Thursday, May 14, 2009

KERALA - a r t - Forms




INTRODUCTION
Kerala, a picturesque beauty surrounded by lush greenery, is inextricably linked with tradition, and is endowed with a rich heritage and a lavish history. Kerala is interlocked between the Arabian sea on the West and the Western Ghats on the East, thus secluding it from the other states. This seclusion has shielded Kerala from the political or cultural transitions anywhere else in the country. Hence the performing arts of the state have developed special characteristics. Over the years, various clans and ethnic groups have influenced the culture of Kerala. The Aryans inhabited it first and were later joined by the Jains, the Buddhists and the Brahmins.
Cultural invasions led to the blending of various art forms. Koodiyattam for e.g, is a fusion of the local Dravidian culture and some Aryan influences. Krishnanattam, Kathakali, Thullal, Mohiniattam etc, are some of the local dances that arose out of the fusion. The Mudiyettu is the earliest form of a ritualistic theatre surviving in Kerala and all later, more mature forms, such as the Koodiyattam, Krishnanattam and Kathakali, took their cue from this. The theme is the defeat of the demon Darika, who was terrorising the world, by the Goddess Bhadrakali. The famous pantomime dance-drama, Kathakali, the Sopana style of music, the contributions of Swathi Thirunal and Raja Ravi Varma in the realms of music and painting respectively are some of Kerala’s unique contributions which have enriched the cultural heritage of India.
Kerala’s folk music, though not refined, is rich with a rugged beauty that is really genuine, with its rhyme and rhythm. These are mostly devotional in nature, like the Sarpapattu, Bhadrakalipattu, Ayyappanpattu etc. The Thullalpattu demands the skill and artistry of a professional. Among the instrumental performances, Thayampaka, Panchavadyam and Kelikottu deserve special mention. The chenda, and chengala are some of the typical percussion instruments of Kerala.
For the lover of dance, drama and music, Kerala is heaven. You have scores of art forms, which are quite unique in nature to Kerala, like Kathakali, Ottamthullal, Chakyar Koothu, Krishnanattam, Padayani, Pavakathakali, Theyyam, Velakali, Thiruvathirakali, Kolkali etc.


VADYAM & SANGEETHAM
Chenda
A double headed cylinder drum, played usually with sticks. This drum is very important in Kerala. It's the chief accompaniment in Kathakali, the classical dance form, and the most important instrument played in temple festivals.
Known as Chenda Melam, the quintessentially Kerala music, featuring as many as a hundred loud, hard-skinned, cylindrical chenda drums, crashing cymbals and wind instruments, mesmerizes the crowd while its structure marks the progress of the procession. The melam passes through four phases of tempo, each a double of the last, from a majestic dead slow through to a frenetic pace.
Madhalam
References to Madhalam date back to the 13th century. It is considered to be a divine instrument, due to its inclusion as a major accompaniment in the dance of Shiva. Maddalam is a barrel shaped, double headed hand drum. There are two types: one is smaller and is worn around the neck, the larger one is tied onto the waist with a cloth.
Thimila
Udhakka

Edakkha
Edakka can be used not only as a vadya instrument, but it is also possible to generate all the ragas . When edakka is used in the Panchavadyam the laya is lost.

MUSIC

Music like dancing, had its origin in the primitive dances and plays, developed by the ancient people in propitiation of the deities of the hills and forests. The development of such art forms as Kuthu Kudiyattam, Astapadi Attan, Krishnanattam, Ramanattam, Kathakali etc., gave a fillup to music in later days. An indigenous classical music called the Sopanasangita developed itself in the temples of Kerala, in the wake of the increasing popularity of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda or Ashtapadi. The Kathakali padas composed by scholars like Irayimman Thampi and the Tullal songs of Kunjan Nambiar also enriched the musical culture of Kerala.

The reign of Swati Tirunal, the ruler of Travancore, is called "the Augustan Age of Kerala Music". A great patron of music, he attracted to his court some of the gifted musicians of the age. In collaboration with his Guru Meruswami who was well-versed in Hindustani and Karnatic music, Swati Tirunal composed a number of songs in popular ragas in a variety of languages. Four musicians from Tanjore by name Vativelu, Ponnayya, Chinnayya and Sivanandan, otherwise known as the "Tanjore Quartet", lived in his court. To Vativelu goes the credit for the introduction of violin in Karnatic music. The Tanjore brothers were also highly gifted in Bharata Natyam and under their influence Swati Tirunal composed Varnas, Swarajits, Padas and Tillanas for staging this dance form. Subbukkutty Ayya, a master of Veena, was also leading light in Swati's court.
In addition to the musicians mentioned above who came to Swati's court from outside Kerala, several gifted local musicians also enjoyed his patronage, the most celebrated among them being Shadkala Govinda Marar. Marar was a rare musical prodigy. He devised a Tamburu with seven strings instead of the usual four. He also achieved the unique distinction of being able to sing pallavis into six degrees of time and this won for him the title Shadkala. At Swati Tirunal's instance, Marar went on a futile mission to Tiruvayyur to fetch Tyagaraja to the royal court. Tyagaraja was so much impressed by an inspired musical performance of Govinda Marar at the place that he composed and sang on the spot that famous Telugu song "Entaro mahanubhavalu, Anstariki Vandanamu" (There are ever so many great men in this world and I bow to all of them). Two other Kerala musicians who adorned Swati's court were Paramesware Bhagavatar of Palakkad and Maliyakkal Krishna Marar. Irayimman Tampi, a close associate of Swati Tirunal, was also a musician and composer of high calibre who lived in the royal court and collaborated with the Maharaja in his efforts to promote the cause of cultural development.
The tradition of Kerala in the field of music has continued unsullied in modern times. To the galaxy of modern Kerala musicians belong such stalwarts as Vina Kalyanakrishna Bhagavatar, Kathakalashepam Anantarama Bhagavatar, Palghat Mani and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar who have substantially enriched Karnatic music by their valuable contributions.
Kerala has developed its own typical temple arts in which instrumental music plays an important part. Chenda Melam which is played with such instruments as Chenda, Kombu, Kuzhal etc., is a feature of all temple utsavams. Tayambaka which involves the elaborate display of talas on a classical piece of drum (Chenda) is also typical of Kerala. It is performed in several sessions, each session having its climaxes and anticlimaxes. Panchavadyam is another unique art in which the sounds emanating from five musical instruments, (Maddalam, Idakka, Timila, Kombu and Elathalam) and two auxiliaries, Sankku (Conch) and Kuzhal, in varying pitches are synchronized. As in Tayambakam so too in Panchavadyam, each session lasts for hours. Nagaswaramelam, otherwise called Pandimelam, is another set of Vadyams played in connection with temple pujas and on such auspicious occasions as marriages.

Idophonic Instruments
Aramani Chandravalayam Chengala Elathalam
Thalara Kaimani Kinnam Kool
Kuzhithalam Piriyankoolu Ponthi Villu
Wind Instruments
Cheenam Kaalam Kombu Kurum Kuzhal
Kuzhal Nagarwaaram Otakkuzhal Peepi , Sankhu
Percussion Instruments
Aravana Chenda Chettivadayam Dakka
Davil Dolu Edakka Kadumthuti
Maddalam Mattaalam Mrindangam Mizhavu
Murasu Nagaari Nagaaram Para
Sudhamaddalam Tammittan Thappatta Tappu
Takil Toppi Maddalam Timila Tudi
Udukku Urumi
Stringed Instruments
Nanthuny Pullavan Kudam Pullavan Veena Tamboru , Veena
Sopana Sangeetham
Sopana Sangeetham is a very ancient form of temple music in Kerala. The word Sopana means a flight of steps leading up to the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. Devotional recitals rendered on these steps came to be known as Sopana sangeetham. Besides, the musical notes (ragas) too have an ascending (aarohana) and descending (avarohana) nature. Even though over fifty types of musical instruments can accompany Sopana sangeetham, Edakka is most commonly used.
Kathakali Sangeetham
Kathakali music belongs to the Sopana category of music which is typical of Kerala and is characteristically slow, strictly adhering to the tala (rhythm) giving full scope for abhinaya (acting). The bhagavathar or the singer plays a key role in the staging of the art form. The Bhagavathar plays a key role in a Kathakali performance. He is not just the singer, but also the manager of the entire show. Among the noted Kathakali singers of yester years are Appukuttan Bhagavathar, Thiruvilwamala (1851-1930), Ettiravi Namboothiri (1809 - 1908), Kannappa Kurup (1845 - 1921), Kunjiraman Nambisan (1871 - 1916), Kunju Podhuval (1879 - 1940) and Krishnankutty Bhagavathar. Kathakali, especially its verses and music are an enormous contribution to Malayalam literature and music. Aattakkatha, the literature part of Kathakali, forms a separate division in Malayalam literature. There are around 500 Aattakkathas and a few among them are Nalacharitham aattakkatha, Keechakavadhom aattakkatha, Dhuryodhanavadhom aattakkatha etc. Compared to others Kathakali music is more involved and complex clarifying the meanings of mudras or hand gestures, describing the context and expressing the depth of emotions enacted by the artiste.

