At 70′ Padma Shri ‘Peruvanam Kuttan Marar’ has lead the rhythm ensembles in nearly 84 temple festivals and over 300 melams every year


Padma Shri, ‘Peruvanam Kuttan Marar’ is a chenda artist. He leads several popular traditional orchestra performances in Kerala. He has received the prestigious Padma Shri, India’s third highest civilian award, in 2011 for his contributions in the field of art.

Birth name : M Sankara Narayanan  

Born : 25 November 1953 (age 69) Peruvanam, Thrissur, Kerala, India 

Occupation(s)  : Percussion Artist

Instrument(s)  : Chenda  

Years active  : 1963–present 

Peruvanam Kuttan Marar was born to a family of chenda artists in Peruvanam, Thrissur, Kerala.

His grandfather, Peruvanam Narayana Marar and his father, Peruvanam Appu Marar were also well-known chenda artists.

His teachers include his father, Kumarapuram Appu Marar and Sreenarayanapuram Appu Marar. He made his debut with Chenda at the age of 10.

He performed at festivals in nearby temples including Peruvanam Mahadeva Temple.

He also joined as a clerk in C N N Boys’ High School, Cherpu at the age of 20  Being part of a family of chenda (traditional percussion instrument of Kerala) artists, it was no wonder that young Peruvanam Kuttan Marar grew up to become one of the greatest musicians of his time.  His tutelage began under his father Peruvanam Appu Marar, at the age of 10. 

Kumarapuram Appu Marar taught him thayambaka and kelikkottu in Chenda. Sreenarayanapuram Appu Marar was his guru in melapadam and purappadu of Kathakali.

He also mastered edakka at the sopanam of temples and as a participant during the panchavadyam ensembles.

Soon, with dedication and sincere efforts, Peruvanam Kuttan Marar mastered all types of melams:

Chamba, chembada, anchadantha, adantha and druvam; besides the familiar panchari and pandi melams.

He went on to become the melapramani (chief conductor of melams) for festivals at Guruvayoor, Peruvanam, Arattupuzha, Irinjalakkuda, Thripunithura, etc. 

Today, the name Peruvanam Kuttan Marar is synonymous with the development of rhythm music in Kerala.

He now leads the rhythm ensembles in nearly 84 temple festivals and is the chief conductor for over 300 melams every year.  

Each year hundreds of thousands of devotees visit the Thrissur Pooram to savour the rhythm of the

Elanjithara Melam, undoubtedly the most magnificent traditional percussion ensemble in the world.

For the last 12 years, Peruvanam has been the Pramani (chief) leading the group of 250 artists of various instruments like drums (chenda), pipe, cymbals and horns.

With spellbinding technical perfection, sheer discipline and pure symphony of rhythms, the Elanjithara Melam has no parallel.

Endowed with national recognition on being the recipient of the Padma Shri in the year 2011 for his contributions in the field of art, Peruvanam Kuttan Marar has been a part of innumerous prestigious performances such as the Bharath Festival in the USSR (1987) representing Kerala; Republic day parades in New Delhi in 1986 and 1987; international film festivals, tourism festivals, Kerala Kalamandalam Jubilee

Festival, Golden Jubilee Festival of Kerala Piravi, Bhasamaholsavam, Samskarikolsavam, Kochi-Muziris Biennale and many others.

Kuttan Marar features in prominent temple festivals of Kerala including Thrissur Pooram, Peruvanam pooram, Kollam Pooram and those at Guruvayur Temple.

He leads the famous Ilanjithara Melam of Thrissur Pooram. Kuttan Marar started performing at the Ilanjithara Melam from 1977 and has been its Pramani since 1999

List of temples where Peruvanam Kuttan Marar has performed :

Puthucode Bhaghavathy temple , Puthur Thirupuraikal Bhagavathy Temple, Panangad Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple, Thripunithura Poornathrayeesa temple, Vaikom Mahadeva temple, Guruvayur temple, Pallathamkullangara Bhagavathy temple, Ernakulam, Ilankunnapuzha temple, Ernakulam.

In addition to : Kuttanelloor temple, Thrissur, Manalaarukaavu temple, Thrissur, Puzhakkarakkavu temple., MoovattupuzhaParamekkavu temple,Vadakkumnathan temple Cherpu Bagavathi temple, Cherpu,  Thamarakulangara temple, Tripunithura,  Kottaram Bhagavathy temple. Maradu,  Ernakulam temple  , Peruvanam temple,  Aarattupuzha temple, Chinakathoor temple,  Malliyoor Sree Maha Ganapathy Temple,   Irinjalakuda temple, Kodunthirapully Durgasthami & Mahanavami Navaratri Fest, Palakkad, Cherpulasshery Bhagavathy temple, Paliam Siva Temple , Sree Mahadheva Temple, Rajakkad, Pilakkad Sree Ramankulangara Ayyappa Temple, Thiruvarppu Sree Krishna Swamy temple, Kottayam. Mannuthrukkovil Mahavishnu temple, Pullazhy, Thrissur

Awards recieved : 

Padma Shri award in 2011, Keli Melasooryan Award 2012 , Sangeetha Nataka Academy Fellowship 2012, Pallavoor Puraskaram 2012,  Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Fellowship in 2010, Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi Award 2001,  Veerashringhala 2000,  Arattupuzha Sri Sastha Award, Sri Guruvayurappan Award Keli’s promising Artist Award 1999, Keli’s Golden Conch 2005, Keli’s Lifetime achievement Award 2009 , Kala Darpana Award  14Nada Purnathrayee Award Adaraneeyam Award, Mela Kala Chakravarti, Vadyotama Award.

Courtesy : In Coversation with the well known Percussion Artist – Peruvanam Kuttan Marar at Peruvanam, Thrissur, Kerala, India on his 70th Birthday.