The Company
The Mahabharata is a Hindu story. Kattaikkuttu is a Hindu theatre. Many Kattaikkuttu performances are held in honour of the Goddess. Sometimes the Goddess is called Draupadi or Draupadi amman (Mother Draupadi). This is also the name the heroine of the Mahabharata.

Villages organize Mahabharata or Draupadi Festivals during the summer when it is very hot and dry to worship the Goddess Draupadi and ask for rain. Kattaikkuttu is performed on the last ten days of these very long festivals.

The Goddess has a lot of power. She should never be neglected. Rituals are needed to pacify her and keep her happy. During a play the power of the Goddess is freed. Actors and spectators may fall into trance during important moments of the performance. This is beautiful, but also a little bit frightening. For this reason Kattaikkuttu-actors need knowledge about religion.

Kattaikkuttu knows many other rituals. During a festival for the Goddess Draupadi one of the actors climbs a huge pole. The pole symbolises a ladder or mountain leading into heaven. According to the story, the actor who climbs the pole has to go to heaven to meet his father, the God Shiva, and ask him for a powerful weapon. This weapon will help him and his four brothers to win the big Mahabharata war.
On the last day of a Draupadi festival a big statue of coloured sand is made. Here the final fight between Duryodhana and his enemy, Bhima, takes place. The statue is that of the King Duryodhana, who will be killed during the battle.

After Duryodhana has been defeated and the war is over, people from the village - men and women who have vowed to do so - walk on fire to cleanse themselves and the village.