With Kelikottu, an orchestration, the performance begins percussion music - Suddha maddalam marks the ritualistic beginning of a Kathakali performance. Two back up artistes hold up a curtain and remove it to signify the start and finish of each scene. Vocal musicians or bhagavathars standing at the corner of the stage sing, the lead singer called Ponnani bhagavathar keeps time with a resounding gong called the Chengila. He is assisted by Shankidi who plays a pair of Ilathalam (small cymbals).
Forms and Instruments
Music of Kerala is as old as her people and their culture. When it emerged out of its hoary past to become a reality, many branches of music became prominent, viz., (a) the folk music, which remained as a starch root, providing nourishment to all its off shoots, (b) the vaideeka or the sacred line of music, which later on developed into marga sangeet to dwell in the sanctum sanctorum of the Arya and Dravida temples and their traditional theatrical set ups, (c) laukeeka or the secular line which gradually became the body and spirit of desi sangeet, to prosper under the patronage of kings and the public and (d) the natya line which was nothing but the blissful imitation of the three if not their fusion, to exist in between them, initially, at the temple stages, and gradually, sections of them finding their way into the royal courts and public places, after due transformations and adjustments.
The roots and the grammar were same in all these schools and they were all governed by the basic concept called tauratrikam which denoted the harmonious blending of the triad forms of art, viz., geetam (vocal music) vadyam (instrumental music) and nrityam (dramatic dance). There were borrowing and lending among them and quite often one used to eclipse the others in prosperity and popularity. Yet, all these had separate existence and identity in terms of songs and singers, instruments and instrumentalists, aims and expressions, functions and field of activities.
In dealing with the history of the music of Kerala whether it is folk, sacred, secular or the traditional theatrical, what strikes one most is its sparkling variety, each of which, has an exhilarating charm and melody of its own. While their songs had an unadorned beauty and simplicity their music was marked by a natural freshness and melody. In their expression, mood, music and rhythm had a supreme balance and often dance joined them to give an additional charm and completeness.
The early music of Kerala, with natya line at its helm, finds an eloquent expression in the contents of the chapter called arangettru-kkadai of Chilappathikaram, one of the five great epics of the ancient Dravida literature, for which an exhaustive commentary has been supplied by Adivarkku-Nallar, its leading commentator. This music had its hey day during the dominance of jainism and buddhism in south India,
a few centuries before and after Christ. It is said to be the mirror of the music culture of the above sects, famous for their artistic achievements and organizations. As centuries moved on, these two religious systems were overpowered by Hinduism which came as a storm to uproot them. Yet, it took a few centuries for Hinduism to establish its supremacy. Though religion changed music and other arts they were not very much affected during these years except for the fact that from then onwards, the spiritual line became more prominent.
Starting as a powerful spiritual force during the early fifth century, Hinduism became a peaceful and pious discipline from the seventh century onwards. In its transformation the dedicated services of nayanars, the religious bards of saivism and aalwars, the religious bards of vaishnavism had significant roles. They preached their respective faiths through innumerable spiritual songs called thevaram, thiruvachakam etc., composed by saivites and tiruvaymozhi, composed by the vaishnavites under the tender care and kind patronage of the Cola, Cera and Pandya kings who were famous not only as patrons and masters of arts, but also as followers of the above two cults. Kulasekhara, said to be a ruler of Kerala during ninth century, was himself a great devotee of Vishnu and kala-sarva bhauma who is said to be the builder of many temples in Kerala with solid and scientific scheme of construction. The king planned and developed various ceremonies and festivals of the temples, and improved and strengthened the various institutions of the temple artists and their whole-time participation in daily rituals and festive occasions. The credit of building the koothambalams under strong and architectural principles also is said to be the brain child of this great king. A few Sanskrit plays like Tapati Samvaranam etc., to be staged at these theatres by the traditional artists called chakkiyars and nangiars have been attributed to him. There were also exchange of temple musicians, actors and dancers between Kerala and Tamil Nadu during this period.
Due to all these, from the eighth century onwards, music in Kerala, especially the religious line, got a new shape and charm which were largely in the line of the ideas and expressions of thevaram, tiruvachakam etc., of the saivites and also in the model of tiruvaymozhi etc., of the vaishnavites which were later on collected under one volume called nalayira-prabandham or dravida-veda-sagaram by Nada Muni, a famous devotee of Vishnu, poet and singer. In the words of the late R.V. Poduval, "The composers of these hymns have showed an admirable instinct for form, grace, colour, sweetness and spiritual emotions and they have left for posterity, gems of spontaneous songs, mellifluous and well balanced in diction having a delicate beauty of sound and amounting and piercing melody which goes straight into the hearts of man". Innumerable prayer songs were composed after them both in form and content by Malayali poets. The birth of manipravalam language and Malayalam script also
might have been congenial to their growth. A style of singing combining the ritualistic music of the state and the music of the oduvars, the temple singers of thevaram, and araivars, the temple singers of thiruvaymozhi developed under the name sopana. It had been so called through its association with the place known as sopanam, a place in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple from where it was sung. It has been defined as a system of music 'which is generally slow in time with notes going higher, and rising in pitch and intensity as they proceed, producing sweet melody and grace'. The music which was based on principles of tauratrikam was handled by certain traditional communities called Marar, Nambeesan, Nambiar etc., who were the counterparts of the oduvars and araiyars of Tamil Nadu. The music was heard along with its typical instruments in the temple rituals, religious festivals, traditional and theatrical productions etc., of Kerala temples, both Arya and Dravida.
The aforesaid music continued to flourish in the state for a few succeeding centuries without much changes except that it swelled in size at all levels. It was from the fourteenth century onwards that the music of Kerala experienced a new transformation as a result of the introduction of Gita Govinda the immortal Yogatmaka (spiritual) musical opera of the great poet, Jayadeva, into the land through the vaishnava preachers. It was immediately accepted by the people both at the temple, as a collection of prayer songs and style of singing and at the theatre, as a dance-drama. The overwhelming popularity of Gita Govinda both as a model for religious music and traditional dance-drama, "in many respects transmitted the musical melodies extant in the state". A new form of music modelled after the padas of Jayadeva's ashtapadi, decked in melody and mood emerged as a result, and this soon got its way into the temple, temple theatres and also at other centres. A few translations of the Sanskrit Geya drisya kavya and a few imitations like sivashtapadi etc., also came into vogue. Later on, the principles, pattern and presentation became the guiding force for the origin and development of krishnanattam, an exquisite dance drama composed by King Mana Veda. It has been said that Gita Govinda 'caused mellifluous modification on the sentiment of the music and drumming and in the elaboration of dressing. Out of the changes of the subject, sentiment and method, arose the distinctive krishnanattom which reached its fullest development in the fourteenth century'.
Krishnanattam paved the way for ramanattam and 'the general structure of kathakali (ramanattam) was more like Jayadeva's ashtapadi than anything else.'
Vira Kerala Varma, the Raja of Kottarakkara, (seventeenth century A.D.) the originator of kathakali, was a great musician and composer as is evidenced from his kathakali plays, "His melodies", remarks Poduval, "are fresh, vivid, spontaneous, impatient of restraint and full of warm imaginative feeling. He penetrates into the pictorial aspects of his songs and siezes the poetic conception within. The music of Vira Kerala Varma Raja has on the whole, a strangeness added to beauty, modelled after the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva". No wonder, from then onwards Kerala music which was hitherto dominated by the thevaram and other religious music traditions of the southern states had to adjust itself with the prominence of the natya line of music, sprung from the Gita Govinda.
Another royal musician and composer of high merit who also was in many respects, responsible for developing the music culture of the state was the great Kartika Tirunal Rama Varma who ruled Tiruvitamkur from 1758 to 1759, the royal composer of a few classical kritis in its strict sense and also the composer of many outstanding padams contained in his kathakali plays like Subhadraharanam, Bakavadham, Gandharva Vijayam, Panchali Swayamvaram, Kalyana saugandhikam etc. He was a musician and vaineeka (veenaplayer) of high repute, and his compositions, marked for their musical depth and sublimity of ideas, had in many ways raised the music standards of the state and created a new interest in public towards music. Bala Rama Bharatam, a monumental Sanskrit treatise on music, dance and dramatic techniques of Kerala, stand as a supreme testimonial to his mastery over the subject. Kartika Tirunal's time was noted for a brilliant array of music composers and other luminaries of performing arts and literature who adorned the court of the king, like Unnayi Varier 'whose compositions exhibit a wide range and variety of structural inventions and possess an imperishable richness of musical colour and audacity'.
Equally versatile was his designated successor, Aswati Tirunal (1756-1788) whom some critics judge as a better musician and composer than Kartika Tirunal, while weighing the music and literature of his kathakali like Ambareesha charitam, Pootanamoksham, Rugminee swayamvaram, Poundraka vadhom etc., and a highly scholarly and imaginative natakam called Rugminee swayamvaram, and a Geyaprabandham entitled Vancheesa sthava prabandham.
Side by side with the above line of music, the reign of Aswati Tirunal witnesses the growth of a distinct branch of music which created a new form and spirit, which by eliminating the natya element from the trial concept of sangeeta and by developing the norms of classical katcheri padhati (concert line) as propounded by Tyagaraja, its pioneer. The immortal composer and his colleagues, Muttuswami Deekshitar and Syama Sastry, whose musical idioms and schemes and their supreme compositions popularly called as kritis, took the whole of south India like a spell to which Kerala also was not an exception. Not that the Karnatic music of the pre-Trinity period which started with sage Purandara Dasa, and progressed through Kshetrajna and other prominent composers like Annamacharya and others were totally unknown in Kerala. Somehow their impact was not very prominent in the state which might be because, Kerala hitherto was concentrating mainly if not wholly, on the sacred and traditional theatrical line of music under one common style viz., sopana clothed in the tauratrika principle. As a sudden awakening against its domination and popularity, came the aforesaid excellent sastriya sangeeta padhati of the Trinity which shed the natya element and concentrated on the katcheri dharmas through a variety of songs called kritis and their thrilling procedures of expression which eclipsed the simple traits of sopana.
As a result, disciples of the Trinity started flowing over the state on invitation of the Tiruvitamkur sovereign, as state musicians or guests of honour. Their musical deliberations at the court and at public platforms made the crystallised form of music viz., kriti, and its systematic musical expression attracted many and provided models for state musicians to copy them and develop them through their own creative abilities. This new trend which started showing glimpses during the closing days of Kartika Tirunal, became known during the times of Aswati Tirunal, reached its climax during the reign of Swati Tirunal the famous musician and composer whose greatness remained and remains unchallenged till today in Kerala.
The reign of Swati Tirunal who became king even before his birth in 1817 and ascended the throne in 1833 is considered as the Golden Age of all arts not to speak of music and dance. He was a king among musicians and composer among kings. Hovering above all his predecessors through his inborn artistic and musical talents, wisdom, imagination, strict discipline and dedication, the Great Raja, within a short span of life could achieve so much, which even a brilliant array of artists and scholars together could not have achieved through ages. Besides his own attainments, the king had the rare privilege of having the best artists, composers, musicians, poets, dancers and other artists from all over India, either as his state musicians or guests of honour. Ably assisted by such brilliant contemporaries like Irayimman Tampi, Parameswara Bhagavatar, Maliyakkal Krishna Marar, Subba Rao, Ksheerabdhi Sastrikal, Vadivelu and his brothers, Ayodhya Prasad, Mukunda Ram and others, the king could raise the music of Tiruvitamkur to an ever memorable status, and greatness. The Tiruvitamkur royal court was resounding with the vocal and instrumental music of great artists of different disciplines and beaming with the colourful performances of bharata natyam, kathakali and mohiniyattom, a spectacular female solo dance which owed its entire classical shape, high discipline, moving expression, tuneful songs and suitable orchestra to the deep insight and skill of the great ruler. Swati Tirunal was also a gifted musician-composer who could most lavishly set his skill on every form of music like swara jati, jatiswaram, varnam, kriti in all its varieties and diversities, padam, javali, tillana, devotional compositions like Utsava prabandham, Aakhyanas and other Geyaprabandhams. Without any hesitation one can say that Swati Tirunal was the only known composer who had composed not only marvellous Karnatak compositions but also various compositions in Hindustani music like dhrupad, khyal, thumri, tappa, tarana, bhajan etc., with perfect ease and imaginative excellence. There was nothing which he composed that did not become masterpiece, be it classical songs, or treatise in Sanskrit on the theory of musical compositions entitled Muhanaprasantya prasa vyavastha though a small one, also has conquered a worthy place in the field. Besides the musical brilliance and thematic profundity, the compositions of the king reveal rhetorical sparks of a very high order, including the abundance of swaraksharas - a rare musical and literary calibre wherein swara of a raga becomes identical with the letters of the word, in which Swati Tirunal had very few equals.
The golden cultural era of Swati Tirunal witnessed a proverbial record of development of activities in the field of all performing arts in general and classical music and dance in particular, during when both the art forms and artists belonging to the state as well as from all over India, got immense prominence, popularity recognition and elevation. The arts at the royal court, leading temples, training centres and at public places were all improved and revitalised. The entire state became a healthy centre for a powerful art renaissance of a very high order and an impressive media for cultural integration, connecting Kerala to Kashmir, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and other states, especially at a time when facilities for easy travel and stay were all limited. Swati Tirunal, with his brilliant contemporaries like Irayimman Tampi, Parameswara Bhagavatar, Vadivelu and a host of others were the brilliant torch bearers of this spectacular cultural activity.
During the post Swati period, there was a set back to the classical music and dance activities mainly due to the fact that Uttram Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the immediate successor, however great and able he was, could not rise to the level of the musical calibre of his legendary predecessor. Further, his attention was drawn more towards kathakali than to classical music and dance. To add to this, were many internal problems like famine, epidemic etc, and external disturbances created by the British. All these made the state economy weak and the arts and artists, undernourished. Unable to bear the sad state of affairs, the classical musicians and great artists of the state either left the land or died without creating a noteworthy sishya parampara or succession of pupils which could have preserved a rich music heritage. This great lapse in its turn created an unholy situation, where the original tunes and moods of the compositions of Swati and his contemporaries faced a gradual extinction and cold death. To add to this, there was the total neglect of the arts by the British supremacy which was propagating western cultural wisdom. The sad state of affairs continued till the first quarter of the twentieth century, when a cultural revival started effectively under the royal patronage and with the dedicated assistance of great scholars and masters like Muthiah Bhagavatar, Kalyana Krishna Bhagavatar, T. Lakshmanan Pillai, and other celebrities from the local and neighbouring regions.
Explanatory Notes
Folk Music
The bulk of the musical heritage of Kerala lies in its folklore which includes songs as well as its early poems and verses. It is worthwhile to note here, that unlike Sanskrit, which excluded songs from its poetry and brought them under fine arts, Malayalam as other dravidian languages, treated songs as an essential part of its literature and used them as a medium to express their thoughts and culture. Naturally therefore, one finds in the early stages, Malayalam folk songs and regional poetry existing as one and the same.
The innumerable varieties of folk songs spreading over many centuries, have been composed, preserved and handed down to the succeeding generations through oral tradition. The authorship of many of these songs and the exact time of their composition are not clearly known. Yet, they form an unbroken link between the ancient and the modern people and provide valuable records of their religious, social and cultural progress.
Looking at the form, style and musical expression of these songs, they can be placed under three or four stages of development. The first phase is characterised by stray verses prior to the fifth century A.D., which can hardly be called as poems and songs. The second stage consists of verses and songs which were largely influenced by the form spirit and expression of Tamil viruthams (verses) and pattus (songs). The third stage consists of simple and sweet Malayalam songs and poems, some of which were modelled after Tamil chindus, varams, padals etc. The Kerala folklore at its last and refined stage, includes certain manipravalam songs which combine simple Sanskrit and refined Malayalam.
As religion and chivalry played an important role in shaping the early Malayali and his art, the earliest songs were either religious or heroic. Then they absorbed a variety of other subjects related to occupation while certain songs like maveli, thumpi, jnaruppattu etc., had different tunes, different songs had same tunes.
The accompanying instruments of the folklore like chenda, para, talam, chengala, kuzhal, villu, kinnam, kudam, veena etc., which exceed fifty, are a class by themselves. It is the singular pride of the Malayalis, that they have been able to posses a rich heritage of original and unaltered instruments and instrumental playing which are as old as those of natya sastra. Likewise, many of the old and obsolete ragas can still be traced in the unassailable traditions of Kerala folk music and as such, they are of great utility to the researchers and students of music. Also in them, one sees the nucleus of sopana the indigenous music system of Kerala which reigned supreme till the classical Karnatic music swept the state.
The exquisite rustic music of Kerala faced a set back in its traditionalised form, utility and popularity about half a century ago with the sudden establishment of a variety of new styles like the concert music, light music, drama music, film music etc., in whose expansion, the radio and television played the leading role. Unable to withstand the growing popularity of such well organized music disciplines the folk songs and their artists either receded to remote villages or modified themselves in form and character in their anxiety to claim a suitable place among other styles. Recently, an earnest attempt has been going on to rediscover and preserve the folk music in their original form and charm.
Sopana
As said earlier sopana music is the traditional and typical age old music school of Kerala with a hoary past. After undergoing various stages and transformations over a period of two thousand years, it came to manifest itself as the music of the Arya and Dravida temples, temple festivals, traditional theatrical productions and also the background music of certain performing art forms which demands a fusion of geeta, vadya and nritya collectively called as tauratrikam.
The word literally means a staircase and is interpreted as the music which is sung from the sopana or the granite staircase near the sanctorum. Besides in common parlance the term has a musical significance, too. Here it denotes a music which proceeds, slowly in an ascending and descending order of its raga swaras. Though the ragalapana of all systems of music have the same procedure, here it is different in the sense that the alapana treats every note of a raga as its base (nila or padi) and proceeds to its immediate succeeding note and retreats to the starting note which need not necessarily the shadja. There on, it proceeds to the second next note of the raga and comes back to the starting note and the process continues.
Another important thing to be noted here is that the alapana, unlike that of art music, is slow and tala bound. The alapana in akara form is set to the beats of the edakka and eIattalam, in different speeds, enlivened by certain interim koorus, or permutations which indicate conclusion of different stages in its course. On close observation it would be found that there are striking similarities, between sopana-akaralapana bound by the beats of edakka and that of Hindustani music of the tala of tabla (drum) bound by the beats of the four aksharakala duration on the tabla.
Another trait of sopana lies in its use of straight and sharp notes of a raga and holding them for long when such usages are not found in their rendering at the concert level. It is said that straight and sharp notes help to heighten a grip situation. Interestingly, such usages create a feeling that there are more than the usual varieties of nishadas, gandharas etc., in this music.
The scheme of gamakas, of sopana, though same with sastreeya, their choice and application are different here. The gamakas like triroopam, andolitam, leenam etc., are more prominent in this style. When they are applied to the swaras of a raga which have different gamakas at the concert level, they give a totally different feeling.
Sopana music is marked by a certain tremor which is heard with most of the swaras of a raga. Even the shadja and panchama which are always sung straight in the art music, are not free from this tremor. Incidentally such a trait is evident in all archaic or crude forms of music all over the world.
A sudden break to various sancharas and phrases also and to the typicalities of sopana. This peculiarity is a reminiscence of the singing styles of verses of the ancient Sanskrit drama like koothu and koodiyattom which have a direct link with natya sastra. It is said that this is meant for making the expression more dramatic and distinctive.
Emphasis on jeevasthayam is another trait of sopana. The musician chooses one note from a raga and weaves a dominant sanchara with certain supporting swaras around it. This phrase or prayoga which is capable of creating a particular sentiment, becomes the jeevasthaya and is frequently heard while rendering a padam, or a sloka. The rest of the sancharas are woven in such a way that they support the sthayibhava of the jeevasthaya. If there is one or more notes which do not assist the mood of the padam they are skipped over and this has become a natural phenomenon in ragas like padi, puraneeru, etc.
Because of the above traits quite often in this system, poorvanga (first half of the swarakrama of a raga) or uttaranga (second half) where in the jeevasthayam is placed, alone becomes prominent.
Limited range of ragas, musical forms and talas and restriction in their renderings are also traits of this system. Then there are ragas like padi, puraneeru, indolam, indisa, samanta, malahari, kanakurinji which are still hurdled in their archaic form with a fewer sthayas, range, etc. On careful observation it would be found that these ragas are the crude forms of many of the present day classical ragas. The fewer phraseology of these ragas are still kept in view of their capability in expressing particular feelingsMost of the songs start from panchama and goes down to adhara shadja or upto tara shadja. This is because the edakka, the principal shruti-laya vadya, is tuned to panchama and has a range of only one sthayi, with panchama as its base.
In the realm of tala also sopana music has its peculiarities. The scheme of the margi talas, which is said to be prevalent before the advent of the thirty five desi talas and which is considered to be best suited for creating effect, is followed here.
The orchestraic instruments of sopana are typical and play an important role in creating a bhava at its best. Though there are more than fifty instruments prevailing, the leading instruments which are employed in this system are chenda, edakka, chengala, ilathalam, maddalam, kuzhithalam, thimila, nantuni, maram, kombu, kuzhal, villu, sangham etc. Chenda is a unique drum with great potentialities while edakka is treated as a divine drum, which can provide shruti as well as laya. In creating proper atmosphere and mood these instruments have few equals.
Thus the natya element has developed a distinctive style of its own and these distinctions, as opined by great musicians like Attoor Krishna Pisharadi, are the products of a very high scientific system of music that has links with the natya sastra, which records the most ancient music system of the tauratrika form.
Yet what one sadly realises nowadays is the fact that the sopana music is still groping in darkness and is yet to be restored to its original spirit and charm. In establishing it, the main hurdles are the absence of (a) written materials dealing with its science and techniques, (b) scholars who can talk about it accurately and analytically (c) and masters and artists who can present it distinctively and differently from the classical and the folk. Perhaps a dedicated attempt on the part of musicians, musicologists, lovers and patrons to come closer for frank dialogues under some workshop or seminar, in which their counterparts from other states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra, Punjab etc., are also present, may produce good results in re-discovering this great art form which has lot of potentialities which are hidden under continuous neglect and mis-interpretation.
Classical Karnatic Music
The Karnatic classical music as is heard and understood today made its presence known in Kerala, a little before Swati Tirunal, and had its efflorescence during the time of Swathi when bulk of musicians from all over south India, started flowing into the main stream of state musicians, at the court of the versatile royal musician and composer. Further, the age saw innumerable compositions being composed, practised and popularised all over Kerala and also outside the state. The deterioration started during the post Swati period when all musicians fled and all traditions, perished. When a remarkable revival of this music was started after the first quarter of the present century by eminent musicians, scholars and patrons, what one sadly finds is the loss of the original music of the Kerala composers which made their compositions distinct from one another. In the absence of original tunes new tunes were conceived for most of them by eminent gurus. But they have not been well received by musicians in general and masters in particular, because of the fact, that they do not speak the spirit of the composers and their moods. This fact has often affected the popularity and proper recognition of the songs and created many controversies. To re-discover the original tunes of these remarkable compositions an attempt could still be thought of, by calling together, all those lingering parmparas like the Mullamoodu Raghavayya, Kuttikunju Tankachi etc., and gather from them the original music of these great composers who were gifted vaggeyakaras in the strict sense of the term. If a series of such attempts could get the original music of the songs, may it be crude, vague and elementary, they are good enough, because improving a genuine piece of music is much better than foreign products however marvellous the latter may be. The great task of restoring the original musical excellencies of the compositions of Swati Tirunal, Tampi, Thankachi, K.C. Kesava Pillai and others and safeguarding a tradition that was solely Keralite, now rests upon patrons music lovers and organized bodies.
Music of the Sangeeta Natakam
Though the beginning of the dramatic line of music can be traced in the music of koothu, koodiyattam, ashtapadiattam, krishnanattam, kathakali etc., the music of sangeeta natakas as we see it today, started with the introduction of Tamil sangeeta natakas like Pavizhakkodi, Valli tirumanam, Nandanar caritram etc. about a hundred years ago. The overwhelming popularity of the Tamil dramas prompted many native writers and musician-scholars to compose Malayala natakas in their model. Thus there began an age of sangeeta natakas like Sadarama, Dhruvacaritam, Parijata pushpaharanam, Harischandra caritam, Sangeeta naishadham, Nalla thankai etc., which captured the whole of Kerala stage and reigned supreme with actors like Velukutty Bhagavatar, Subbaiya Bhagavatar, Augustine Joseph, Sebastian Kunhu Kunhu Bhagavatar, Vaikkom Vasudevan Nair and Thankom Vasudevan Nair,
C.K. Rajam and also a host of musicians including Sankunni Bhagavatar.
In the growth of the music of the sangeeta natakas, chavittu natakam and other dramas based on Christ have very significant contributions and those dramas based on social themes, having a different musical set up led to the growth of light music.
Lalita Sangeetam
With the beginning of the struggle for independence and social justice, a new form of music with a different musical set up dawned, and many musical styles had to retreat to accommodate this new form of exquisite music which combined the classical, semi-classical, folk and the traditional theatrical styles under one melodious pattern called lalita sangeetam. This new form of music conveying touching emotions through moving tones and tunes, has manifested itself in the field of cinema, drama, All India Radio, Television etc.
Music of Harikatha Kalakshepam
The origin of the music may be traced from the narrations of soothas, chakkiyars and others who presented the story of Gods and kings through acting, music and dance. Centuries later and after due transformations, their exquisite form of the tauratrikam came to rest on scholarly musicians well-versed in the arts, literature and puranas. They narrated mythological stories through music, dance and abhinaya. Many akhyanas, harikatha, tarangam etc., were specially composed for this and great Bhagavatars handled it.
Remaining strictly traditional, classical and religious, with dramatic elements playing a leading role in a musical theme, this school reigned supreme for many decades. Gradually it had to change its form, technique and content, to become a proper media to tell about the social themes through music and speech. Thus kathakalakshepam and kathaprasangam emerged as the modified modern form employing the same aids but in a different shape which went well with the new themes.



