According to Kerala Tourism, Nokkuvidya Pavakkali demands strenuous training. “This puppetry form requires the performer to balance puppets on the upper lip and manage the movements with constant gaze and by controlling the strings,” they write.
Patience and concentration hold the key for mastering this unique art form, and this often has dissuaded many to opt out from learning the art form, says Ms Pankajakshi.
Moozhikkal Pankajakshi, a 70-year-old lady from Kerala is preserving the traditional art form of puppetry – Nokkuvidhya Pavakalli. She will be recognized with Padma Shri for her contribution. #PeoplesPadma #PadmaAwards2020 pic.twitter.com/soPY5qYiYF
— MyGovIndia (@mygovindia) January 25, 2020
For five centuries, Moozhikkal Pankajakshi’s ancestors have practiced Nokkuvidya Pavakkali in Kerala. Since the age of 8, she has been carrying on their legacy by performing this indigenous puppet theater form across India and the world. The 81-year-old is credited with preserving a traditional art form that is today under the threat of extinction.
According to The Hindu, Ms Pankajakshi learnt this form of puppetry from her parents, who used to perform in houses and temples. She also credits her husband, Sivarama Panikker, for transforming her into a noted artiste of Nokkuvidya Pavakkali.
Ms Pankajakshi stopped performing a few years ago after she lost her front teeth, which left her unable to balance the puppets. According to Kerala Tourism, she keeps her doors open for those interested in learning Nokkuvidya Pavakkali.
Moozhikkal Pankajakshi – A 70-year-old lady from Kerala , preserving the traditional art form of puppetry – Nokkuvidhya Pavakalli.
Since the age of 8, she has performed across Kerala, India and the world.
#PadmaAwards2020 @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/RnqZ2TkB6C
— Mann Ki Baat Updates (@mannkibaat) January 27, 2020