Mohiniyattam, also spelled Mohiniattam is a classical dance form from Kerala, India. Believed to have originated in 16th century , it is one of the eight Indian classical dance forms recognised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It is considered a very graceful form of dance meant to be performed as solo recitals by women.

Mohiniyattam was popularised as a popular dance form in the nineteenth century by Swathi Thirunal, the Maharaja of the state of Travancore (Southern Kerala), and Vadivelu, one of the Thanjavur Quartet. Swathi Thirunal promoted the study of Mohiniyattam during his reign, and is credited with the composition of many music arrangements and vocal accompaniments that provide musical background for modern Mohiniyattam dancers. The noted Malayalam poet Vallathol, who established the Kerala Kalamandalam dance school in 1930, played an important role in popularizing Mohiniattam in the 20th century. The term Mohiniyattam comes from the words "Mohini" meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and "aattam" meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word "Mohiniyattam" literally means "dance of the enchantress". There are two stories of the Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini. In one, he appears as Mohini to lure the asuras (demons) away from the amrita (nectar of immortality) obtained during the churning of the palazhi (ocean of milk and salt water). In the second story Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva from the demon Bhasmasura. The name Mohiniyattam may have been coined after Lord Vishnu; the main theme of the dance is love and devotion to God, with usually Vishnu or Krishna being the hero. Devadasis used to perform this in temples. It also has elements of Koothu and Kottiyattom. Mohiniyattam is a drama in dance and verse.


Bharata Natyam also spelled Bharatanatyam, is a classical Indian dance form that originated in the temples of Tamil Nadu. This dance form denotes various 19th- and 20th-century reconstructions of Sadir, the art of temple dancers called Devadasis. It was described in the treatise Natya Shastra by Bharata around the beginning of the common era. Bharata Natyam is known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. Lord Shiva is considered the God of this dance form. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by male and female dancers all over the world.
In ancient times it was performed as dasiattam by mandira (Hindu temple) Devadasis. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures karanas. In fact, it is the celestial dancers, apsaras, who are depicted in many scriptures dancing the heavenly version of what is known on earth as Bharata Natyam. In the most essential sense, a Hindu deity is a revered royal guest in his temple/abode, to be offered the "sixteen hospitalities" - among which are music and dance, pleasing to the senses. Thus, many Hindu temples traditionally maintained complements of trained musicians and dancers, as did Indian rulers.

In Kali Yuga, the center of most arts in India is Bhakti (devotion) and therefore, Bharata Natyam as a dance form and carnatic music set to it are deeply grounded in Bhakti. Bharata Natyam, it is said, is the embodiment of music in visual form, a ceremony, and an act of devotion. Dance and music are inseparable forms; only with Sangeetam (words or syllables set to raga or melody) can dance be conceptualized. Bharata Natyam has three distinct elements to it: Nritta (rhythmic dance movements), Natya (mime, or dance with a dramatic aspect), and Nritya (combination of Nritta and Natya).

Tamil Nadu, especially Tanjore, has always been the seat and centre of learning and culture. It was the famous quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798–1824) which made a rich contribution to music and Bharata Natyam and also completed the process of re-editing the Bharata Natyam programme into its present shape with its various forms like the Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Sabdham, Varnam, Tillana etc. The descendants of these four brothers formed the original stock of Nattuvanars or dance teachers of Bharata Natyam in Tanjore.

OttamthullalOttam Thullal

Ottamthullal is a form of performance art from Kerala state, India. It was introduced in the 1700s by Kunchan Nambiar, one of the Prachina Kavithrayam (three famous Malayalam language poets). It is accompanied by a mridangam or an idakka
Ottamthullal has its origins in the classical principles of Natya Shastra, a treatise on art originating in the 2nd century B.C. The word Thullal means to jump or leap about in the Dravidian languages. Tradition has it that Nambiar, the poet, fell asleep while playing the mizhavu for a Chakyar Koothu performance, inviting ridicule from the chakyar. In response, Nambiar developed Ottamthullal, which parodied prevalent sociopolitical questions and regional prejudices. The chakyar complained about Nambiar's production to the king of Chembakassery. The king banned performances of Ottamthullal from the Ambalapuzha temple complex. Closely related art forms are Seethankan thullal and Parayan thullal. Mathur Panikkar popularized Ottamthullal for modern audiences. Ottamthullal competitions are held[4] and the art form may be used to spread a social message. In Ottamthullal, a solo performer, with green makeup and a colourful costume (decorated with a long red and white band and painted wooden ornaments), acts and dances while reciting dance Thullal (lyrics). A chorus or one artist or more, repeats each sentence as it is completed. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru likened Ottamthullal to a poor man's Kathakali. More recently, Ottamthullal has been performed with a solo female actor and with an ensemble cast. Nambiar parodies landlords and other prominent citizens. For example, the character of Bhima from the epic the Mahabharata is portrayed as an oaf. Higher castes including Brahmin were not spared.