The Musical Instruments of Kerala
The musical instruments of Kerala broadly fall under three categories, viz., classical, traditional (theatrical and ritualistic) and folk. Among the classical instruments are included, veena, violin, tampuru, gottu vadyam, flute, nagaswaram, mridangam, ganjira, ghatam, tavil, etc. Most of them are in use in the state, either as solo or as accompanying instruments in the field of karnatic classical music and dances like mohiniyattom, bharata natyam, etc. Since some of these instruments are common to all southern states where karnatic classical music prevails in a uniform nature, and since their introduction into the state in their present day character happens to be a later event i.e., a little before the time of Swati Tirunal _ they are not treated here as typical instruments of Kerala. The folk field has a variety of instruments like pulluvan veena, pulluvan kudom, udukku, tampattam, sooryappira, ampilivalayam etc, which are selectively used in non-Aryan temple rituals and in religious songs and dances and also in some social ceremonies. A few of these instruments are found in certain parts of Tamil Nadu which were once part of old Tiruvitamkur. The traditional theatrical and ritualistic musical instruments include chenda, chengala, maddalam, thimila, edakka, maram etc. and they assist the ritualistic and festive music of the Aryan temples and traditional dance dramas like koothu, koodiyattam, kathakali etc. Instruments like chenda, maddalam, kuzhal etc., are popular with non-Aryan temple rituals and theatrical performance also.
The typical instruments belonging to the traditional and folk fields exceed fifty and the principal among them have a number of sub-varieties in view of their size, shape and prominence in temple rituals, meloms and theatrical presentations. The maximum number of instruments are found in the meloms (ensembles) which are of various kinds. Certain famous meloms consist of hundred to hundred and fifty instruments and the duration of one single item like thayambaka or chenda-melom, could last for about three to four hours, as the recital starts from a very slow speed from which a highly scientific and mathematical display of rhythmical skill by the
artists individually and collectively, is worked out reaching to its shadkala or sixth speed. There is no break or even repetition. Rare anywhere in modern India except in Kerala, a tala of an ensemble is calculated with each of its matra or unit, getting a duration of 16 or 32 aksharas, as a result of which, a tala like panchari (chaturasrajati roopak) having six matras (units) for one avartta would have a total of 96 or 192 akshara-kalas on its starting speed. From there the playing is worked out to its sixth speed, the climax moves and excites not only human being, but also even the long array of elephants, which react to the music by singing their ears and take to the tempo of the melom with perfect pre-vision.
The instruments and instrumental playing of Kerala represent a direct and unbroken tradition, originating from the music described in the ancient epic, Chilappathikaram, which is considered to be the Dravidian counterpart of natyasastra and as such, they provide valuable sources for the study of natyasastra from the practical point of view.
For example, the chakkiyar-koothu described in the epic is very much like the one performed at the temple theatre of Kerala. The koothambalams (temple theatres) are built according to the rules and plans laid down in the natya sastra, etc. The seat, significance and the playing technique of the great drum called mizhaavu is still the same, not to speak of its shape and make-up materials. The traditional artists like chakkiyar, nambiar and nangiar are the direct descendents of the ancient generation of artists and they alone have the right to handle the instrument, are kept alive with all austerity and earnestness.
The early Tamil and Malayalam literature classify the instruments as uttamavadyam (talaikkaruvi), madhyama-vadyam (idaikkaruvi) denoting the best, the middle and the interior, on the basis of their structure and scope. They are further classified as veera-vadyam (por-murasam or instruments of war), nalikappara (kanaparai or time announcing drums), preta vadyam (instruments of funeral rites), kshetra vadyam (temple instruments), neetivadyam (instruments of justice), tullalvadyam (instruments of tullal dance), kathakalivadyam etc., in view of their utility. Again, they are grouped as chetty vadyam, etc., from the point of their association with certain communities. Another classification treats them as akamuzha, puramuzha etc., according to their prominence in religious and social ceremonies.
The instruments represent tol-varieties or avanadha (membrophonic), tula or sushira (aerophonic) tata or tantri (chrodophonic), and talam or ghanam (idiophonic). Also there are instruments made of wooden blocks (castanets). Many of these instruments have a number of sub-varieties and a few combine with others to function as misra vadyas, like the vil vadyam, combining sruti and laya, etc. All the vadyams in general, have stood the test of time, changes and decay. Neither their shapes have
been altered, nor their technique of playing, has been changed. Even the place and prominence of these instruments at the temple rituals, festivals and theatres too have been most religiously safeguarded and their artists are also strictly traditional and hereditary successors.
Of the five types of instruments described in the classics and still prevalent in the state, the drums stand foremost, and have maximum varieties. Ghana or metals come next and then, the sushida or the wind. The stringed instruments have very little significance and representation. One of the reasons for this may be that the stringed instruments with their delicate tones could never identify themselves in the Kerala ensembles which are noted for their loud and open air deliberations.
Another interesting point is that no one so far could solve the mystery of the sudden disappearance of the yal or the jaya-tantri or the harp, which, with its innumerable varieties, once dominated the entire south, under the tender care of the yal-panars, or the traditional artists of the pre-Christian era. The famous yals like the makara-yal, chakota, chenkotti, keechaka, periyal, kinnari, palai, narada-pperigal etc., have vanished for ever from the south. Only the vil-yal (bow-harp) exists in the state with very little significance. The reasons given by some scholars for their disappearance are not very convincing. Perhaps a peep into the life and art traditions of panars _ a community which still survives in certain remote villages of Kerala with their veena and typical music, might be helpful to rediscover the old panars and their yal. Though their veena at present, looks like an apology of the ancient, refined yal, it bears a striking similarity to those harps represented in the Mesopotamian culture, Indus Valley civilization, Ajanta paintings, etc.
The following instruments are frequently referred to in ancient classics like Chilappathikaram, Unnuneeli sandesam, Chandrotsavam and in the works of Cherusseri, Ezhuthassan, Nambiar and Karthika Tirunal, the author of the immortal work, Balarama Bharatam.
Avanadha (Membrophonic)
Bheri, pataham, edakka, maddalam, timila, karatika, kudomuzha, mizhavu, takka, para, damarukam, murasu, anakam, dundubhi, udukku, chenda, jharjhara, kotti, tudi, katum-tudi, tavil, challari, tappu, tammittam, dindimam, dhakka, perumpara, tampuru, mridangam, ganjira, tampattam, panchamukha vadyam, edora, viranam, dholak, antari, tavil, tadari, nichaalam, tudumai, adakkam, bhagam, viraleru, uppangi, chandravalayam, nakra, (nagara) kudukotti, kathirikka, itumudi maram, pani, kidikitti, pambai, saundi, kanappara, stani, pankitam, takunicham, kanvidu tumpoo, ghanam, tanka, rasadhvani, murasam, tattalam, tumpupaangi, chatakam, tattanicham, ekaksham, murajam, naleekam, antari, mulaveedu.
Ghanam (Idiophonic)
Kaimani, kalmani, aramani, kudamani, kinnam, kaalchilampu, kaichilambu, ilattalam, kuzhittalam, talam, chengala, inverted chempu, kancham, bheri-mani, kamysam, ghanta.
Sushiram (Aerophonic)
Odakkuzhal, kurumkuzhal, nedumkuzhal, pullamkuzhal, kombu, magudi, kahalam, sringam, titti, veena, murali, sankham, nagaswaram, mukha-veena, vangiyam, yekkalam, tuttiri, sahanai, bhoori, tutti, tandu, sri-chihnam, yezhil, nauri, karna, cinam, bhullamukhom, sarppanadam, sarppamukham, nalikom.
Tatam (Chordophonic)
Kinnaram, vilvadyam, pulluvan-veena, pulluvan-kudam, nantuni, ravanankai, sarangi, veena, yel, pinaki, tanti, tantri, svarabat, tata, ghottu-vadyam, chala-veena, rudra-veena, thamburu, kinnari, sarod, rava, ravana-hastha, svaramandali, tumpu-vadyam.
Katta or Maram (Castanets)
Cippala-katta, vadi, tadi, marakkayil, ponti, netumkol, kurumkol, panamkol, mulakkol.
Miscellaneous
Kudom, kalasam, niramelum-tunni, maddu, kantha, jalam, musical pillars, mukha-veena (lingua phones), musical bronzes, stone nagaswaram etc.
Since some names in the above list happen to be Sanskrit counterparts of Dravidian names, all names cannot be taken to denote different instruments one or two seems to be blenders of the copyist. A few instruments from the above list have gone obsolete. Among the prevalent ones, which exceed fifty and have many sub-varieties, there are quite some, which are highly musical and could be developed as classical concert instruments on par with mridangam.
The instruments of Kerala are connected either with temple rituals and festivals or with temple theatres. Even the crudest folk varieties have a ritualistic purpose. Interestingly, many of the instruments are common and popular with both Aryan and non-Aryan worshipping centres. Most of them are used even by people belonging to different faiths in their religious and social functions. Like religion, caste too has little significance with the instruments. The people are particular only that they should be handled by traditional families in whose proud heritage there is a long record of their possession, maintenance and presentation.
Some of the leading instruments used in temples:
Edakka, kurum-kuzhal, itu-mudi, veeranam, maram, elattalam, right hand playing of the chenda, maddalam, suddha maddalam, toppi maddalam, sankham, timila, kombu.
The leading rituals where these instruments are played:
Edakka-pradakshinam, vilakkacharam, sribhoota bali, kalasam, dhvaja-pradakshinam, sandhya-keli, poojakkottu, parisha vadyam etc.
Instruments used in the non-Aryan worship:
Nantuni, pulluvan veena, pulluvan kudom, udukku, tudi, yelara, tappu, pambai, viranam, ampill valayam, soorya valayam, kuzhal, ponti, elattalam, maddalam, cippla-katta, kaimani, kalmani, aramani, vil-vadyam, kol-para, chenda, kombu, inverted-chempu, marakkayil, kinnam, ravanankai.
Leading rituals where the above instruments have prominent roles:
Gandharvan pattu, sarppam-pattu, ayyappan-pattu, kalampattu, garudan tookkam, teeyattu, theyyam, bhagavati-pattu, mudiyettu, mudiyattam, sanghakkali, mariyamma-pooja, villadi-pattu, bhadrakaali-pattu, tira etc.
Some of the folk and religious festivals where the above mentioned instruments are played:
Adivedan, arjunanrittam, darikavadhom, kuttiyottam, elamuttikkali, kurattiattom, kannyarkali, andikkali, kuttichattanattam, kuruntinipattu, kummatti, tidampunrittam, pavakkathakali, velakali, etc.
Instruments used in the major meloms connected with religious functions and festivals:
Chenda, thimila, maddalam, kombu, kuzhal, vil, edakka, elattalam, sankham etc.
Major meloms of the temple festivals:
Panchari, panchavadyam, pandi-melom, tayambaka, chenda melom etc.
Instruments used in koothu and koodiyattom:
Koothu and pataham, mizhavu, talakkoottam, edakka, sankham, kuzhal.
Instrument which accompany krishnanattam, kathakali, arjunanrittam etc.:
Chenda, chengala, elattalam, maddalam, edakka, sankham, kal chilampu.
Instruments used in thullal:
Mridangam, talam, harmonium, maddalam. Short Notes on the leading ensembles
Edakkapradakshinam (Kriyangom) - Ritualistic
It is an ensemble connected with certain temple rituals and consists of nagasvaram and edakka duet, either succeeding or preceding a major melom. It is performed in the temple courtyard.
Vilakkacharam (Kriyangom) - Ritualistic
This refers to the orchestra performed during various worships like moorti pooja, peetha pooja, prasanna pooja, deeparadhana etc. Some of these poojas are accompanied by devotional songs like ashtapadis, sung by temple singers to the accompaniment of edakka. In the pooja kottu, there are chenda, maddalam, kurum kuzhal, edakka, kuzhal talam and sankham. In some temples there is the accompanying music of nagaswaram played to the accompaniment of tavil and talam also, though it is presented only outside the garbhagriha and near the dhavajasthalam.
Tayambaka - Festive (Kriyangom and Sevangom)
It is the most famous drum playing of Kerala which stands matchless in rhythmic skill and aesthetic expression. The word is the Dravidian term for the Sanskrit word thayam meaning combination of certain svaras and vaka means 'variety'. Only those masters who have complete mastery over tala and the drum playing technique can present it perfectly.
Tayambaka consists of playing rare rhythmical feats by a number of instruments. It gives maximum facility for expressing one's skill and mastery. In this, the playing stick of the chenda is held on the right hand.
The recital is based on chempata tala (aditala) and starts from the slowest possible speed, called patikalam. From there it is shortened to the fifth or sixth speed (shatkalam) after it passes through various stages of rhythmical combinations, like kooru, ita-vattom, idnila etc. At every step there are calculations, on the basis of different speeds, jatis and gatis and application of yatis like gopuscha, srotavaha, etc. Some times other talas are also employed.
Thayambaka adds to the charm of many of the religious festivals of Kerala.
Chenda Melom (Sevangom) - Festive
This melom is one of the most attractive features of the famous religious festivals of Kerala. It consists of the rhythmical display on chendas numbering 150 or more. It is presented before a long array of decorated elephants carrying on their backs idols, whisks, golden umbrellas, etc. The melom is based on talas like panchari, pandi, adanta, triputa, matya etc. The recital from the slowest speed to its fifth or
sixth speed of a tala, lasts for more than three hours. During a display, after every round, the kuzhalists indicate and lead to the next tempo or stage.
Nowadays, chenda melom presenting panchakalam and shadkalam has become a rare feature.
Kuzhal pattu (Sevangom) - Festive
This denotes the solo recitals on kuzhals when songs are presented by the players. In famous melom the kuzhals indicate various stages and speeds of the recital. But in kuzhalpattu, the instrument takes a melodic stand and plays compositions. It is presented during utsavoms, talappoli, arattu etc. Its main accompaniment is toppi maddalam and in the koodikkalasams (combined conclusions), chenda and kitupidi also join. Unlike nagaswaram, kuzhal pattu does not have a srutikkuzhal.
Panchavadyam (Kriyangom and Sevangom)
It is one of the foremost orchestral playings of Kerala and is presented during poojas and religious festivals. In olden times it consisted of dance songs, and all the four varieties of musical instruments and it has been defined as:
"Tatam chavitatam chaiva ghanam sushira mevacha
Gaanamaananda nirttam cha pancha vadya praveenitah".
But in the following centuries, however, dance and songs started fading out and in today's, pancha vadyam, they are not present anywhere except in certain temples at Chittoor near Palakkad where the melom is played along with a dance called tidampu nrittam, in which the priests carrying idols, dance to the songs of the edakka players, and to the music of the instruments.
Pancha vadyam has undergone a few more changes in its form and nature, as well. In the olden days, it consisted of villu, thoppi-maddalam, kurum kuzhal, chengala, chenda and sankhom. Thoppi-maddalam was hung from the neck of the player. When it was reorganized by Venkachan Bhagavatar and others, it had kombu in place of kuzhal and suddha maddalam in place of thoppi maddalam. Further, the maddalam, instead of being suspended from the neck of the player, was tied around his waist. Since the role of subtle instruments like the stringed ones, had little prominence in a loud and open air orchestra, they were discarded and new instruments like the thimila, were included. The new changes enlarged the scope and range of the orchestral music.
The present day pancha vadyam has thimila, maddalam, kombu, elathalam, edakka and sankham. There are major and minor groups. The minor group has eleven thimilas, five maddalams, eleven elathalams, eleven kombus, two edakkas and one sankham, while the major set has fifteen thimilas, eight maddalams, fifteen elathalams, fifteen kombus, two or more edakkas and one or more sankhams.
The artists stand in four rows, two rows each on one side, facing the other two. The inner two rows which face each other, consists of maddalam players on one side and thimila players on the other. The outer row standing behind the maddlam players consists of horn players and the outer row behind the thimila players consists of ela (eda) talam artists. To make the arrangement look like a mridangam, the edakka players stand on the extreme ends of the inner circle and between the maddalam and thimila players.
The recital assisting religious processions is based on adanta talam, (khandajati ata), a tala of fourteen beats. It starts from a very slow speed from where it could proceed to its pancha kalam or shat kalam with skill and imagination. There are kalasams (crowning conclusions) at the end of every step and stage, and they are worked out in eka tala.
It is widely acknowledged that the pancha vadyam is based on pranava nada- the great omkara which is eternal and all pervading combining within itself akara, ikara, vakara, bindu, nadam, kala and kaala. Because of this noble quality pancha vadyam is regarded as devavadyam. So it is just natural that the panchavadyam starts with omkara, sounded through the sankham. sankham is sounded three times and at the third quarter of the third sounding, thimila artist joins by playing omkara and then the rest of the instruments also join at appropriate places.
The popular panchavadyam, as its name suggests, is presented inside the temple when rituals like siveli, sreebhoota bali, utsava bali, ashta bandha kalasom etc., are performed by the tantris and karmis. The kriyas are done in accordance with the tala and rhythmical progression of the instrumental music. The instruments used in the ensemble are thimila, chengala, sankham, veekkuchenda and kaimani, and the recital is set to ekatalam, mangala talam, takadutalam, munnam talam etc.
For most of the ceremonies of the temples, typical talas, vadyas, and style of playing etc., are prescribed and they are strictly observed.
Panchari-Sevangom (Festive)
Among the leading meloms of Kerala, panchari also has a prominent place. A notable feature of the religious festivals of the northern regions, the melom consists of uruttuchenda, kombu, kuzhal and elattalam (edatalam). There are major and minor meloms. Major meloms have about fifteen kombus, fifteen kuzhals, fifteen uruttuchendas, fourtyfive tala chendas and fourtyfive elathalams while the minor melom has about fifty instruments in the aforesaid proportions.
The players of kuzhal stand in the first row on one side, and behind them, are the kombu players and they together complete the position of artists on one side. Opposite to them and in various rows stand the artists of chenda and edatalam. The first row
consists of uruttu chenda players and behind them are the players of edatalam. At their back, there is a row of chenda players who play on the valamtala (right head) only. Behind them there is again a row of elatalam (edatalam). The arrangement is repeated up to the eighth row, with diminishing numbers of artists on every row and the last row will have chenda and two elatalam players.
The artists of the uruttu chenda and mela chenda hang their instruments from their shoulders in such a way that the left head comes in front of them and at a convenient position for playing. Difficult numbers and rhythmical network are played on the left side of the chenda. Both the valam tala artists and elatalam players keep the sarvalaghu (principal basis of a tala) and guard the tala vattom (rhythmic circle).
As the name suggests the basic tala is panchari which has six beats and which is equivalent to the chaturasra jati rupaka. The pati kala (first tempo) is set to ninety six or one hundred and ninety two aksharas. In the second kala they are halved and the four kalams are played. The process is repeated until the recital reaches its last and fastest speed. In every step there are various types of playing called kooru or patterns involving different jatis, and gatis in different speeds.
Panchari melom can be presented inside the temples like the chempata melom, adanta melom, dhruva melom etc.
Pandi Melam-Sevangom
The orchestra and arrangements of pandi are like panchari. But the technique of playing is different. The artists of uruttu chenda play the drums with sticks in both hands. Unlike panchari there is no tirumanam after every stage or speed. Again, the practice of employing vilamba, madhya, and druta kalas, in all steps is not generally adopted. The playing represents a steady calculation from the slowest to its quickest speed, with perfect accuracy.
One does not know why the melam is called pandi melam and why it is not allowed inside the temple. It is often presented during palli vetta and arattu when Gods are taken out of the temples in street processions.
Keli-Kriyangom and Sevangom
There are two types of keli, sandhya keli and kathakali keli. The former is a part of the temple ritual called vilakkacharam and is performed inside the temple after evening deeparadhana. The ensemble consists of elattalam, chenda and maddalam. The generally accepted tala is chempata (adi).
Kathakali keli is performed before a kathakali performance begins. The melom consists of elatalam, chengala and maddalam. Like the other meloms, kooru vayikkal
is the typicality of this ensemble in which various numbers on the basis of different gatis (natais) like tisra, misra, khanda etc. are introduced in chempata talam.
Sandhya Vela-Kriyangom
This is an ensemble consisting of five or six chendas which precedes a tayambaka. It is a miniature tayambaka in which a few numbers and rhythmical permutations are presented.
Also there are meloms belonging to the field of koothu and koodiyattam like mizahvocha etc. like choritta kai etc., in krishnanattom and kathakali.q




MURAL
The state of Kerala holds the second place in having the largest collection of archaeologically important mural site, the first being Rajasthan. The mural tradition of Kerala evolved as a complement to her unique architectural style. According to scholars the Kerala School of Painting represents the final and fading phase of Indian traditional painting. These wall paintings are characterized by their accuracy, the adherence to colour symbolism, elaborate ornamentatious and sensitive portrayal of emotions.People of all ages and climes have been filling their walls with frescoes and paintings from very early times. The large bare walls of churches and cathedrals, the outer and inner walls of Hindu temples and palaces and the dark inside of Buddhist Viharas and caves have always been inviting if not challenging to the mural artist. The unknown artists of Ajantha and Ellora, the versatile Leonardo Davinci of the Last Supper and Michael angelo of the Sistine Chapel decorations have all come down to us as classic examples of inventive power and spiritual energy. Kerala on the south-western cost of India has won the admiration of every visitor because of its resplendent greenery and luxuriant vegetation. Every aspect of Kerala art blends into this pervasive greenery with perfect harmony. Nothing loud, nothing discordant. Every work of art maintains a subdued tone.
One can say that the tradition of painting on walls began in Kerala with the pre-historic rock paintings found in the Anjanad Valley of Idukki district. Archeologists presume that these paintings belong to different periods from upper Paleolithic period to Early historic period. Rock engravings dating to the Mesolithic period have also been discovered in two regions of Kerala, at Edakkal in Wayanad and at Perimkadavila in Thiruvananthapuram district.
It is not difficult to trace the roots of the Kerala mural styles to the more ancient Dravidian art of Kalamezhuthu. This was much more fully developed art form connected with religious rituals. It was a ritual art of sprinkling and filling up different colour powders inside outlines sketched with the powder.
The hall of the cave must have once been richly decorated with paintings. However at present only sketchy outlines have survived the passage of years. The paintings that were here were executed in all probability in the 9th or 10th century A.D. Apart from this there are no other paintings that can be dated to the period between the 9th and the 13th century A.D. However a tenth century inscription of Goda Ravi Varman found in the Cheruthuruthy Tali temple in Thrissur district mentions the wages that were paid to mural painters.
The subjects for murals were derived from religious texts. Palace and temple murals were peopled with highly stylized pictures of gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. It was not a fanciful representation but drawn from the descriptions in the invocatory verses or ‘dhyana slokas’. Flora and fauna and other aspects of Nature were also pictured as back-drops in highly stylized manners.

