachers. She studied closely with two of the most respected Baul singer-gurus of the previous generation, Sri Sanatan Das Thakur Baul and Sri Shoshanko Goshai. She was recognized by her gurus as both a musical and spiritual teacher in the Baul tradition, carrying forward their spiritual legacy.

She is a tireless advocate for both preservation and renewal of the tradition, frequently using her international reputation to highlight other, lesser-known master performers, and is making systematic training in traditional Baul arts available to women on a scale that has never occurred previously.

Parvathy has recorded five CDs of music and published a book on the Baul tradition through Ekathara Kalari, her non-profit institution promoting ancient Indian spiritual traditions, with an emphasis on Baul arts and practice.

ABOUT PARVATHY BAUL

As the most recognized woman Baul performer in the world, Parvathy Baul is a practitioner, performer and teacher of the Baul tradition from Bengal, India. She is also an instrumentalist, storyteller and painter.

She has performed in over forty countries, including such prestigious concert halls and music festivals as the Noh Theater in Kyoto, the World Music Center in New York City, and the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco.

Parvathy’s technical virtuosity – her mastery of vocal pitch and tone while playing multiple instruments and dancing – has been lauded by music experts. The depth of her mesmerising performance is rooted in her deep spiritual practice, and is described by critics as “riveting” and “spellbinding.”

The Baul tradition dates back to the early 8th C. AD and has grown weaving together threads from Sahajiya Buddhism, Turkish Sufism and Bengali Hinduism. This powerful musical form has been recognised as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

Parvathy’s performance work emerges from a long lineage of master Baul singers, dancers, and spiritual teachers. She studied closely with two of the most respected Baul singer-gurus of the previous generation, Sri Sanatan Das Thakur Baul and Sri Shoshanko Goshai. She was recognized by her gurus as both a musical and spiritual teacher in the Baul tradition, carrying forward their spiritual legacy.

She is a tireless advocate for both preservation and renewal of the tradition, frequently using her international reputation to highlight other, lesser-known master performers, and is making systematic training in traditional Baul arts available to women on a scale that has never occurred previously.

Parvathy has recorded five CDs of music and published a book on the Baul tradition through Ekathara Kalari, her non-profit institution promoting ancient Indian spiritual traditions, with an emphasis on Baul arts and practice.

ABOUT RAVI GOPALAN NAIR

Ravi Gopalan Nair was born in Nedumangad, Trivandrum to a large and interesting family. His father was the first person to bring black and white photography to their village, and Ravi began his journey in the photo studio. As a youth, he met many interesting people from different fields – artists, activists, and they would all gather at his studio to engage various issues.

He experienced many local theatre forms that Kerala is so rich in in the course of his life, and engaged further when his elder brother Venuji sent him to Chengannur to observe the Padayani tradition. His curious and dedicated nature exposed him to many learnings at the Louba Shield’s Kathakali school. It was also the place where he met the great traditional architect Shakuni Achari from whom he learned wood craft. In a quest to revive Pavakathakali, glove puppet theatre, he would visit small families who preserved remnants of this dying tradition. Venue’s survey had revealed only three such families. Raviji learned to make glove puppets under a project co-created by Venuji and Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay.

After Chengannur, Venuji sent him to Irinjalakuda, where he stayed for many years to know more about the local Kudiyattam theatre. There he met Walter Puff, who asked him to join his research project. He went on to France to join a project using Grotowski’s theatre technique.

Ravi returned to India with the support of Eberhart Fischer, the german Art Historian, and on a scholarship, traveled across Kerala to understand and promote folk theatre. It was during one of his sojourns that he met Pepita Seth, with whom he went on to work as a translator for a while.

After he had returned to Trivandrum, he was well known as a trainer and coach, and his expertise was in treating every single person differently, with minimum interference so that individual bodies could find their optimum balance and growth and flourish accordingly. It was in this role that he met Mousumi Parial, whom he went on to marry, whence she took the name Parvathy Baul.

Together, they co-created many projects. He would carve the woodcuts that she would paint. He would enact glove puppet theatre which she would score with her music.

Raviji created 17 masks and a full set of puppets, most of which are now exhibited in the Ethnographic Museum of Geneva. He took theatre art forms from Kerala and Baul to many international festivals. Raviji specialised in preparing artists for different stages and eventualities. He ensured mental strength that would bring peace in a high-pressure International festival just as much as a local ritual setting without expectations of being treated as a different person because of a high profile.

In 1997, Raviji and Parvathyji cofounded Ekathara Kalari, and started exhibiting Baul in Trivandrum through the Baul festival from 2000. They traveled the interiors of Kerala with the art form and also took it to many festivals across the world.

Raviji’s present phase is a time of resting and he says that the next steps cannot be predicted. He intends to create more masks, emphasising that the process can only be successful when it is meaningful, and that it will manifest spontaneously. He now undertakes his practice at the Ekathara Kalari in Nedumangad, Trivandrum.

ABOUT RAVI GOPALAN NAIR

Ravi Gopalan Nair was born in Nedumangad, Trivandrum to a large and interesting family. His father was the first person to bring black and white photography to their village, and Ravi began his journey in the photo studio. As a youth, he met many interesting people from different fields – artists, activists, and they would all gather at his studio to engage various issues.

He experienced many local theatre forms that Kerala is so rich in in the course of his life, and engaged further when his elder brother Venuji sent him to Chengannur to observe the Padayani tradition. His curious and dedicated nature exposed him to many learnings at the Louba Shield’s Kathakali school. It was also the place where he met the great traditional architect Shakuni Achari from whom he learned wood craft. In a quest to revive Pavakathakali, glove puppet theatre, he would visit small families who preserved remnants of this dying tradition. Venue’s survey had revealed only three such families. Raviji learned to make glove puppets under a project co-created by Venuji and Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay.

After Chengannur, Venuji sent him to Irinjalakuda, where he stayed for many years to know more about the local Kudiyattam theatre. There he met Walter Puff, who asked him to join his research project. He went on to France to join a project using Grotowski’s theatre technique.

Ravi returned to India with the support of Eberhart Fischer, the german Art Historian, and on a scholarship, traveled across Kerala to understand and promote folk theatre. It was during one of his sojourns that he met Pepita Seth, with whom he went on to work as a translator for a while.

After he had returned to Trivandrum, he was well known as a trainer and coach, and his expertise was in treating every single person differently, with minimum interference so that individual bodies could find their optimum balance and growth and flourish accordingly. It was in this role that he met Mousumi Parial, whom he went on to marry, whence she took the name Parvathy Baul.

Together, they co-created many projects. He would carve the woodcuts that she would paint. He would enact glove puppet theatre which she would score with her music.

Raviji created 17 masks and a full set of puppets, most of which are now exhibited in the Ethnographic Museum of Geneva. He took theatre art forms from Kerala and Baul to many international festivals. Raviji specialised in preparing artists for different stages and eventualities. He ensured mental strength that would bring peace in a high-pressure International festival just as much as a local ritual setting without expectations of being treated as a different person because of a high profile.

In 1997, Raviji and Parvathyji cofounded Ekathara Kalari, and started exhibiting Baul in Trivandrum through the Baul festival from 2000. They traveled the interiors of Kerala with the art form and also took it to many festivals across the world.

Raviji’s present phase is a time of resting and he says that the next steps cannot be predicted. He intends to create more masks, emphasising that the process can only be successful when it is meaningful, and that it will manifest spontaneously. He now undertakes his practice at the Ekathara Kalari in Nedumangad, Trivandrum.