Oppana (Malayalam: ഒപ്പന) is a popular form of social entertainment among the Mappila (Kerala Muslim's) community of Kerala, south India, prevalent all over kerala especially in Malappuram. The Malayalam word Oppana Pattu is the derivation of Tamil word 'Oppanai Pattu'. In Tamil 'Oppanai' means make up. Oppana was originated on the occasion of make of Muslim brides. Now Oppana has been extinct in Tamil Nadu. But in Kerala this art form has been revived with much popularity in performing stages of Youth Festivals of student community. Oppana, a dance form among the Mappila community

Oppana is generally presented by females, numbering about fifteen including musicians, on a wedding day. The bride dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments and her palms and feet adorned with an intricately woven pattern of mylanchi (henna), sits amidst the circle of dancers. She is the chief spectator sitting on a peetam (chair), around which the singing and dancing take place. While they sing, they clap their hands rhythmically and move around the bride using simple steps. Two or three girls begin the songs and the rest join in chorus.

Sometime Oppana is also presented by males to entertain the bridegroom. It usually takes place just before the bridegroom leaves for the bride's residence where the Nikah (marriage) takes place or at the time he enters the Maniyara.

Harmonium, Tabla, Ganjira and Elathaalam are the musical instruments employed for this performance. Only the Mappilapaattu will be sung on the occasion.

margamkaliMargam Kali

Margamkali is a group dance of Kerala practiced by ancientSaint Thomas Christians (also known as Syrian Christians or Nasrani) who trace their origins to the evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle among Jews and natives in the 1st century. "Margam" means path or way or solution in Malayalam, but in the religious context it is known as the path to attain salvation. The process of conversion to Christianity was known as "Margam Koodal" until recently in Kerala.Much of this folk art is woven around the mission of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The original Margam Kali describes the arrival of St. Thomas in Malabar, the miracles he performed, the friendship as well as the hostility of the people among whom he worked, the persecution he suffered, the churches and crosses he put up in various places, etc. These details are incorporated in the various stanzas of the Margam Kali songs. Kerala's Margam Kali is an important element in the age-old and hallowed tradition of St Thomas among the Syrian Christians of Malabar Coast. The disparity between the present condition of this form and the early days leads one to assume three important phases in the history of Margamkali. The first phase was the pre-colonization one in which this semi-theatrical form was performed by the Saint Thomas Christians during special occasions. That time Parichamuttu Kali (The sword and shield dance) was a part of it. Later Synod of Diamper curbed and suppressed this native form. During the last seventeenth century, due to the efforts of a Southist priest Itti Thomman Kathanar, the textual part of this form got certain upliftment and care.


Theyyam (Teyyam, Theyyattam or Thira) is a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu area (consisting of present-day Kasargod, Kannur Districts, Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad and Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode of Kerala) and also in Kodagu and Tulu nadu of Karnataka as a living cult with several thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs. The performers of Theyyam belong to the lower class community, and have an important position in Theyyam. They are also known as 'malayanmar'.People of these districts consider Theyyam itself as a God and they seek blessings from this Theyyam. A similar custom is followed in the Tulu Nadu region of neighbouring Karnataka known as Bhuta Kola.

"There can be no doubt", say Bridget and Raymond Alchin, "that a very large part of this modern folk religion is extremely ancient and contains traits which or"pandaram"iginated during the earliest periods of Neolithic, Chalcolithic settlement and expression" mainly there is no doubt, giving from fremin.
It can be said that all the prominent characteristics of primitive, tribal, religious worship had widened the stream of Theyyam cult, where "even the followers of Islam are associated with the cult in its functional aspect" and made it a deep-rooted folk religion of millions. For instance, the cult of Bhagawathi, the Mother Goddesses had and still has an important place in Theyyam. Besides this, the practices like spirit-worship, ancestor-worship, hero-worship, masathi-worship, tree-worship, animal worship, serpent-worship, the worship of the Goddesses of disease and the worship of Graamadevataa (Village-Deity) are included in the main stream of the Theyyam cult. Along with these Gods and Goddesses there exist innumerable folk Gods and Goddesses. Most of these Goddesses are known as Bhagavathy (the Mother-Goddess that is the Divine and United form of the three principal Goddesses namely, Brahmani (Saraswati), Vaishnavi (Lakshmi), and Shivani (Durga)).

Thirayaattam, a ritual dance-drama is performed as part of festival celebrations in Kaavus, temples of the Goddess, in Kozhikode and Malappuram Districts of Kerala.One can note a vast difference between Theyyam and Thira in their rituals, Kolams, costumes, make-up, performances etc. Thira is the chief sub division of Theyyam, and so the whole perfomance is also called Theyyam-Thira. It represents a legendary social figure and deplicts its heroic exploits. Thira is a whole in itself regarding its theme and is usually presented before the main event. The perfomers of Thira, through appropriate costumes,assume the roles of the divinities they hold in veneration. The dance, to the accompaniment of indigenous instruments, takes place only at night,illuminated by torchers made of clusters of dried coconut fronds.