The murals of Kanthaloor in Thiruvananthapuram district (13the century) and those of Pisharikavu and Kaliampalli in Kozhikode district (14th century) and those of Pisharikavu and Kalimapalli in Kozhikode district (14th century)are the oldest extant temple frescoes of Kerala. Representing the prolific period of mural art viz. the period between the 14th and 16th centuries
A.D. are the Ramayana murals of Mattancherry Palace and the paintings in the temples like Thrissur Vadakkumnatha temple, Chemmanthitta Siva temple and those at Kudamaloor and Thodeekkalam in Kannur district. They represent a latter phase in the evolution of medieval mural tradition. Likewise the wall paintings at Panayannar Kavu, Thrichakrapuram, Kottakkal as well as those in Padmanabhapuram and Krishnapuram palaces and those in the inner chambers and the lower floor of Mattancherry palace, represent a much later period in the evolution of medieval tradtion.
A close study of the mural art of Kerala will prove to be valuable in understanding the State’s art and cultural tradition. It was a tradition that was nor averse to incorporate the best of the diverse cultural and aesthetic influences that it was open to. But alongside it was also able to retain and preserve its own individuality.



C. CLASICAL ART FORMS
Perhaps Kerala is the only state in India that has such myriad forms of performing arts that are grand spectacle of colors and costumes. Kathakali, the pride of Kerala, is an art form where music, dance and drama are incredibly synchronized. Mohiniyattom, Ottanthullal, Koodiyattam, Chakiarkoothu, Pathakam and Chavittunatakam, though lesser known to the outside world are equally important art forms of Kerala.
C1. KATHAKALI
Kathakali is the most famous dance-drama of Kerala. This classical art from is distinguished by several unique features. It is a marvelous blend of the 'tandava' (masculine) and 'lasya' (languish) elements of dancing. Kathakali is considered to be more than 1500 years old. The costume, makeup, movements, expression and the language make Kathakali a visual treat. The make-up changes according to the characters enacted. The actors do not speak, but enact the 'padams' (dialogues) sung by the singers behind. The themes of Kathakali are drawn from Indian myth and the characters are Gods, humans and demons. The stories revolve around the lives, loves and times of Gods, demons and humans.
The most popular sacred dance-drama of Kerala, Kathakali evolved across the last 400 years. this classical dance requires lengthy and rigourous training to attain complete control of the body and a sensitivity to emotion so as to be able to render all its nuances through facial expressions and hand gestures. Themes centre around the two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha.
Kathakali consists of three fine arts. Abhinayam (acting) Nrityam (dancing) and Geetham (singing). The actors enact their roles with the help of 'Mudras' (hand-gestures) and facial expressions. Music is a very essential aspect of Kathakali. Two musicians sing the 'Padams', Drums-Chenda and Maddalam provide the percussion. The music, though Carnatic, has a typical flavor of Kerala and it adheres to the Thala (rhythm) instead of Raaga. There are five major costumes used in Kathakali, each with set modes of make-up. Each costume design denotes the characteristics possessed by the character. Kerala Kalamandalam - the famous Kathakali institue is situated in Cheruthuruthi near Trichur.
Kathakali is usually presented at dusk, sometimes continuously for many days. Each night will feature one act of the play. The performance lasts till dawn.
C2. KOODIYATTAM
Kathakali's 2000 year old predecessor. Koodiyattam is proffered as a votive offering to the deity. A sance traditionally enacted in temple, the purpose of the performance is not so much to entertain as to edify and educate the audience.
The Aryans, who came to these lands centuries before the beginning of the Christian era, brought with them the language Sanskrit and their culture. They introduced a new dance form, Koodiyattam, which, unlike the most other dance forms, include women participants. Since Koodiyattam performances were preferred as offerings to the deity, they were enacted only in temples. For the purpose, many temples have beautiful pavilions within their precincts, which are known as Koothambalam, with high sloping roofs covered with metal sheeting.

A Koodiyattam performance is a long, drawn - out affair, taking vast area, height and lasting for days. The story unfolds leisurely, and the text is augmented by the performers by expanding upon them with anecdotes, satires and innuendos. Politics, philosophy and social behavior are covered in the comments. The pivotal role in these performances belongs to the Jester, as he is the only one who speaks and the language is Malayalam. He translates the Sanskrit version with a touch of humor. He also acts as a bridge between the actor and the audience.
C3. MOHINIYATTAM
Literally meaning the dance of the celestial dance form contains elements of Bharathanatyam as well as the classical and folk dances of Kerala. Usually performed as a solo dance, Mohiniyattam is very lyrical in its rendering.
Mohiniyattam is a semi-classical dance form. It contains elements of Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi. It is based on the story of ‘Mohini’, the mythological seductress. The movements are graceful like that of Odissi and the costumes sober and fascinating. It combines songs in Malayalam with Carnatic music. It is performed mainly in Kerala. It is essentially a solo dance. The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in ‘Vyavaharamala’ composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboothiri assigned to the 16th century. In the 19th century, Swathi Thirunal, the Maharaja of erstwhile Travancore did much to encourage and stabilize this art form. It was poet Vallathol who again revived it and gave it a standing in modern times through Kerala Kalamandalam which he founded in 1930.
C4. CHAKKIAROOTHU
This is a very ancient dance form of Kerala. It is believed to have been introduced by the early Aryan immigrants . This is performed by the members of the Chakkiar caste. It is a highly orthodox type of entertainment. It is staged inside temples only and the theatre is known as ‘Koothambalam.’ The performances are usually witnessed by the Hindus belonging to the higher castes.
In Chakkiarkoothu, the story is recited in a quasi-dramatic style with emphasis on eloquent declarations with appropriately suggestive facial expressions and hand gestures. The only accompaniments are the cymbals and the drum known as the mizhavu, made of copper with a narrow mouth on which is stretched a piece of parchment.
C5. BHARAT NATYAM
It is believed to be India’s oldest form of classical dance. This dance form which is called poetry in motion, has its hoary origins in the Natya Sastra written about 4000 B.C. by Sage Bharatha. This art form grossly disallows new fangled innovations or gimmicks except in repertoire and forms of presentation. It was originally known as ‘Dasi Attam,’ a temple art performed by young women called ‘devadasis.’
After the 16th century, this dance form went into disrepute due to economic and social conditions and became synonymous with prostitution. It was Rukmini Devi who gave it a new life and respectability. The present form was evolved in the 19th century by four Tanjore dancers, Ponniah Pillai and his three brothers.
To become proficient in Bharatha Natyam, one must be talented and extremely dedicated. It requires at least seven years of dedicated training to master the different gestures and poses and the various emotions called ‘bhavas.’ The skill of the artist in conveying the ‘bhava’ or ‘rasa’ is more important to the audience than the accompanying song.
Bharatha Natyam is commonly performed by women, but sometimes by men also. There are strict guidelines laid down regarding every single aspect of the art including the attributes required in order to be an accomplished dancer.
C6. KRISHNANATTAM
Krishnanattam, as the name suggests, originated as a votive offering to Sree Krishna. It is performed in group and is presented across eight nights. The story is based on the Sanskrit text, Krishna Geetha. The charm of this classical art form is in the synchronised grace of movement of the entire group. The costume and makeup of Krishnanattam bear traces of resemblance to Kathakali and folk arts like Thiyattam, Mudiyettu and Theyyam. Musical instruments used are maddalam, elathalam and chengila. Krishnanattam is most commonly performed in the Guruvayoor temple.


D. FOLK DANCES

Kerala has a rich variety of folk dances. They are highly developed and reflect the temperaments and moods of the localities in music and custume. Nature silently and unobstrusively has moulded these dances just as the lives of the people who dance them.
Religious colouring is seen in almost all of these folk dances, even in those performed in connection with harvests, sowing of seeds, festivals etc., so much so that their secular nature is always at doubt. There is difficulty in classifying these dances as social, religious and martial. Many of these dances are performed by men alone, some exclusively by women. There are also dances in which men and women perform together. Most of the folk dances are performed to the accompaniment of songs which are sung by the dancers themselves or occasionally by a group of musicians. Some dances are performed to the accompaniment of musical instruments only. In several dances the performers form a circle and clap as they dance. Sometimes, instead of clapping they strike small sticks which they hold in their hands. The customs and ornaments are peculiar to the places to which they belong. The eloquent, effortless ease with which the dances are executed and the overwhelming buoyancy of spirit are wonderful. In these folk dances there is no difference between the performers and the audience. Almost all of these folk dances are simple but beneath this simplicity is a profundity of conception and a directness of expression which are of a high artistic order.
There are more than fifty well-known folk dances in Kerala. Of them the Kaliyattom, Mudiettu, Kolam Thullal, Kolkli, Poorakkali, Velakali, Kamapadavukali, Kanniyarkali, Parichmuttukali, Thappukali, Kuravarkali and Thiruvathirakali are the most popular.
D1. SANGHA KALI
This is also known as Sastrakali, Chathirakali or Vatrakali. Essentially a socio-religious dance which was a very favourite and popular pastime of Namboodiris, it was performed as a votive offering. The origin of Sanghakali may be traced to the numerous gymnasia (known as Kalaris) in ancient Kerala where physical exercises and military training with special stress on physical feats and swordsmanship were given.The last phase of the dance is called Kudameduppu. It is martial in character and actually in the form of combat exercise displaying the skill in swordsmanship and the mastery of techniques in the use of other weapons.
D2. KAIKOTTI KALI / THIRUVATHIRAKALI
Kaikottikali, also known as Thiruvathirakali, is a very popular, graceful and symmetric group-dance of the women of Kerala often performed during festive seasons like Thiruvathira and Onam. It is a simple and gentle dance with the lasya element predominating, even though the thandava part is also brought in occasionally, when men also participate as seen in some parts of the Malabar area. Typically dressed in Kerala style with mundu and neriyathu and the hairbun bedecked with jasmine garlands the women dance in gay abandon, singing melodious Thiruvathira songs which are well-reputed for their literary flourish. One of the performers sing the first line of a song while the rest repeat it in chorus, clapping their hands in unison. Moving in a circle, clockwise and at times anticlockwise, at every step they gracefully bend sideways, the arms coming together in beautiful gestures, upwards and downwards and to either side, in order to clap.
D3. MUDIYETTU
This is ritualistic dance springing form the Bhagavathy cult. The theme depicts the glory and triumph of Bhagavathy over the demon Darika. The characters are all heavily made up with gorgeous costumes, intricate and elaborate and with conventional facial paintings, tall head-gears etc. Attired and adorned exotically with a unique weirdness and hideousness, the characters seem quite supernatural.
D4. KAKKARISSI KALI
Prevalent among the Kuravas of Thiruvananthapuram district, this group dance is very vociferous because of the shoutings of the participants and also the wild beatings of primitive drums like para, veekkan chenda etc.
D5. DAPPU KALI
A group-dance of the Moplahs of Malabar. The performers from two rows of ten of twenty. They beat on the dappu which each dancer holds in his left hand and dance with exquisitely symmetrical swayings of the body and astonishing co-ordination of rhythm steps, flexion of body and timing of dappu.
D6. KOLKKALI
A mixed dance in which both men and women participate. The performers move in a circle, striking small 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.
D7. POYKKULAU KALI
Also known as marakkalattom, this is a still-dance performed in connection with temple festivals. Theme songs are sung in which the fight of the goddess Durga on stills against the Asuras who attacked her in the guise of snakes, scorpions etc., are portrayed. The rhythm is kept by percussion instruments.
D8. KOTHAMOORI
This is a dance prevalent among the Malavans of North Kerala. Models of oxen are made up with leaves and twigs, and carried on shoulders behind which numerous dancers with crude facial marks and skirts made of tender fronds of coconut, dance in exotic jubiliance to the accompaniment of instruments like chenda and kinni ( a bronze plate ).
D9. POORAKKALI
A folk dance prevalent among the Thiyyas of Malabar, usually perfromed in Bhagavathy temples as a ritual offering during the month of Meenam (March - April). Poorakkali requires specially trained and highly experienced dancers quite thorough with all the techniques and feats of Kalaripayattu, a system of physical exercise formerly in vogue in Kerala. Standing round the traditional lamp, the performers, dance in eighteen different stages and rhythm, each phase being called a Niram.
D10. PANNA
This is ritual dance propitiating the goddess Kali. Small temporary shrines are constructed and variously decorated. A branch of the Pala tree is taken round the temple by about 10 to 12 persons who dance all the way to the rhythm set by percussion instruments and to the vociferous shouting and chanting of the accompanying crowd.
D11. SARPAM THULLAL
Many ancient family houses in Kerala have special snake shrines called Kavu. Sarpamthullal is usually performed in the courtyard of houses having snake shrines. This is a votive offering for family wealth and happiness. The dance is performed by members of a community.
D12. AYYAPPAN VILAKKU
Numerous miniature temples are constructed out of tender coconut frond and plantain leaf-stalks. Then songs are sung on the legendary right between Ayyappan and Vavar. In tune with the various rhymes and thythms of this devotional song, two dancers in the costume and make up of Ayyappan and Vavar perform, striking with swords and defending with coconut fronds.
D13. PARICHAMUTTU KALI
This is martial folk-dance which had its origin during the day when kalaripayattu, the famous physical exercise of swordplay and defence, was in vogue in Kerala. The performers dance with swords and shields in their hands, following the movements of sword fight, leaping forward, stepping back and moving round, all the time striking with the swords and defending with shields.
D14. KAAVADIYATTOM
Mainly performed as a votive offering in temples where the presiding deity is Lord Subrah mania. Here a number of dancers dressed in yellow or rose clothes and smeared all over the body with ashes and each with an ornate kavadi on the shoulder, dance in a row to the rhythmic beatings of instruments like udukku, chenda, etc., Sometimes nagaswaram is also used.
D15. BHADRAKALI THULLAL
This is a devotional offering of Pulayas for the deity Bhadrakali. Special pandals are constructed in the fields after the harvest and the dances are performed. They are quite drawn-out and have numerous phases.
D16. VELA KALI
A martial dance of the Nair community. This depicts ancient warfare in Kerala in all its ferocity and valour. Armed with shining swords and shields and dressed in exotic costumes they dance with vigour and force. The dance ends with the victory of good evil.
D17. PURATTU
The wood Purathu means limitation or mimicry. It is a humorous folk-play which many characters like Chettiar, Chettichi, Kuravan and Kurathi are cleverly imitated to evoke laughter.
D19. KAMPADAVU KALI
A war dance which is the legacy of an ancient past. The dance is performed in circles and the dancers utter wild war cries as it gathers momentum. The group formations are many varied and the power and variety of rhythm exquisite.
D20. AMMANATTOM
Ammana is a hollow metallic ball which contains numerous metallic pieces inside. Women perform the ammanattom dance, using four to twenty-four ammanas which are thrown up and caught deft missing none.
D21. THOOKKAM
After worshipping the deity the performers gets over a one wheeled platform over which is the pillar like utholakam. There is a hook at one end of the utholakam to which is attached the backside skin of the dancer. This end is then raised up. Hooked to the utholakam, the dancer is thus suspend in the air almost horizontally in which posture he executes certain physical feats and dance movements and the whole platform is taken round the temple deity thrice.
D22. AIVAR KALI
Aivar Kali literally means the play of the five sets. This is performed by members of Asari, Moosari, Kuravan, Thattan, and Kallasari communities. It is often staged in connection with temple festivals like Velela, Thalapoli etc.
D23. PADAYANI
Padayani or padeni in colloquial speech, is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts). The word padayani literally means military formations or rows of army, but in this folk art we have mainly a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or Kolams of different shapes, colours and designs painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kolam (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird) etc.
D24. THIYYATTU
A devotional offering performed in Bhadrakali temples. A set of performers known as Thiyyattunnis alone are entitles to perform it. The theme is usually the killing of Darika by Bhadrakali. The Unnis first draw the picture of Bhadrakali (called kalam) on the floor, with a five different types of colour powers. Then the dancer in the costume and make-up of Bhagavathy with special head gears, pleated skirts and painted face dances before the Kalam, to the accompaniment of devotional songs.
D25. OTHAM THULLAL
The concept is that the devil-aides (Bhoothams) of Lord Shiva are coming to see and enjoy the temple festival. The make-up of the Bhoothams consists of peculiar costumes, at once colourful and captivating. Large headgears, projecting rounded eyeballs, high-ridged noses, protruding tongue, flowing black hair behind the pleated skirts and overcoats all conspire to make the dancers appear completely supernatural.
D26. THULLAL
This is a ritual offering usually performed to get rid of the troubles caused by evil-spirits. Here a number of characters, with hideous make-up and flat big head-gears dance to the accompaniment of primitive percussion instruments.
D27. THEYYAM
A dance from glorifying the Goddess. Themes revolve around the triumph of the Goddess over the demon Daruka and other evil characters. Always performed by men. They also enact female roles wearing exotic make up and colourful costumes.
This is a ritual dance and one of the oldest forms of dances. Theyyam is associated with the cult of Goddess Bhagawati. The themes of these dances revolve around the triumph of the Goddess over the evil characters like the demon Daraka (Darakasuran). Theyyam is always performed by men and they are often costumed as women in exotic make-up. The men performing the dance wear masks and elaborate costumes. The headdress made of palm leaves and cloth can at times rise well over forty feet in height. The dancer moves to the rhythm of 'Chenda' (drum) and when the dance picks up momentum, he casts a spell on the spectators, often in a religious way.
Theyyam, otherwise known as Kaliyattom, is an ancient socio religious ceremony performed in Kerala since very remote times. As the word Kaliyattom denotes, this is a sacred dance performance for Kali. Kaliyattom is sometimes called Theyyattom because every thera or village was duly bound to perform it. These names show that Kaliyattoms were special festivals of religious and social importance.
In ancient times every village of Kerala has its own common shrine called Kavu and it was imperative to have Kaliyattom performed in front of it. As the word Kali has also the meaning of "Safety" in Malayalam, Kaliyattom may have the significance of a sacred dance for social or family safety.
The Dravidians were worshippers of the ferocious goddess called Kottavai. To propitiate this goddess a peculiar dance was performed. It would not be mere conjecture to say that the old Kottavai dance performance was the actual foundation on which Kaliyattom took roots later on. As Kerala was primarily a land of people with Sakthi (Bhagavathi) worshippers, the Kaliyattom became very much a part and parcel of the social structure.
Kali worhip made its stronghold especially in the northern parts of Kerala, known as the Kolathirinad, the ancient kingdom of Kolathiri (Chirakkal Raja). Therefore it was Kolathunad (North Malabar) that Kaliyattom flourished more than in any other part of Kerala, In this way, a wide range of Kaliyattom nurtured and developed. With the passage of time along with different aspects of Kali, various other Kolams of heroes and heroines were defined and special Kolams were attributed to them. Thus we find Sankaracharya as Pottan Daivam, Thacholi Othenan as Ponniatu Pataveeran, Katangot Makka as Makkapottu and the great commander of the Kolathiri militia as Vayanattukulavan.
In short, in Kaliyattom, permanent forms and special attributes are given to Kolams and divine as well as hero worship is substantially and methodically carried out.
Each manifestation in a Kaliyattom is known as Kolam. Kolam actually means "shape" or form God, goddess, hero or heroine have their own peculiar and specific forms, and each form has its own particular representative aspect. To bring out that aspect each Kolam has special features in face painting which is a work of difficult craftsmanship and is a unique piece of art. Some Kolams take eight to ten hours time to paint the face according to strict rules of tradition. In the same way the crowns, head dress, breast plates, arm ornaments, bangles, garland and above all the woollen or cotton garments are all so elaborately furnished and variously shaped that the figure of a Kolam is something to see and wonder. It is said that the vivid and masterly ornamental dressing of Kathakali has originated from this.
D28. KURATHIYATTOM
Kurathi are a set of gypsies who go about from place to place telling fortunes. In this dance called Kurathiyattom, two Kurathis first enter dancing, in the guise of characters representing the wives of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Then they stage a controversy through songs over the exploits of their respective husbands. The favourable point in one's favour becomes the butt of ridicule at the other's hands and while one praises profusely the other condemns sarcastically.
D29. THUMPI THULLAL
This is a dance in which only women participate. It is usually performed in connection with the Onam festival. All the girls are dressed in immaculate Onakkodi dress and ist round in a circle. At the centre of the circle sits the performer.
D30. KUMMI
This is women's dance prevalent in Kerala. The dancers move in a circle and the hand gestures singnify reaping and harvesting. One of the women leads the singing with a favourite song while the rest take up the refrain. Each performer renders a new line in turn and the dancing stops when all get tired.
D31. KADUVA KALI
This dance, also known as Pulikali, is performed during the Moharam season. Dancers realistically made up as tigers with appropriate costumes go about from house to house, dancing vigorously to the loud beating of instruments like Udukku, Thakal, etc.
D32. KANNIYAR KALI
One of the centuries old, but well-known folk dance of Kerala, Kanniyarkali (also known as Desathukali) is a fast moving, militant dance from attuned to rhythmic devotional folk songs and asuravadyas. It is said to be a ritual offering in honour of the deity Bhagavathy.
D33. PAKKANAR ATTOM
This art form is performed to drive out evil spirits from hons. It is believed that Pakkanar and his wife visit the hayses. They dance in tune with the beat of different drums. Usually this art form is performed during Onam festival.
D34. KUTHIYOTTAM
This is in vogue in Thiruvananthapuram District, performed mostly in Devi temples. A performer, wearing a crown, similar to the used by the 'Ottanthulal artist, and three other characters, with three different facial make-ups, dance rhythmically to the background of percussion instruments. The songs are in praise of Durga, 'Padapattu', and 'Kalaripattu' and songs in praise of deities. It is usual to have partitioners of red silk at the performing arena.
D35. THIRAYATTOM
Thirayattom is performed as part of festive celebrations in Kavus in Central Malabar. The word thira means lustre and the Thirayattom dance is said to cast radiacne by vertue of his gorgeous array, made all the more dazzling by the blaze of torches, made of clusters of dried coconut fronds.
D36. OPPANA
Oppana is an exquistic folk art form performed traditionally among the muslim community in Kerala. The song and dance programme is performed by females to entertain the bride and by males to entertain the bridegroom.
D37. MARGAM KALI
Margam Kali is an art from popular among the Syrian Christian community of the eastwhile Travancore. This consists of group dances and martial arts like parichamuttu kali. The theme of the songs revolves round the life of St. Thomas.
D38. AADI VEDAN
Aadivedan is an ancient folk art prevalent in certain areas of Kannur district. Aadi and Vedan represent parvathy and siva. All the characters who enact these two roles normally belong to two different communities. It is performed during day time.
D39. ARJUNA NRITHAM
Arujunanritham is a popular dance form in Alleppy and Kottayam districts. This is performed by one or two persons at night and the lighting is done by the traditional lamp called 'Nilavilakku'. Arjunan was proficient in dance among the Pandavas and he is supposed to have danced and sung praising Bhadrakali. Since the lower part of the garments of the dance is made of peacock feathers, the dance is also known as "Mayilpeeli Thookkam"
D40. KUMMATTI
Kummattikali is a mask dance popular South Malabar. The dancers wear brightly painted wooden masks. During onam season groups of dancers donning masks and adorning themselves with leaves and grass go from house to house. The rhythm is provided by vibrating the string of a bow-like instrument called onavillu.

