arts & culture

Kerala has many traditional art forms. Kerala is rich in its culture. The various art forms are introduced below.


The Kathakali dance is a blend of color,music,expressions and dance. Expressions include ‘Navarasangal’ (Nine Expressions) like ‘Athbudam’(wonder),‘Beebhatsam’(disgust),‘Bayanakam’(fear),‘Hasyam’(humour),‘Karunam’(pathos), ‘Roudram’(anger),’Santham’(peace), ‘Sringaram’(amour),’ Veeram’(valour).


This is a classical art form from Kerala which originated in 16 th century. Mohiniyattom means dance of enchantress. It has a mesmerizing effect with the half white costume with golden zari work with golden ornaments. The eyes play an important role in accenting the direction of the movement. It is performed with highly graceful movements with medium tempo which contributes to this aesthetic effect.


The art form was created by Kalakkathu Kunchan Nambiar. In 18 th century. This is a solo performance combining dance and recitation. Thullal is the explication of a tale - normally drawn from the puranas, narrated in verse. This art form is represented in a humorous and satiric mode.


The dance performers (twelve to twenty four dancers) move in a circle, tapping two-feet long wooden sticks and keeping rhythm with special steps. The circle expands and contracts as the dance progress. The accompanying music gradually rises in pitch and the dance reaches its climax.


Koodiyattam is the earliest classical dramatic art form of Kerala. Koodiyattam literally means "acting together". Koodiyattam used to be a combined dance drama conducted by the Chakkiyars and Nangiars. Mizhavu is the major musical instrument used in Koodiyattam.


The word ' margam' means 'path'. Margamkali is a very ancient and the most popular artistic performance prevalent among the Syrian Christians of Kerala. The dance is performed moving in a circle around a lighted oil lamp. Musical instruments is not accompanied with the song.


Chavittu Nadakam is a colorful Syrian Christian classical art form originated from Kerala. The stories are mostly the heroic episodes of Bible or great Christian warriors. It is noted for its elaborate costumes, their attractive makeup of characters and well-defined body movements presented in a tune with rhythmic playback music.


Thiruvathirakali is mainly performed by eight women in order to attain everlasting marital bliss. Lasya is the main element in this art form. Women decorate themselves with jasmine flowers and gold ornaments and the dance is performed around a nilavilakku (a ceremonial lamp) or a floral decoration especially during Onam. The dancers move in a circular pattern, accompanied by rhythmic clapping of the hands, to the tune of the Thiruvathira pattu.


Daffumuthu is also known as Arbanamuttu. The name is attributed to the use of an instrument called duff or tap. Daff is a round percussion instrument with one side covered with hide and is used to produce rhythm. The leader of the performers, sings the lead and others form the chorus and move in circles with excellent steps. The songs are often tributes to martyrs, heroes and saints.


Theyyam also known as Kaliyattam is one of the most popular folk arts of Kerala. This is a ritual dance performed to glorify the goddess Kaali. The term 'Theyyam' is supposed to be the corrupt form of the Malayalam word ' Daivam', meaning God.


Kalaripayattu, the ethnic martial art form of Kerala could be described as a spiritual journey that enables you to discover your soul through your body. In order to master the defending, attacking and counter attacking system of Kalaripayattu, highest degree of physical flexibility, concentration of mind, alertness of all the five senses and even the presence of a sixth sense is needed. Kalaripayattu makes you the master of your own body, mind and soul.


Oppana is a bridal group dance performed the day before the wedding day of the Muslims. Oppana is presented by eight young ladies of the bride with bride sitting at the center. The major attraction of the performance is the clapping of the hands in a rhythemic movement along with the oppana pattu.The bride is the center of the performance.


Panchavadyam means an orchestra of five instruments. They are timila, madalam, ilathalam, idakka and kombu. A panchavadyam is anchored and led by the timila artist at the centre of his band of instrumentalists, with ilathalam players behind them. Opposite to them stands the maddalam players and behind them the kompu players. Idakka players, usually totalling two, stand on both sides separating the timila and maddalam line-up. A major panchavadyam will have artistes totalling around 60.


Pullu means `bird of omen`. It also means a person who can predict from the sound of birds. The songs sung by Pulluvan are concerned with worship, custom, ritual and exorcism. Pulluvar use certain musical instruments like pulluvan veena, pulluvan kutam and thaalam. Pulluvar themselves make the instruments. Hollow bamboo stick, wood shell and the brass wire makes the Pulluvan Veena. Through the small pice of bamboo arrow the Veena is played.

Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur Pooram celebrated in the Malayalam month of Medom (April-May) is a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses in and around Thrissur. These Gods and Goddesses make their visit to the Vadakumnathan Temple premises on caparisoned elephants accompanied by grand ensembles of Chenda melam and pancha vadyam. The pooram is 36 hour long. The main attractions are Kudamattam and Vedikettu which provides a real festival to eyes, ears and mind


Onam is one of the major festival of Keralites. It is believed that the great Raja Mahabali visits his people on ThiruOnam day. The major attractions of the day are pookkalam, vallamkali, onapattu, oonjalattam and the traditional sadya with payasam.

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