The word Thiram means “radiance” or ‘lustre’, and the Thirayaattam is said to cast radiance or lustre by virtue of his gorgeous array, made all the more dazzling by the blaze of the torches.
When a Thirayaattam dancer puts on the intended garb, he becomes a kolam. Kolams of Siva or his manifestations like Kariyattan,Ghantakarna, Bhairava, Karivilli, and Karumakan, or of Kaali as Bhagavathi, Bhadrakaali, Bhairavi, Otakaali, Naagakaali, and Rakteswari are of primary importance. Apart from these,there are some minor characters, including a few in animal form; a minkey usually accompanies the Kolam of Bhairava and a house is the mount of Vatiman. In Thirayaattam, make-up, perhaps better described as the painting of designs on the face and body, is a very elaborate process and almost a ritual in itself. The most outstanding element of the make-up is the mashi, a blacking for the eyes, prepared with great reverence, In no other theatre art of Kerala is the pigment for the eyes given such importance. The colours used for painting are white, black, red and yellow. Before submitting himself to the make-up artists, the performer ceremonially ties a piece of cloth round his head. In the dressing-room he then lies down, fully stretched. One expert attends to his face while two others, one on either side, see to the painting of the body, primarily to the chest. The artist doing the face has some freedom to innovate, but designs for the body must not differ in the slightest from the set delineation. The painting is not a solid colour but has designs wrought with fine brushes made from palm leaves. Crowns, where used, are of wood, perked up with coloured paper, peacock feathers and silk. Masks, though few, are mads of palm leaves and the bark of the arecanut tree; in each case. When a mark is used, it is of no consequence after the performance, and is merely thrown away.


Mudiyett or Mudiyettu is a traditional ritual theatre and folk dance drama from Kerala that enacts the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. The ritual is a part of the bhagavathi or bhadrakali cult. The dance is performed by a set of people known as Kuruppanmar and is performed in temples called 'Bhagvati Kavus', the temples of the Mother Goddess, between February and May after the harvesting season. In 2010 Mudiyettu was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, becoming the second art form from Kerala after Koodiyattam.
Mudiyett is a village ritual performed by members of the Marar and Kuruppu communities in Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki districts of Kerala. However, the entire community contributes to and participates in it. Mudiyettu is performed annually in ‘Bhagavati Kavus’, the temples of the goddess, in different villages along the rivers Chalakkudy Puzha, Periyar and Moovattupuzha

There's no rehearsal or preparation involved in playing Kali. The performance is a natural progression from Lord Shiva, Narada, demons Danavan and Darikan to Kali. A complete Mudiyettu performance requires a total of 16 persons— including percussionists, Kalamezhuthu artists, vocalists. There are also evident regional differences in the attire and performance styles of Mudiyettu. Thus, in the Koratty style, Kali exhibits a bare torso, covered only by a breast-shaped plank while in the Keezhillam and the Pazhoor styles, she wears a full upper body dress. Similarly, in the Koratty style, Darika's mudi resembles the Kathakali crown and his face paint the Kathi Veshas of Kathakali. This points to how the two forms have become interlinked even though Mudiyettu predates Kathakali, with epigraphists tracing its evolution as an art to even the 9th or 10th century AD





Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art. One of the oldest fighting systems in existence, it is now practiced in Kerala, in contiguous parts of Tamil Nadu and among the Malayali community of Malaysia. It was originally practiced in northern and central parts of Kerala and the Tulunadu region of Karnataka.

Kalaripayattu includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods. Regional variants are classified according to geographical position in Kerala; these are the Northern style from Malabar region in north Kerala, the Central style from inner Kerala and the southern style from Travancore region of south Kerala. The southern Payattu system is now extinct and the Tamil style of "Adi Murai" is classified as the southern kalarippayattu.

The northern style was practiced in Kerala primarily by the Nairs and Yatra Brahmins, as well as the small Chekavar subcaste of the Ezhavas, some Muslims and Christians. The southern style, called Adi Murai, was practiced largely by the Nadars and similar castes; it has features distinguishing it from its other regional counterparts. Northern kalaripayattu is based on elegant and flexible movements, evasions, jumps and weapons training, while the southern "Adi Murai" style primarily follows the hard impact based techniques with priority in empty hand fighting and pressure point strikes. Both systems make use of internal and external concepts.

Some of the flexibility training methods in northern Kalaripayattu are applied in Kerala dance forms and kathakali dancers who knew martial arts were believed to be markedly better than the other performers. Some traditional Indian dance schools still incorporate kalaripayattu as part of their exercise regimen.




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