D41. KOTHAMOORIYATTAM
This art forms is proformed in Kannur District. The leader along with the troupe go to each house, play on Chenda and begins to sing. Two characters with face masks made out of the stalk of coconut fronds and with yellow tassels of Kuruthola sing the refrain. Along with this they go through an enactment of comical gestures. There comedy charactors are known as Paniyans. Another character the representation of bull, worn round his waist, dances in peculiar style.
D42. GARUDAN THOOKAM
This dance form is presented in some temples where the installed deity is Badrakali. Two or three dancers in the garb of Gardua, dance of the rhythm of percussion instruments. In imitation of Garuda (the bird king) the dangers preen the feathers with their breaks, carry snakes in the beak, dance with wings spread in circles, in an ecstacy of joy.
D43. CHOOZHIKKALI
After commencing the performance, in a vacant lot, the performers go from house to house and perform this.The costume of Chozhi consists of dried plantain leaves, tied all over the body. And two horns would be sticking out from the forehead. Kalan and Chitragupta wear black clothes and masks of terrifying aspect with fangs bared.
D44. THALAMKALI (THALIKAKKALI)
This is an art form where physical culture amount much. It is prevalent culture amount much. It is prevalent in Malappuram district. It is said that this used to be popular as a performance during the celebrations of Thalikettu ( a ritual in which the young girls who attain puberty go through a mock marriage)The performers stand in a circle and sing to a rhythm. After that they carry plates in both palms and go through intricate twisting and turning.
D45. THIDAMBU NRITHAM
This is prevalent in Kannur District and in some parts of Kozhikode District, in North Kerala. Namboodiris conduct the dance. Marars play on percussion instruments. One namboodiri to bear the Thidambu, seven players on percussion instruments, two persons to carry lamps, in all ten persons are needed to present this. The dance is performed with the decorated effigy of the Devi carried on the head. Foot work is most important and this is executed to the rhythm of the drums.
D46. THEYYANNAM
This is a ritualistic art, performed by the Pulaya and Kurava communities. Theyyannam is found in Mavelikara, Pandalam and some places in Alappuzha District.When man turned to cultivation, his liking and respect for this began to increase. Though he cultivates different crops, he has a partiality for paddy cultivation. This is the theme of Theyyannam.
D47. THEKKANUM THEKKATHIYUM
Popular in Palakkad and Malappuram Districts. This is handled by the Panars. Their daily profession is the making of palm leaf umbrellas.Two characters (one male and one female) and two percussion instrumentalists form a troupe. The characters sing, exchange dialogues and perform stylished movements, through well defined steps.
D48. THOLPAVAKOOTHU
This is known as Pavakoothu and Nizhalkoothu. Prevalent in Palakkad and Ponnani Taluks. This is handled, traditionally, Pulavanmars. The pavakal, or puppets are made of deer skin, to represent characters in the Ramayana epic. The puppets are arranged behind a long curtain.
D49. MAGACHUTTU
Popular in Thiruvananthapuram and Chirayinkizhu taluks and in Kilimanoor, Pazhayakunnummal and Thattathumala regions.Form among the eight performers, two each, twin around each other like serpents and rising up, battle it out with sticks. The techniques are repeated several times. Sandalwood paste on the forehead, a red towel round the head, red silk around the waist and bells round the ankles. These form the costume. This is a combination of snake workship and Kalaripayttu.
D50. MALAYAN KETTU
This art form is in vogue all over Kannur District. This is fully ritualistic in scope.This is usually performed for the sake of those women who have miscarriages and who are advised by the astrologers to have this ritual.
D51. VELAKALI
It is one of the most elaborate and spectacular martial folk arts of Kerala. This ritual art form is usually presented within the temple premises and is called Thirumumbil vela when performed before the deity and Kulathilvela when performed near the temple pond. Fifty or more performers in the traditional attire of soldiers, bearing colourful shields and swords or long canes, dance with war like steps in perfect orchestration with the resounding rhythm of the thakil, suddha maddalam, elathalam, kuzhal and trumpets. A few fighting techniques of Kalaripayattu are also displayed in the course of the performance.
FOLK PERFORMANCES OF KERALA BY WOMEN
Ammanattam Kolkali Oppana
Champazhukkakali Koythu Nritham Pakkanar Kuuthu
Chittukali Nritham Krishnaleela Pentharumokkali
Daivakkali Kudamuthu Parunthattam
Kadar Nritham Kumbhattam Pattichikali
Kaikottikkali Kummi Poochakali
Killiyadikali Pulayarkali Sarpam Thullal
Kinnamkali Thiruvathirakali Thumbi Thullal
Thalipeeli Uripinnikkali Valakali
Unjalikali Mudiyattam Vattakkali

BY MEN AND WOMEN
Adiyanthirakali Kolattam Kiliyadikkali Parayan Pooppada
Chattu Kurathiyattam Pulayankali
Chavittulaki Malavettuvan Nritham Sarpam Thullal
Chavittunatakam Malayikkuthu Seethangan
Edaya Nritham Mannankuthu Thacholikkali
Irula Nritham Otten Thullel
Gaddika Paniyarkali Vattakkali
Kakkarassi Natakam Paravallikali Koithu Nritham



BY MEN
Aleprem Thullal Kolam Thullal Paavakkathakali
Adivedan Kolkkali Pallukali
Aluvelakkali Koorankali Paniyarkali
Andiyattam Kothamuri Pakkanarkali
Aravanamuttu Kothamuriyattam Parichamuttukali
Arjuna Nritham Kovi Nritham Patayani
Chathankali Kozhipporukali Pavakkuthu
Chavittukali Kumba Nritham Poorakali
Chavittunatakam Kummatti Poothamkali
Chavu Thullal Kuthirakali Porattukali
Chozhikkali Kuthiyottam Sanghakali
Dappukali/Daffumuttu Kuttichathanattam Sarpam Thullal
Ezhamathukali Kurumarkali Suuramporu
Garuda Nritham Kuruvarkali Taalamkali
Garudan Thukkam Kuuliyattam Teyyam
Golgandiyattam Maankali Thampurankali
Ivarkali Malamkali Thappukottikali
Kaalakali Malayankettu Thedikkottikali
Kaduvakali Margamkali Theyyannam
Kampeladikali Mariyattam Theyyattu
Kambadikali Mudiyettu Thumbithullal
Kanalattam Naikkarkali Thidambu Nritham
Kannyarkali Narikkolam Tirayattam
Karadiyattam Nagachuttu Vattakali
Kavadiyattam Nayadikkali Vedan Thullal
Kayyamkali Ochirakali Velakali
Kiliithattukali Paana Villadichan Pattu


A. VALLAM KALI


B. KALARIPPAYATT
Kalarippayatt is the traditional martial art of Kerala. It is believed to be the forerunner of all eastern martial arts . It has played a significant role in the technical development of all other performing arts in Kerala. Its roots can be traced back to the 12th century when skirmishes among the many feudal principalities were very common.
Kalarippayatt is still taught in Kerala. The CVN Kalari Sangham in Thiruvananthapuram imparts training in Kalarippayatt. The founders of this Sangham played a significant role in the revival of Kalarippayatt. There are Kalries in north Kerala too, especially in Kozhikode.
Masters of Kalarippayatt are called GURUKKAL. Kalarippayatt is taught inside a special arena called KALARI, which is part school, part gymnasium and part temple. A kalari is constructed following traditional principles. Its rectangular design is always aligned east - west direction and Hindu deities are represented at each corner.
Training in Kalarippayatt begins at a very young age. Both boys and girls are taught. Learning requires ritual stretching and flexing exercises to achieve balance and concentration. To increase suppleness of limbs, a full body massage is given. During the course of the training, various weapons are introduced including the sword and shield of the medieval warrior.
Origin and Growth

The Patanilam is a plain ground for war or duel. The Totu Kalari is the place where instructions are given in the Marma System or the knowledge of vital parts of the body, including Choondumarma or Totumarmas. The nomen clature, based on the measurement of the ground, informs us that the size of the structure, ranges from twelve to sixty two feet. The most common among the above groups and the only type that exists at present in Kerala is the Nalpatheerati. All Kalaries except Patinetteerati and Pantheerati bear a width of half the length. The Patinetteerati and Pantheerati Kalaries are square with the same length and breadth.
Construction of Kalaries
There were two The origin of Kalarippayattu is still in the midst of obscurity. Traditional Kalari masters attribute mythological stories and legends to the origin of the art. According to them, Parasurama the mythical creator of Kerala, instituted 108 Kalaries all over the land. This legend on the origin of the institution propagated by Keralolpathi, still lingers in the minds of the Keralites. Some masters believe that the Kalari system originated out of the wrath of Lord Siva while in his fury, to destroy Dakhsayaga, Parasurama, Lord Siva's disciple, is supposed to have studied this art from his and have handed it over to his 21 disciples in Kerala. All such legends, propagate the theory that his martial art was brought to Kerala by the Brahmins.
The first historical interpretation of the origin of the Kalari system was given by Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai. He points out that this fighting art emerged during the 12th century from the military exigency of the "Hundred Years War has been questioned and rejected, the theory of the origin of Kalari during this War, has lost its ground. Moreover, it is unlikely that a martial system will emerge suddenly from a war.
It is to be assumed that Kalarippayattu emerged through a long process, as the result of a synthesis of an indigenous physical culture with the martial system, imparted through the Brahminical institution called Salais. The argument that Kalari was derived from Sanskrit is questionable, as the word 'Kalari' is seen repeatedly in early Tamil anthologies.
System in Operation Structural Features

There are different types of Kalaries which had their origin in the distant historical past. Indigenous folk lores and technical literature furnish a log list. The Ballads of North Malabar, a collection of heroic songs, have reference to different types of Kalaries like Ankakkalari, Patanilam, Totuvorkalari, Totukalari and Cherukalari. Technical writings named the Kalaries on the basis of functional structures, viz., Netumkalari, Kurumkalari, Totukalari and Cherukalari. Apart from referring to local Kalaries like Matayikalari, Melurkalari, Chovvakalrai and Mayyazhikalari, the Ritualistic songs of Theyyam known as Tottam Pattukal refer to caste Kalaries like Tiyyar Kalari, Pular Kalari, Choyyikalari, Kanisan Kalari, Namboori Kalari and the like. The table given below highlights the different types of kalaries and their locations.
distinct types of Kalaries; Kuzhikalari in the North and Nilakkalari in the south of Kerala. A Kuzhikalari is constructed by digging out soil from the ground and forming a pit for an appropriate structure. The depth of the pit varied from region to region. In the Katattanatu area, roughly the present Badagara Taluk in Kozhikode district, the depth of the Kalari pit is seven feet whereas in the north of Kadathanad it comes to the chest height. The arena is protected by a thatched roof of plaited coconut leaves. The skeletal structure of the roof rests on wooden or stone pillars, erected in the centre of the eastern and western borders of the pit and connected with long beams. The height of the centre of the structure ranges from 32 feet to 42 feet. This construction style is known as the elephant mouthed or Anavayan. The structure not only gave enough aeration but also controlled the temperature within the pit. Pouring gingerly oil in the ground, plaiting the ground by seashells and the like, gave healthy atmosphere for hard physical exercise. The Nilakkalaries of Southern Kerala are made by constructing mud or stone walls around the appropriate area to a height of 5 feet, and roofing it with coconut leaves. These variations could have been on account of the environmental differences of the regions and the differences between the systems and practices of the masters or Gurukkals.
Training
Kalarippayattu is designed in four successive stages of training Meippayattu, Koltari, Ankatari and Verum Kaiprayogam. The Meippayattu is a series of body control exercises, systematically designed and practised according to Vaytari or verbal instructions. It is also known as Meiotukkappayattu; that which gives proper orientation to the body, suppleness and flexibility. This also gives a natural mastery to the body for swift movements in attack and defense. After mastering Meippayattu, the student is initiated into the next stage of fighting with wooden weapons called Koltari. Mastering Koltari leads to the Ankatari or technique of fighting with metal weapons. Lastly the student will be imparted training in empty hand fighting techniques called Verumkai prayogom. Selected, well-disciplined and dedicated students will be given training in Marma prayogam or attack on the vulnerable points of the body. In earlier periods, training was given in the use of many other weapons like axe, three-proned spear, and ponti. Archery was also included in the scheme of training. All exercises in Kalari are performed in strict accordance with Vaytari or systematically developed verbal instruction given by the Guru. The Vaytari is designed specially to give strength, flexibility, endurance, reflex, nimbleness and precision. The Kalarippayattu course extended throughout the year. Today, most of the Kalaries except C.V.N Kalari, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode and a few others, impart training through short term courses of three months duration

ART & CULTURE
PERFORMING ARTS
TRIBAL DANCES
The primitive inhabitants of Kerala, are only about two hundred thousand now and they are scattered in the jungles and hills of the state prominants. There are about 35 different types of the tribals, among them being the Kurichiyar, Nayadi, Mullakurumbar, Uralikurumbar, Paniya, Mudaga, Irula, Ernadar, Kadar, Muthuvan, Kanikkar, Uralees, Paliyan, Malavedan, Vettuvar, Eravallan, Veda and Malayan. They are unique examples of communities in isolated existence, still preserving their life, customs and manners almost untarnished by the advancing waves of urban civilization. Though adapted to different dialects and customs, their artistic expression evidently reflects the distinct, secluded and primitive social structure and nature of the people and it still survives as virile a state as ever in the tribal hamlets of the hilly tracts.

Each of these aboriginal tribes has its own distinct dance tradition and invariably all of them are interwoven with the life of the people who dance it, so much so that it seems that some of their daily tasks are given to rhythmic pattern. In the background of mystery shrouded nature, tribal celebrations originate and the dances work up intoxicating excitement physical expressions of their joys and griefs, hopes and fears.

Some times the dancing is extremely simple and consists of little more than shuffling of the feet or waving of the hands. At other times it is swaying of the body to the clapping of hands or beating of primitive drums to mark time. Yet another form shows only the monotonous movement of the hands and feet. But generally speaking, a wide range of movement involving all parts of the body, the head back hips, arms, fingers and the feet and even facial muscles are utilized in tribal dances.

There are very complicated tribal dances as well in which dancing harmonises gesture, expressing the whole gamut of sentiment, where rhythm is kept by swaying the body and intricate steps executed with adept foot-work. Usually the dances have a slow beginning, but gather momentum and work up to a heavy tempo of the vociferous climax of the drums, and the ecstacy of the ever-mounting rhythm of spontaneous music. Many of these dances are heroic or martial in character.

Some tribes have songs to accompany their dances. Either the dancers themselves sing or the on-lookers sing and thus participate. Special musical instruments are sometimes used, but the drum is almost an indispensable feature. The costumes of the dancers vary from approximate nudity to full attire and ornaments which are extremely colourful.

Like all tribal arts, Kerala's tribal dances are and spontaneous. It is the most direct expression of the inner most spirit of a people and the instinct of rhythm is an natural and basic as human nature.
Some of the more known tribal dances of Kerala are Elelakkaradi, Kadarkali, Kurumbarkali, Paniyarkali, Edayarkali, Mudiyattam and Vedarkali.
ELELAKKARADI
This is highly heroic group-dance in which almost the whole community of men, women and children participate. The dance is very common with the tribals called Irular of Attappadi in Palakkad district. The dance brings out the fight of the people against the wild bears which very often attack their tribal hamlets.
KAADAR NRITHAM
Only women partake in this primitive dance of the Kaadar tribes of the forests of Kochi area. The performers arrange themselves in a semicircle. They hold the tip of their clothes in their hands to the level of the waist and wave it to various rhythms of the dance. It is a very simple but elegant tribal dance in slow steps.
KURUMBAR NRITHAM
Waynad district had different types of hill tribes of which the Kurumbar and the Kattunayakar are the most prominent. They perform a special type of dance which is staged in connection with marriages.
KAANIKKAR NRITHAM
This is a group dance of the Kanikkar tribes. The dance is performed as a rural offering. The steps of the dancers perfectly synchronise with the waving of the hands and the beating of the drums.
PANIYAR KALI
Paniyar are another set of tribals inhabiting the hilly forests of Wayanad district. Their dance is highly masculine and only men participate. Here the dancers numbering about eight or ten stand in a circle with hands linked together. They move around with rhythmic flexions of the body.
MAN KALI
The Ramayana episode in which Sita is being enhanted by Maricha in the guise of a golden deer is enacted in graceful movements.
PARVALLI KALI
It is mixed dance of the aboriginals of the dense forest of Travancore area in which both men and women participate. They dance holding arms together, or shoulder to shoulder, linked in a backlock posture. The dance develops into variety of pleasing pattern, in which the men and women change their positions with amazing speed.
KOORAN KALI
Koorankali is another tribal dance which is similar to Mankali. Here one man takes the role of a wild bear with another enacting the role of a wild bear with another enacting the role of a hunting dog. The movements are perfectly timed to the rhythmic beats of primitive drums. While this is going on, the large number of onlookers who form a circle round the two dancers, shout wild cries of joy with occasional clapping of hands and jerky dances.
THAVALA KALI
Thavalakali is a tribal dance in which a number of participants, usually boys, jump one above the other in succession, imitating the leaps of the frog.
EDAYA NRITHAM
Edaya nritham is the dance of the tribal shepherds. Both men and women participate. One of the shepherds sing. This is repeated in chorus by all the rest. As the singing is going in, one of them imitates the special sounds of shepherds driving their sheep.
MUDIYATTOM
Mudiyattom, also known as Neelilayattom, is a tribal dance in which only women partake. The women stand on small wooden blocks and the dance begins with slow and simple movements of the body which culminate in graceful movements of the head. The uncombed hair of the participants flow down and swing in rhythmic waves.
NAIKAR KALI
This is popular among the tribes in Wynad and Malappuram districts. It is more ritualistic than entertainment oriented. This is performed as pooja to family deities and during marriages.
When the instruments, Thappu and Kuzhal start playing, the naikars begin their performance. With jingling anklets round their legs, they dance round in clock-wise and anti-clockwise movements to the accompaniment of the instruments.
GADHIKA
Gadhika is ritual dance performed by Adiya tribes of Waynad district. The art form is meant to cure ailments. The performance is also done as part of a ritual for having a safe delivery of child.
FOLK DANCES
Kerala has a rich variety of folk dances. They are highly developed and reflect the temperaments and moods of the localities in music and custume. Nature silently and unobstrusively has moulded these dances just as the lives of the people who dance them. Religious colouring is seen in almost all of these folk dances, even in those performed in connection with harvests, sowing of seeds, festivals etc., so much so that their secular nature is always at doubt. There is difficulty in classifying these dances as social, religious and martial. Many of these dances are performed by men alone, some exclusively by women. There are also dances in which men and women perform together. Most of the folk dances are performed to the accompaniment of songs which are sung by the dancers themselves or occasionally by a group of musicians. Some dances are performed to the accompaniment of musical instruments only. In several dances the performers form a circle and clap as they dance. Sometimes, instead of clapping they strike small sticks which they hold in their hands. The customs and ornaments are peculiar to the places to which they belong. The eloquent, effortless ease with which the dances are executed and the overwhelming buoyancy of spirit are wonderful. In these folk dances there is no difference between the performers and the audience. Almost all of these folk dances are simple but beneath this simplicity is a profundity of conception and a directness of expression which are of a high artistic order.

There are more than fifty well-known folk dances in Kerala. Of them the Kaliyattom, Mudiettu, Kolam Thullal, Kolkli, Poorakkali, Velakali, Kamapadavukali, Kanniyarkali, Parichmuttukali, Thappukali, Kuravarkali and Thiruvathirakali are the most popular.
SANGHA KALI
This is also known as Sastrakali, Chathirakali or Vatrakali. Essentially a socio-religious dance which was a very favourite and popular pastime of Namboodiris, it was performed as a votive offering. The origin of Sanghakali may be traced to the numerous gymnasia (known as Kalaris) in ancient Kerala where physical exercises and military training with special stress on physical feats and swordsmanship were given.The last phase of the dance is called Kudameduppu. It is martial in character and actually in the form of combat exercise displaying the skill in swordsmanship and the mastery of techniques in the use of other weapons.
KAIKOTTI KALI / THIRUVATHIRAKALI
Kaikottikali, also known as Thiruvathirakali, is a very popular, graceful and symmetric group-dance of the women of Kerala often performed during festive seasons like Thiruvathira and Onam. It is a simple and gentle dance with the lasya element predominating, even though the thandava part is also brought in occasionally, when men also participate as seen in some parts of the Malabar area. Typically dressed in Kerala style with mundu and neriyathu and the hairbun bedecked with jasmine garlands the women dance in gay abandon, singing melodious Thiruvathira songs which are well-reputed for their literary flourish. One of the performers sing the first line of a song while the rest repeat it in chorus, clapping their hands in unison. Moving in a circle, clockwise and at times anticlockwise, at every step they gracefully bend sideways, the arms coming together in beautiful gestures, upwards and downwards and to either side, in order to clap.
MUDIYETTU
This is ritualistic dance springing form the Bhagavathy cult. The theme depicts the glory and triumph of Bhagavathy over the demon Darika. The characters are all heavily made up with gorgeous costumes, intricate and elaborate and with conventional facial paintings, tall head-gears etc. Attired and adorned exotically with a unique weirdness and hideousness, the characters seem quite supernatural.
KAKKARISSI KALI
Prevalent among the Kuravas of Thiruvananthapuram district, this group dance is very vociferous because of the shoutings of the participants and also the wild beatings of primitive drums like para, veekkan chenda etc.
DAPPU KALI
A group-dance of the Moplahs of Malabar. The performers from two rows of ten of twenty. They beat on the dappu which each dancer holds in his left hand and dance with exquisitely symmetrical swayings of the body and astonishing co-ordination of rhythm steps, flexion of body and timing of dappu.
KOLKKALI
A mixed dance in which both men and women participate. The performers move in a circle, striking small 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.
POYKKULAU KALI
Also known as marakkalattom, this is a still-dance performed in connection with temple festivals. Theme songs are sung in which the fight of the goddess Durga on stills against the Asuras who attacked her in the guise of snakes, scorpions etc., are portrayed. The rhythm is kept by percussion instruments.
KOTHAMOORI
This is a dance prevalent among the Malavans of North Kerala. Models of oxen are made up with leaves and twigs, and carried on shoulders behind which numerous dancers with crude facial marks and skirts made of tender fronds of coconut, dance in exotic jubiliance to the accompaniment of instruments like chenda and kinni ( a bronze plate ).
POORAKKALI
A folk dance prevalent among the Thiyyas of Malabar, usually perfromed in Bhagavathy temples as a ritual offering during the month of Meenam (March - April). Poorakkali requires specially trained and highly experienced dancers quite thorough with all the techniques and feats of Kalaripayattu, a system of physical exercise formerly in vogue in Kerala. Standing round the traditional lamp, the performers, dance in eighteen different stages and rhythm, each phase being called a Niram.
PANNA
This is ritual dance propitiating the goddess Kali. Small temporary shrines are constructed and variously decorated. A branch of the Pala tree is taken round the temple by about 10 to 12 persons who dance all the way to the rhythm set by percussion instruments and to the vociferous shouting and chanting of the accompanying crowd.
SARPAM THULLAL
Many ancient family houses in Kerala have special snake shrines called Kavu. Sarpamthullal is usually performed in the courtyard of houses having snake shrines. This is a votive offering for family wealth and happiness. The dance is performed by members of a community.
AYYAPPAN VILAKKU
Numerous miniature temples are constructed out of tender coconut frond and plantain leaf-stalks. Then songs are sung on the legendary right between Ayyappan and Vavar. In tune with the various rhymes and thythms of this devotional song, two dancers in the costume and make up of Ayyappan and Vavar perform, striking with swords and defending with coconut fronds.
PARICHAMUTTU KALI
This is martial folk-dance which had its origin during the day when kalaripayattu, the famous physical exercise of swordplay and defence, was in vogue in Kerala. The performers dance with swords and shields in their hands, following the movements of sword fight, leaping forward, stepping back and moving round, all the time striking with the swords and defending with shields.
KAAVADIYATTOM
Mainly performed as a votive offering in temples where the presiding deity is Lord Subrah mania. Here a number of dancers dressed in yellow or rose clothes and smeared all over the body with ashes and each with an ornate kavadi on the shoulder, dance in a row to the rhythmic beatings of instruments like udukku, chenda, etc., Sometimes nagaswaram is also used.
BHADRAKALI THULLAL
This is a devotional offering of Pulayas for the deity Bhadrakali. Special pandals are constructed in the fields after the harvest and the dances are performed. They are quite drawn-out and have numerous phases.
VELA KALI
A martial dance of the Nair community. This depicts ancient warfare in Kerala in all its ferocity and valour. Armed with shining swords and shields and dressed in exotic costumes they dance with vigour and force. The dance ends with the victory of good evil.
PURATTU
The wood Purathu means limitation or mimicry. It is a humorous folk-play which many characters like Chettiar, Chettichi, Kuravan and Kurathi are cleverly imitated to evoke laughter.
KAMPADAVU KALI
A war dance which is the legacy of an ancient past. The dance is performed in circles and the dancers utter wild war cries as it gathers momentum. The group formations are many varied and the power and variety of rhythm exquisite.
AMMANATTOM
Ammana is a hollow metallic ball which contains numerous metallic pieces inside. Women perform the ammanattom dance, using four to twenty-four ammanas which are thrown up and caught deft missing none.
THOOKKAM
After worshipping the deity the performers gets over a one wheeled platform over which is the pillar like utholakam. There is a hook at one end of the utholakam to which is attached the backside skin of the dancer. This end is then raised up. Hooked to the utholakam, the dancer is thus suspend in the air almost horizontally in which posture he executes certain physical feats and dance movements and the whole platform is taken round the temple deity thrice.
AIVAR KALI
Aivar Kali literally means the play of the five sets. This is performed by members of Asari, Moosari, Kuravan, Thattan, and Kallasari communities. It is often staged in connection with temple festivals like Velela, Thalapoli etc.
PADAYANI
Padayani or padeni in colloquial speech, is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts). The word padayani literally means military formations or rows of army, but in this folk art we have mainly a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or Kolams of different shapes, colours and designs painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kolam (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird) etc.
THIYYATTU
A devotional offering performed in Bhadrakali temples. A set of performers known as Thiyyattunnis alone are entitles to perform it. The theme is usually the killing of Darika by Bhadrakali. The Unnis first draw the picture of Bhadrakali (called kalam) on the floor, with a five different types of colour powers. Then the dancer in the costume and make-up of Bhagavathy with special head gears, pleated skirts and painted face dances before the Kalam, to the accompaniment of devotional songs.
BHOOTHAM THULLAL
The concept is that the devil-aides (Bhoothams) of Lord Shiva are coming to see and enjoy the temple festival. The make-up of the Bhoothams consists of peculiar costumes, at once colourful and captivating. Large headgears, projecting rounded eyeballs, high-ridged noses, protruding tongue, flowing black hair behind the pleated skirts and overcoats all conspire to make the dancers appear completely supernatural.
KOLAM THULLAL
This is a ritual offering usually performed to get rid of the troubles caused by evil-spirits. Here a number of characters, with hideous make-up and flat big head-gears dance to the accompaniment of primitive percussion instruments.
THEYYAM
Theyyam, otherwise known as Kaliyattom, is an ancient socio religious ceremony performed in Kerala since very remote times. As the word Kaliyattom denotes, this is a sacred dance performance for Kali. Kaliyattom is sometimes called Theyyattom because every thera or village was duly bound to perform it. These names show that Kaliyattoms were special festivals of religious and social importance.
In ancient times every village of Kerala has its own common shrine called Kavu and it was imperative to have Kaliyattom performed in front of it. As the word Kali has also the meaning of "Safety" in Malayalam, Kaliyattom may have the significance of a sacred dance for social or family safety.
The Dravidians were worshippers of the ferocious goddess called Kottavai. To propitiate this goddess a peculiar dance was performed. It would not be mere conjecture to say that the old Kottavai dance performance was the actual foundation on which Kaliyattom took roots later on. As Kerala was primarily a land of people with Sakthi (Bhagavathi) worshippers, the Kaliyattom became very much a part and parcel of the social structure.
Kali worhip made its stronghold especially in the northern parts of Kerala, known as the Kolathirinad, the ancient kingdom of Kolathiri (Chirakkal Raja). Therefore it was Kolathunad (North Malabar) that Kaliyattom flourished more than in any other part of Kerala, In this way, a wide range of Kaliyattom nurtured and developed. With the passage of time along with different aspects of Kali, various other Kolams of heroes and heroines were defined and special Kolams were attributed to them. Thus we find Sankaracharya as Pottan Daivam, Thacholi Othenan as Ponniatu Pataveeran, Katangot Makka as Makkapottu and the great commander of the Kolathiri militia as Vayanattukulavan.
In short, in Kaliyattom, permanent forms and special attributes are given to Kolams and divine as well as hero worship is substantially and methodically carried out.
Each manifestation in a Kaliyattom is known as Kolam. Kolam actually means "shape" or form God, goddess, hero or heroine have their own peculiar and specific forms, and each form has its own particular representative aspect. To bring out that aspect each Kolam has special features in face painting which is a work of difficult craftsmanship and is a unique piece of art. Some Kolams take eight to ten hours time to paint the face according to strict rules of tradition. In the same way the crowns, head dress, breast plates, arm ornaments, bangles, garland and above all the woollen or cotton garments are all so elaborately furnished and variously shaped that the figure of a Kolam is something to see and wonder. It is said that the vivid and masterly ornamental dressing of Kathakali has originated from this.
KURATHIYATTOM
Kurathi are a set of gypsies who go about from place to place telling fortunes. In this dance called Kurathiyattom, two Kurathis first enter dancing, in the guise of characters representing the wives of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Then they stage a controversy through songs over the exploits of their respective husbands. The favourable point in one's favour becomes the butt of ridicule at the other's hands and while one praises profusely the other condemns sarcastically.
THUMPI THULLAL
This is a dance in which only women participate. It is usually performed in connection with the Onam festival. All the girls are dressed in immaculate Onakkodi dress and ist round in a circle. At the centre of the circle sits the performer.
KUMMI
This is women's dance prevalent in Kerala. The dancers move in a circle and the hand gestures singnify reaping and harvesting. One of the women leads the singing with a favourite song while the rest take up the refrain. Each performer renders a new line in turn and the dancing stops when all get tired.
KADUVA KALI
This dance, also known as Pulikali, is performed during the Moharam season. Dancers realistically made up as tigers with appropriate costumes go about from house to house, dancing vigorously to the loud beating of instruments like Udukku, Thakal, etc.
KANNIYAR KALI
One of the centuries old, but well-known folk dance of Kerala, Kanniyarkali (also known as Desathukali) is a fast moving, militant dance from attuned to rhythmic devotional folk songs and asuravadyas. It is said to be a ritual offering in honour of the deity Bhagavathy.
PAKKANAR ATTOM
This art form is performed to drive out evil spirits from hons. It is believed that Pakkanar and his wife visit the hayses. They dance in tune with the beat of different drums. Usually this art form is performed during Onam festival.
KUTHIYOTTAM
This is in vogue in Thiruvananthapuram District, performed mostly in Devi temples. A performer, wearing a crown, similar to the used by the 'Ottanthulal artist, and three other characters, with three different facial make-ups, dance rhythmically to the background of percussion instruments. The songs are in praise of Durga, 'Padapattu', and 'Kalaripattu' and songs in praise of deities. It is usual to have partitioners of red silk at the performing arena.
THIRAYATTOM
Thirayattom is performed as part of festive celebrations in Kavus in Central Malabar. The word thira means lustre and the Thirayattom dance is said to cast radiacne by vertue of his gorgeous array, made all the more dazzling by the blaze of torches, made of clusters of dried coconut fronds.
OPPANA
Oppana is an exquistic folk art form performed traditionally among the muslim community in Kerala. The song and dance programme is performed by females to entertain the bride and by males to entertain the bridegroom.
MARGAM KALI
Margam Kali is an art from popular among the Syrian Christian community of the eastwhile Travancore. This consists of group dances and martial arts like parichamuttu kali. The theme of the songs revolves round the life of St. Thomas.
AADI VEDAN
Aadivedan is an ancient folk art prevalent in certain areas of Kannur district. Aadi and Vedan represent parvathy and siva. All the characters who enact these two roles normally belong to two different communities. It is performed during day time.
ARJUNA NRITHAM
Arujunanritham is a popular dance form in Alleppy and Kottayam districts. This is performed by one or two persons at night and the lighting is done by the traditional lamp called 'Nilavilakku'. Arjunan was proficient in dance among the Pandavas and he is supposed to have danced and sung praising Bhadrakali. Since the lower part of the garments of the dance is made of peacock feathers, the dance is also known as "Mayilpeeli Thookkam"
KUMMATTI
Kummattikali is a mask dance popular South Malabar. The dancers wear brightly painted wooden masks. During onam season groups of dancers donning masks and adorning themselves with leaves and grass go from house to house. The rhythm is provided by vibrating the string of a bow-like instrument called onavillu.

KOTHAMOORIYATTAM
This art forms is proformed in Kannur District. The leader along with the troupe go to each house, play on Chenda and begins to sing. Two characters with face masks made out of the stalk of coconut fronds and with yellow tassels of Kuruthola sing the refrain. Along with this they go through an enactment of comical gestures. There comedy charactors are known as Paniyans. Another character the representation of bull, worn round his waist, dances in peculiar style.
GARUDAN THOOKAM
This dance form is presented in some temples where the installed deity is Badrakali. Two or three dancers in the garb of Gardua, dance of the rhythm of percussion instruments. In imitation of Garuda (the bird king) the dangers preen the feathers with their breaks, carry snakes in the beak, dance with wings spread in circles, in an ecstacy of joy.
CHOOZHIKKALI
After commencing the performance, in a vacant lot, the performers go from house to house and perform this.
The costume of Chozhi consists of dried plantain leaves, tied all over the body. And two horns would be sticking out from the forehead. Kalan and Chitragupta wear black clothes and masks of terrifying aspect with fangs bared.
THALAMKALI (THALIKAKKALI)
This is an art form where physical culture amount much. It is prevalent culture amount much. It is prevalent in Malappuram district. It is said that this used to be popular as a performance during the celebrations of Thalikettu ( a ritual in which the young girls who attain puberty go through a mock marriage)The performers stand in a circle and sing to a rhythm. After that they carry plates in both palms and go through intricate twisting and turning.
THIDAMBU NRITHAM
This is prevalent in Kannur District and in some parts of Kozhikode District, in North Kerala. Namboodiris conduct the dance. Marars play on percussion instruments. One namboodiri to bear the Thidambu, seven players on percussion instruments, two persons to carry lamps, in all ten persons are needed to present this. The dance is performed with the decorated effigy of the Devi carried on the head. Foot work is most important and this is executed to the rhythm of the drums.
THEYYANNAM
This is a ritualistic art, performed by the Pulaya and Kurava communities. Theyyannam is found in Mavelikara, Pandalam and some places in Alappuzha District.When man turned to cultivation, his liking and respect for this began to increase. Though he cultivates different crops, he has a partiality for paddy cultivation. This is the theme of Theyyannam.
THEKKANUM THEKKATHIYUM
Popular in Palakkad and Malappuram Districts. This is handled by the Panars. Their daily profession is the making of palm leaf umbrellas.Two characters (one male and one female) and two percussion instrumentalists form a troupe. The characters sing, exchange dialogues and perform stylished movements, through well defined steps.
THOLPAVAKOOTHU
This is known as Pavakoothu and Nizhalkoothu. Prevalent in Palakkad and Ponnani Taluks. This is handled, traditionally, Pulavanmars. The pavakal, or puppets are made of deer skin, to represent characters in the Ramayana epic. The puppets are arranged behind a long curtain.
MAGACHUTTU
Popular in Thiruvananthapuram and Chirayinkizhu taluks and in Kilimanoor, Pazhayakunnummal and Thattathumala regions.Form among the eight performers, two each, twin around each other like serpents and rising up, battle it out with sticks. The techniques are repeated several times. Sandalwood paste on the forehead, a red towel round the head, red silk around the waist and bells round the ankles. These form the costume. This is a combination of snake workship and Kalaripayttu.
MALAYAN KETTU
This art form is in vogue all over Kannur District. This is fully ritualistic in scope.This is usually performed for the sake of those women who have miscarriages and who are advised by the astrologers to have this ritual.
FOLK PERFORMANCES OF KERALA
BY WOMEN
Ammanattam Kolkali Oppana
Champazhukkakali Koythu Nritham Pakkanar Kuuthu
Chittukali Nritham Krishnaleela Pentharumokkali
Daivakkali Kudamuthu Parunthattam
Kadar Nritham Kumbhattam Pattichikali
Kaikottikkali Kummi Poochakali
Killiyadikali Pulayarkali Sarpam Thullal
Kinnamkali Thiruvathirakali Thumbi Thullal
Thalipeeli Uripinnikkali Valakali
Unjalikali Mudiyattam Vattakkali
BY MEN AND WOMEN
Adiyanthirakali Kolattam Kiliyadikkali Parayan Pooppada
Chattu Kurathiyattam Pulayankali
Chavittulaki Malavettuvan Nritham Sarpam Thullal
Chavittunatakam Malayikkuthu Seethangan
Edaya Nritham Mannankuthu Thacholikkali
Irula Nritham Otten Thullel
Gaddika Paniyarkali Vattakkali
Kakkarassi Natakam Paravallikali Koithu Nritham
FOLK PERFORMANCES OF KERALA
BY MEN
Aleprem Thullal Kolam Thullal Paavakkathakali
Adivedan Kolkkali Pallukali
Aluvelakkali Koorankali Paniyarkali
Andiyattam Kothamuri Pakkanarkali
Aravanamuttu Kothamuriyattam Parichamuttukali
Arjuna Nritham Kovi Nritham Patayani
Chathankali Kozhipporukali Pavakkuthu
Chavittukali Kumba Nritham Poorakali
Chavittunatakam Kummatti Poothamkali
Chavu Thullal Kuthirakali Porattukali
Chozhikkali Kuthiyottam Sanghakali
Dappukali/Daffumuttu Kuttichathanattam Sarpam Thullal
Ezhamathukali Kurumarkali Suuramporu
Garuda Nritham Kuruvarkali Taalamkali
Garudan Thukkam Kuuliyattam Teyyam
Golgandiyattam Maankali Thampurankali
Ivarkali Malamkali Thappukottikali
Kaalakali Malayankettu Thedikkottikali
Kaduvakali Margamkali Theyyannam
Kampeladikali Mariyattam Theyyattu
Kambadikali Mudiyettu Thumbithullal
Kanalattam Naikkarkali Thidambu Nritham
Kannyarkali Narikkolam Tirayattam
Karadiyattam Nagachuttu Vattakali
Kavadiyattam Nayadikkali Vedan Thullal
Kayyamkali Ochirakali Velakali
Kiliithattukali Paana Villadichan Pattu
CLASSICAL DANCES
Classical dances are based fully or partly on the principles and techniques embodied in the ancient Hindu scriptures and technical texts on dance and allied arts. The earliest of these known scripts is Bharatha's Natya Shasatra believed to have been written around the second century B.C. Most of the prevailing systems of classical dancing governed by elaborate techniques with a high degree of refinement have had their origin in the dances of the common people. The difference between classical dancing and folk dancing is mainly that there is a deliberate attempt at artistry in the former. Sophistication along the norms of the scriptures of advance theories on dance and dramaturgy are strictly adhered to. The concept of portraying emotion, the grace of the individual dances and the virtuosity of the isolated poses are all important in classical dances. Emphasis has been given to different aspects of the dance, namely pure bodily movement, aids to dance like theme, song, instrumental music, the expression of emotions, moods and sentiments, the dress, ornaments, makeup and the stage.
Koothu, Koodiyattom, Patakom, Ashtapadiyattom, Krishnattom, Thullal, Mohiniyattom and Kathakali are the most important classical dances.
KOOTHU
This classical dance is performed by the members of the professional Chakyar cast and that too only in Koothambalam of temples. It is one of the oldest of teatrical arts peculiar to Kerala. The term Koothu literally means dance which may be taken as an index of the importance attached to dance in the original form of the art. As a matter of fact, the movements and facial expressions and the signs and gestures employed by the actor in Koothu are said to approximate most closely to the principles laid down in the authoritative Sanskrit treatise on the subject, Bharatha's Natya Sastra.
The actor recites stories from the epics (based on Sanskrit text) interpreting them in Malayalam, enlivening his narration with Thandava dance rhythms and also gestures and bodily postures which are clearly derived from Natya Sastra.
The Koothu is very much dominated by the comic element. Impersonated through mime and gesture and interspersed with occasional dances, the narrative art of the Chakyar is essentially dramatic. Humorous, witty analogies and allusions to topical, political and social events are brought in during the narration and the dancer gets ample facilities for criticizing men and things of local interest. Seldom does he miss an opportunity to make comic comments on contemporary life and society. He ridicules the follies and foibles of the age with impunity.
In actual performance the dancer stands on the platform of the Koothambalam adorned with his special type of headgear and peculiar facial make-up. He then offers prayers to the presiding deity of the particular temple where he is performing. After that he recites a verse from the Sanskrit text from which he intends to expound and then explains it in Malayalam.
The instruments used are a pair of cymbals and the mizhavu which is a big copper drum. A member of the Nambiar caste beats rhythm on the mizhavu at the required intervals. The cymbals are played invariably by women known as Nangiyars.
Koothu presented as a solo item by a Chakiyar is also known as Prabhandha Koothu. Occasionally, it is presented by a Nangiyar women, then it is called Nangiyar Koothu.
PATAKOM
This is another dance form similar to the Koothu in its technical content. But here the dance element is almost given up and the narration is done through an alternating prose and song sequences, the gestures being retained. A new literary form called Champu, which accommodated more and more of Malayalam idiom and vocabulary was used as text for Patakom. Literally means dissertation, patakom is performed by Nambiyars even outside temple precincts.
The dancer has a red head-dress and on the wrist a red silk. There are garlands around the neck and sandal paste lines across the forehead.
KOODIYATTOM
Instead of single Chakiyar a number of performers get together and stage dance-drama. That is why it is called koodiyattom, literally "dancing together" (The beginnings of Kerala dramaturgy can be traced to this dance). Both men and women partake in this performance. Abhinaya is the most important element in Koodiyattom. The texts are always in Sanskrit and the performance is a prolonged affair. It may take anything from a few days to a number of weeks.
All the four types of abhinaya, viz. Angikam, Vachikam, Sathvikam and Aharyam are fully utilized in Koodiyattom.
The plays are performed only in temple precincts as votive offerings. Abhinaya or acting is a three-fold or even four-fold process. Appropriate hand gestures and symbols are first shown when the words of the verse are spoken in a typically modulated tone. As the music is begun, the meaning of the words are translated into a language of bodily postures, attitudes and facial expressions. The third is a repetition of the first.
Koodiyattom is staged on the specially built temple theatre called Koothambalam. The stage is decorated with fruit-bearing plantains and bunches of tender coconuts and festoned with fronds of the coconut palm. A vessel overflowing with paddy is placed on the stage. Lighting is done with a tall oil lamp made of brass. Within a railed enclosure on the stage is a large copper drum called mizhavu with a high seat for the Nambiyar drummer. A Nangiyar woman plays the cymbal and occasionally recites the verses. The musical element is very much suppressed in Koodiyattom. At times special orchestral effects are introduced. The orchestra consists of an edakka, maddalam, a conch, pipe and horn.
There is facial make-up using colour schemes and patterns having symbolic value, though strict standardisation of types is absent. The make-up patterns as seen in the better-known Kathakali are borrowed from Koodiyattom.
In the actual performance, first the drum is sounded and then the Nangiyar woman recites the invocatory verse, (vandana slokam). After that a purificatory ritual of sprinkling holy water on the stage is done by the Nambiyar. Then there is an interlude of orchestra, after which the dance ritual ceremony called kriyachavittuka is performed by the Sutradhara. The next item is the stapana of the particular act. The main character is introduced in the next stage called Koothupurapadu in the background of the tense dramatic sense created by the full orchestra fury. Nirvahana , the next part of the drama, follows. This itself consists of three phases, the Anukrama, the Samkshepa and the Vistara respectively. Purushartha follows in which clown (Vidushaka), caricaturing the moods, is the hero. This is a singnificant departure from tradition and a remarkable feature of Koodiyattom. The drama now begins sluggishly and leisurely throug the long drawn out, detailed and elaborate abhinaya process.
The stage craft is simple, with hardly any stage setting. Koodiyyattom is perhaps the oldest dance-drama in existence in India.
ASHTAPADI ATTOM
This was a popular dance form based on the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva. It was more of a dramatic representation of the renowned lyrical play. Altogether there are only five characters, Krishna, Radha and three females. This form is now almost extinct (instruments chenda, maddalam, elathalam, chengala).
KRISHNANATTOM
A refinement of Ashtapadiattom, evolved by Manavedan, the Zamorin was Krishnanattom. The whole story of Krishna was cast into a drama-cycle which would need eight nights for serial production. Vilwamangalam, a Krishna devotee, helped in designing the costume of Krishna. The actors in this dance drama have to conform themselves to the ballet element and mimetic expression. The narrative song is left to the musicians.
Krishnattom was created as a votive offering and it survives in that capacity in the temple of Guruvayoor where it is still performed. The dance drama is based on the text Krishna-Geeta which is in Sanskrit. Many of the characteristics of the earlier ritual folk dances such as Thiyyattom, Mudiyettu and Theyyam are seen in Krishnanattom especially in the painting of the face in intricate pattenrs, and the use of masks and colourful, gorgeous costumes and head-dresses. The make-up costumes and ornaments used in Krishnanattom are almost similar to that seen in Kathakali, though in Krishnanattom some of the charaters are seen using painted masks made of wood. The gestural language and abhinaya are not very well developed. More importance is given to pure dance (nritta) and the stress is always on group movements and group compositions. All the eight night plays are full of beautiful dances. In no other dance could be seen so many charachers performing the same dance with the same facial expressions, eye movements, gestures, foot-work (and set to the same rhythm) with so much of co-ordination, and grace, e.g., Mullappoochutal in Rasalila (Sree Krishna with Gopoikas) Kaliyamardana Nritham etc.
Maddalam, elethalam and chengala are the musical instruments used.
RAMANATTOM
Legends say that an offshoot of the rivalry between the Zamorin and the Raja of Kottarakara, the later created the Ramanattom, the dance-drama on the life of Rama. It was also for serial enatment on eight successive days. Here facial abhinaya and hand gestures were given more importance. The songs were all in Malayalam. In course of time the masks were discarded and a richer variety in facial make-up was developed. It was this Ramanattom that developed into Kathakali.
KATHAKALI
Unique a month the Indian dance forms, Kathakali is the classical dance-drama of Kerala. Vivid and loquent in its characteristics mudras (hand sings), natural and impressive in gesture, graceful and rhythmic in movement, pleasing in choreography and above all delightful in wealth of imagery, Kathakali ranks high among the Indian dance forms.
For themes Kathakali draws upon the inexhaustible treasure trove of the ancient Puranas chronicling the lives, loves and conflicts of the gods and supermen of Indian mythology.
Noted for its archaic costumes, weird make-up and grand headgears, Kathakali is perhaps the only dance form in India in which the masculine aspect of the dance is preserved in its elemental vigour.
Kathakali as it is known today is not more than three to four hundred years old, even though its actual roots can be traced to at least 1500 years earlier. Kathakali marks the culmination of a long process of evolution during which the various histrionic arts of Kerala had their birth and development and paved the way for the eventual emergence of this composite art. Kathakali also symbolises a blending of the Arryan and Dravidian cultures, for in shaping its technique this dance form assimilated various elements which it borrowed freely from the dances, dramas and ritual performances associated with these cultures.
In reconstructing the history of Kathakali it is necessary to take into consideration practically every type of formalized dance, drama and dance-drama that existed in Kerala prior to the genesis of this art. Such a study should include the earliest types of stylized dance and drama in Kerala such as Chakiarkoothu and Koodiyattom, various ritual dances associated with the cult of Bhagavathi, such as the Mudiyettu, Thiyyattam and Theyyam, the socio-religious and martial dances such as the Sastrakali and Ezhamattukali and the laterly evolved dance-dramas such as the Krishnattom and Ramanattom. The art of Kathakali incorporates the characteristic features of many of these dances and dramas and it is safe to summarise that Kathakali evolved out of these earlier forms.
Kathakali is a complete art constituting three fine arts-Abhinaya (acting) and Nrithya (dancing) and Geeta (music). It is pantomime in which the actors do not speak or sing, but interpret their emotions through highly sensitive medium of appropriate gestures, picturesque hand-poses and vivid facial expression perfectly intelligible even to the uninitiated. Kathakali is both dramatic and a dance art. But primarily it is the former. Histrionics or Abhinaya predominates and that too is of a far profounder type than ordinary dramatic acting. It is not realistic art but belongs to the imaginative type spoken of in Bharatha's Natya Shastra.
Every feeling is idealized and expressed on the face with an intense vividness, which more than compensates for the absence of the spoken word. And every shade of such expression on the face is made to harmonize with the rhythm of the dance and melody of the music. Acting in Kathakali is not merely the expression of the subjective emotions of the human heart, but also an objective realization of the person, scenes, creatures and things around. It actually involves impersonation through the medium of art and herein consists the essential expansiveness of Kathakali, its pictorial splendour and its poetic sublimity.
Music is an important and essential element in Kathakali. The orchestra in it is composed of two vocal musician, one keeping time with a resounding song called chengala and the other with a pair of clanking cymbals called elathalam, a chenda player and maddalam player. The chenda is a cylindrical drum with a loud but sweet sound while the maddalam has the appearance of a big mridangam.
Kathakali music has developed into a distinctive type of singing known as the sopana style which is of a very slow tempo. There is neither raga, ragaalapana as such nor are there elaborations like niraval and swaral singing. Preserving the broad features of the ragas and adhering meticulously to the talas they sing the songs in such a manner as to give the actors full scope for abhinaya. There are two vocal musicians in Kathakali of whom the main one is known as ponani and the minor partner as the sinkidi. The Kathakali songs couched in rich poetic diction are among the gems of Malayalam literature.
The mudras (hand gestures) used as a substitute for spoken language are as much suited, if not more, for the purpose of dance and drama. To the accompaniment of the chenda, the maddalam, the chengala and the elethalam the musicians sing the words of a dialogue from behind, the meaning of which is vividly translated by the actors into the silent language of facial expressions, bodily attitudes and poses and figurations of the hands. As these songs proceed, the actors mute of word but eloquent of expression recreate the epic and bring to life a dream world to sheer fantasy. The actors act and dance in harmony with the rhythm as well as with the sense of the songs. The mudras form and inseparable part of the nrithya and abhinaya.
The characters in Kathakali are all mythological and so the question of their make-up cannot be settled on a realistic basis. They all have set modes of make-up and attire and adornment and are reduced to five main types, according to their real character or qualities. These types are usually known by the predominant color applied to the face or its pattern. These are pacha (green), Kathi (knife), thadi(beard), kari(black) and minukku(polished).
Virtuous and noble characters are in pacha. Proud aggressive and unrighteous characters belong to the kathi type. The bearded type known as thadi are of three varieties. The most aggressive and demoniac are known as chuvanna thadi (red beard), mythical and fabulous beings like the monkey-gods are known as vellathadi(white beard); aboriginals, forest-men and cave-dwellers are known as karutha thadi(black beards). The lowest type of beings like the aggressor are classed as kari(black). The gentle and spiritually inclined character (like women, sages, Brahmins etc.) come under the type known as minukku (polished).

The costume and ornamentation are elaborate and designed to heighten the superman effect. The large overcoats, the flowing scarves, the bulging skirts, the antique ornaments, the stirkingly opulent headdresses with streaming hair flowing down to the waist and covering the back-all create enlarged figures well befitting the sculptured facial features and produce tremendously impressive impersonations.
THULLAL
A solo dance exposition, the Thullal is of three types. Its origin is attributed to Kunchan Nambiar, a veritable genius and one of the foremost poets of Kerala. Though based on classic principles of Natya Shastra the technique of this art is not rigid. The songs, written in simple Malayalam, frank to outspoken wit and humour, the simplicity ofpresentation and the direct appeal to every day life made Thullal very popular.
The instruments used in Thullal are the maddalam and the cymbals. The cymbal player who tunes the rhythm, also assists the actor dancer(Thullakaran) in singing.
In actual performance the cymbal player first sings the invocation song when the dancer faces the orchestra and does obeisance. After that, with his back still to the audience the dancer does a slick flourish of step and body movements. Then he turns to the audience and the dance proper is begun. He first sings a verse and while the lines are being repeated by his musical assistance, he brings out the meaning through facial expressions, hand gestures and bodily postures. The roles of the raconteur and actor are perpetually interchanged with tremendous aesthetic efforts. In one moment he is the narrator but in the next he completely identifies himself with the narration.
It is to the dance that prime importance is given in Thullal. From the beginning to the end there is dance even though it lacks much of variety. To compensate for the monotony, sometimes the dancer executes some vigorous footsteps and rhythmic movements of the body.
Thullal is classified into three different types. Ottan, Seethankan and Parayan based on the difference in costume, dance and also the metre and rhyme of the Thullal songs.
Of all Thullal dances the Ottan Thullal is the most popular. The costume is peculiar and impressive. A long tape of cloth of white and red color is hooked around a waist string to form a knee-length skirt. A chest plate adorned with various types of coloured beads, glass and tinsel and other ornaments is also used. Gaudily painted wooden ornaments are worn at the wrist, and on the shoulders. Tinkling bells are tied to the legs just above the calf. The fact is painted green, the lips are reddened and the eyes are emphasized with black paint. The head-dress is colourfully decorated. The metre and rhyme of the Ottan Thullal songs are very fast, and the dance as such has a high tempo.
In Seethankan Thullal the metre and rhyme of the Thullal songs are a bit more slow than in Ottan Thullal and consequently dance is also slower in tempo. The dancer uses similar skirt as in Ottan Thullal. But the arms, wrists and head are adorned with ornaments made of fresh tender coconut fronds. There is no facial make-up except darkening of the eyes.
The Parayan Thullal is the slowest in tempo. Even the stance of the dancer is different from the other two. Here the dancer almost stands erect and explains the meaning of the songs by gestures. There is very little of the dance element or of action. The costume is also different. A red, flowery clothe is worn around the waist. A crown of black clothe adorns the head. Necklaces are used on the chest. The face is painted with light yellow.
MOHINIYATTOM
Mohini the temptress, is a recurring character in HIndu mythology. Attom means dance. It is seductive dance performed by women, sensuous in its appeal. In technique Mohiniyattom lies somewhere between Kathakali and Bharathanatyam, Lyrical in the extreme its keynote is coquetry. The symmetrical patterns of emotion flow in balanced nuances with smooth footwork, somewhat quickened body movements and special music.
Parallel to the Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu, solo Mohiniyattom dance is performed only by by women. The music is classical carnatic.
As the name implies it is the dance of the charmer. Its origin is a matter of conjecture, but it retains a lovely fusion of the parallel streams of dance in the eastern and western regions of South India. Combining the formal grace and elegance of Bharathanatyam, with the earthy vigour and dynamism of Kathakali the petalled nrita hands of the one with the wide stance of the other, the delicate expressions of the one with the stylized eye movements of the other, it co-ordinates the instinct with charm, subtle allure and seductive appeal. In the rendering of this style there is enchantment, grace delicacy and passion.
The technical structure of Mohiniyattom is fairly similar to that of Bharathanatyam. There are no abrupt jerks or leaps in Mohiniyattom nor is there any inordinately hard stamping of the foot. The gesture language of Mohiniyattom is largely similar to that of Bharathanatyam but it also incorporates elements from Kathakali tradition. And again, like Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattom too has items of nritta, pure dance, as well as nritya, expressional dance.
Mohiniyattom is mainly the Lasya dance performed strictly according to scriptures of Batya Shastra. The repertory of Mohiniyattom as it is presented now consists of Cholkettu, Varnam, Padam, Thillana, Kaikottrikkali, Kummi and Swaram. It is well evident that the Kaikottikali and Kummi are later additions. Because of the special type of instruction associated with it the dance presents striking bodily poses and attitudes and exquisitely graceful foot-work. In its gestures and also with regard to the expression of the eye, Mohiniyattom is indebted to Kathakali.
If in Bharathanatyam the predominant moods are santham and veeram, in Mohiniyattom it is sringaram.
NEO-CLASSICAL DANCES
The neoclassical dances of Kerala represent a delicate fusion of the folk and classical traditions of Kerala's dances. But the fusion is not artistically complete to the extent that homogenous blending of the two dance forms has not been achieved to perfection. The neo-classical dances surfaced at some intermediate stage between the process of evolution from the folk tration to the classical tration. The neoclassical dance thus retain not only the essential flavours of the folk and classical traditions but project distinctive individuality of their own.
MEENAKSHI NATAKOM
Meenakshinatakom and Kamsanatakom are two crude dance dramas which are still in vague in some parts of Palakkad district. There are some scholars who believed that these dance are earlier than even Krishnanattom, Ramanattom etc. According to them, these dances are the Kerala counterparts of Teru Koothu of Tamil Nadu, the Veedhinatakom of Andhra Pradesh and the Yakshagana of Karnataka. But there are others who strongly argue that these two dances are hardly a hundred years old. Whatever that may be, both Meenakshinatakom and Kamasanatakom have the confluence of the characteristics of Mohiniyattom and Kathakali. The lasya of Mohiniyattom and the thandava of Kathakali are well mixed in the dance sequence of Meenakshinatakom. Even the Elakiattom of Kathakali, male characters have to be done by Meenakshi in Meenakshinatakom. The songs are all a mixture of Tamil and Malayalam. The make-up and customs bear considerable resemblance to that in Kathakali.
The characters are all allowed to speak.
DANCHAVITTU NATAKOM
The Portuguese influence in Kerala helped the spread of Christianity along the southwest coast. As a result, a new type of community was slowly brought into existence, which being cut off from its orginal setup, had to look upon the Westerner for cultural sustance. Out of this situation was born a new art form with songs, dialogues and dances, similar to the miracle plays of the West. They are known as Chavittunatakom. The stage settings, introduction of curtains constumes, masks, etc., show the influence of the West.
Genoa, Caralman Charitram, Nepoleon Charitram etc., are some of the important plays.
MODERN DANCES
Contributing to the already rich heritage of Kerala's dance art is the modern dance composition. Although they have no real roots in any of the above mentioned dance traditions they mime the characterstics of tribal, folk and classical type of dances. They manifest the growth and development of Kerala dances. Here efforts are made to combine choreography with classicism and fit traditional dance partners into new moulds. It has revealed a world of charm in its creation bringing a refreshing originality, a delightful native and a winsome simplicity. The Western type of dance forms called opera and ballet have come to be produced in purely local dance techniques.
Opera is a joint work of art produced by the union of poetry, drama, music and all subsidiary arts of the theatre.
Since singing and acting are to be done by the same person, the histrionic element is relegated more to the background. In opera, singers are often preferred to actors. The opera incorporates dances but the dance rhythm is not a continuous matrix in which the drama unfolds.
Ballet has this continuous rhythm, using expressive postures and movements involving the whole body. The mature gestural language of the Kathakali tradition is also mixed sometimes. The ballet relies mainly on instrumental music.
Folklore
Kerala has a folklore which is unique in its richness and variety. Innumerable are the traditions which are current in Kerala. There are traditions about the origin of the State, religious, festivals, temples, etc. The Parasurama legend relating to the origin of Kerala, the St. Thomas tradition relating to the origin of Christianity and the Mahabali legend relating to the origin of Onam have the pride of place among these traditions. Each temple in Kerala has a Sthalapurana which throws light on some aspect or other of early Kerala culture.
Kerala has its own folk tales which deal with certain interesting personalities and their lives. A famous character who figures as the hero of a typical folk tale is Naranath Bhrandan (the eccentric Naranath) whose man pastime was to roll heavy stones upto the top of the hill and then roll them down in order to emphasise the truth that it is not easy for man to reach the top but not at all difficult to lose the position. It is worth mentioning in this connection that the Aithihyamala by Kottarathil Sankunni is a treasure house of folklore and legends current in different parts of Kerala.
The people of Kerala belonging to all castes and communities have their rich collection of folk songs which deal with a variety of themes. They mirror the joys and sorrows and the hopes and aspirations of the common people. The Vanchipattukal or boat songs sung by those who row the boats either during boat festivals or ordinary trips deal with diverse themes of human interest to the common man. The labouring classes who earn by the sweat of their brow have their own characteristic songs which inspire them to put in their best by singing them in chorus. Special mention may be made in this context of the Vadakkan Pattukal (Northern Ballads), the Tekkan Pattukal (Southern Ballads) the Palli pattukal and the Mappila Pattukal. The Vadakkan Pattukal and the Thekkan Pattukal deal with the exploits of the heroes and heroines of old. The Pallipattukal composed by Christians for being sung on marriage occasions contain a large admixture of Syriac, Latin and Tamil words. Many of them deal with Church history and lives of Saints. The Mappila Pattukal are the folk songs of the Mappilas (Muslim) of Malabar composed in colloquial Malayalam and sung in a distinctive tune. They are composed in a mixture of Malayalam and Arabic and have a special charm of their own. They deal with diverse themes such as religion, love satire, heroism, etc. The Mailanchi Pattu, the Oppana Pattu and the Ammayi Pattu belong to the category of Mappila Pattukal dealing with love and marriage and they were sung in chorus in connection with marriage festivals till recently. The Mappila songs of various types form part of the heritage of Malayalam today.
Theatre
Kuthu and Kudiyattom are the earliest of the theatrical arts of Kerala. The Tamil epic Silappathikaram refers to the performance of 'Kuthu' in the theatre hall by a Kutta Sakkaiyan of Paraiyur in order to entertain the Chera king Senkuttuvan and his queen. This is clear evidence of the antiquity of 'Kuthu' as an art form. 'Kuthu' is a monoact in which a single actor, the Chakiar, acts the role of all the characters to the accompaniment of mizhavu (a close - necked copper metal drum) played by the Nambiar and cymbals played by the Nangiar (Woman of the Nambiar community). The Chakiar expounds puranic stories punctuating his narration with illustrations from contemporary life. He enjoys unfettered privilege to crack jokes even at the expense of the dignitaries present in the audience and the latter have no right to report. Kudiyattam is a theatrical art which presents a full-fledged drama or select portions thereof. More than two or three actors appear on the stage at the same time as in a modern drama. The Chakiar performs the role of the male characters and the Nangiar that of the female characters. The Nangiars also sound the cymbals and recite the Sanskrit verses which the Chakiar enacts. A feature of Kudiyattam is that there is a Vidushaka or clown who recites the Malayalam translation of every Sanskrit verse enacted by the Chakiar. The Attaprakarams and Kramadipika of poet Tolan give detailed guidance in regard to the mode of acting.
Kudiyattam is not today such a popular art as Kathakali and it is performed only in a few major temples like Irinjalakuda, Perumanam, Kottiyur etc. Its failure to reform itself in response to the needs of changing times is responsible for the decline in its popularity as a performing art. Nevertheless, the contribution of Kudiyattam to the evolution of the Kerala stage is substantial. It is performed in temples within multi-pillared theatres called Kuthambalams built by expert architects according to the norms laid down in Bharatamuni's Natyasastra. The Kuthambalam is a typical specimen of Kerala architecture. It is also a store - house of the finest sculptures, particularity wood carvings. The ceiling of the Kuthambalam is a typical specimen of Kerala architecture. It is also a store - house of the finest sculptures, particularly wood carvings and paintings depicting scenes from the Epics and the Puranas. With Kudiyattam becoming an obsolete art the Kuthambalams are no longer constructed in Kerala temples. The old Kuthambalams in temple premises now present a deserted look. It deserts mention that the Kuthambalam architecture has recently influenced the construction of a unique theatre or Natyagriha in the Kerala Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthi.
Chavittu Natakam which is now almost defunct is theatrical art evolved by the leaders of the church, under the guidance of the Portuguese missionaries, as a Christian alternative to the Hindu Kathakali. It presents stories from the lives of Christian saints and the history of Christianity. Unlike in Kathakali, the actors in Chavittu Natakam not only speak and sing but also stamp on the wooden platform with their feet to the tune of songs and beating of drums. It is because acting and stamping from important elements in Chavittu Natakam that it has come to be called so. The movements of the actors on the stage are more lively and vigorous than graceful or artistic. Women are not allowed to participate in Chavittu Natakam. Music, vocal and instrumental, has an important place in this art. Though it developed as the Christian counter part of Kathakali, the Chavittu Natakam is modeled more after the European Opera and Ballet than after Kathakali. The stage in Chavittu Natakam was an unusually large one and it could accommodate as many as fifty actors at a time along with the members of the orchestra.
In modern times Malayalam drama as a form of popular entertainment has acquired enormous popularity. In the latter half of the 19th century the translation of Abhijnana Sakuntalam by Kerala Varma Valia Koyi Tampuran and its successful presentation on the stage gave a fillip to Malayalam drama. The successful enactment of Tamil musical plays by drama troupes from Tamil Nadu in different parts of Kerala helped to hasten this trend. The composition of a series of short plays with historical themes by C.V. Raman Pillai and their enactment by amateur clubs in Trivandrum marked a turning point in the evolution of modern Malayalam theatre. Dramas with social themes soon replaced historical plays. Special mention may be made of V.T. Bhattatiripad's Adukkalayil Ninnu Arangathekku and K. Damodaran's Pattabakki. With the increasing popularity Malayalam drama as a medium of popular entertainment professional troupes like the KPAC, the Kalidasa Kala Kendram and Kalanilayam have made their mark in the field in recent times. Thus the professional theatre has come to acquire its place in the social and cultural life of modern Kerala.
Music
Music like dancing, had its origin in the primitive dances and plays, developed by the ancient people in propitiation of the deities of the hills and forests. The development of such art forms as Kuthu Kudiyattam, Astapadi Attan, Krishnanattam, Ramanattam, Kathakali etc., gave a fillip to music in later days. An indigenous classical music called the Sopanasangita developed itself in the temples of Kerala, in the wake of the increasing popularity of Jayadeva's Gita Govinda or Ashtapadi. The Kathakali padas composed by a galaxy of scholars like Irayimman Thampi and the Tullal songs of Kunjan Nambiar also enriched the musical culture of Kerala.
The reign of Swati Tirunal, the ruler of Travancore, is called "the Augustan Age of Kerala Music". A great patron of music, he attracted to his court some of the gifted musicians of the age. In collaboration with his Guru Meruswami who was well-versed in Hindustani and Karnatic music, Swati Tirunal composed a number of songs in popular ragas in a variety of languages. Four musicians from Tanjore by anme Vativelu, Ponnayya, Chinnayya and Sivanandan, otherwise known as the "Tanjore Quartet", lived in his court. To Vativelu goes the credit for the introduction of violin in Karnatic music. The Tanjore brothers were also highly gifted in Bharata Natyam and under their influence Swati Tirunal composed Varnas, Swarajits, Padas and Tillanas for staging this dance form. Subbukkutty Ayya, a master of Vina, was also leading light in Swati's court.
In addition to the musicians mentioned above who came to Swati's court from outside Kerala, several gifted local musicians also enjoyed his patronage, the most celebrated among them being Shadkala Govinda Marar. Marar was a rare musical prodigy. He devised a Tamburu with seven strings instead of the usual four. He also achieved the unique distinction of being able to sing pallavis into six degrees of time and this won for him the title Shadkala. At Swati Tirunal's instance, Marar went on a futile mission to Tiruvayyur to fetch Tyagaraja to the royal court. Tyagaraja was so much impressed by an inspired musical performance of Govinda Marar at the place that he composed and sang on the spot that famous Telugu song "Entaro mahanubhavalu, Anstariki Vandanamu" (There are ever so many great men in this world and I bow to all of them). Two other Kerala musicians who adorned Swati's court were Paramesware Bhagavatar of Palghat and Maliyakkal Krishna Marar. Irayimman Tampi, a close associate of Swati Tirunal, was also a musician and composer of high calibre who lived in the royal court and collaborated with the Maharaja in his efforts to promote the cause of cultural development.
The tradition of Kerala in the field of music has continued unsullied in modern times. To the galaxy of modern Kerala musicians belong such stalwarts as Vina Kalyanakrishna Bhagavatar, Kathakalashepam Anantarama Bhagavatar, Palghat Mani and Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar who have substantially enriched Karnatic music by their valuable contributions.
Kerala has developed its own typical temple arts in which instrumental music plays an important part. Chenda Melam which is played with such instruments as Chenda, Kombu, Kuzhal etc., is a feature of all temple utsavams. Tayambaka which involves the elaborate display of talas on a classical piece of drum (Chenda) is also typical of Kerala. It is performed in several sessions, each session having its climaxes and anticlimaxes. Panchavadyam is another unique art in which the sounds emanating from five musical instruments, (Maddalam, Idakka, Timila, Kombu and Elathalam) and two auxiliaries, Sankku (Conch) and Kuzhal, in varying pitches are synchronized. As in Tayambakam so too in Panchavadyam, each session lasts for hours. Nagaswaramelam, otherwise called Pandimelam, is another set of Vadyams played in connection with temple pujas and on such auspicious occasions as marriages.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS OF KERALA
Musical instruments are classified as Ghana (Idiophonic instruments which are struck against each other, Avanadda (Membrophonic percussion instruments like drums) Sushira (Aerophonic wind instruments) Tata (Cholodophonic stringed instruments)
Idophonic
Aramani Chandravalayam Chengala Elathalam
Thalara Kaimani Kinnam Kool
Kuzhithalam Piriyankoolu Ponthi Villu
Wind
Cheenam Kaalam Kombu Kurum Kuzhal
Kuzhal Nagarwaaram Otakkuzhal Peepi , Sankhu
Percussion
Aravana Chenda Chettivadayam Dakka
Davil Dolu Edakka Kadumthuti
Maddalam Mattaalam Mrindangam Mizhavu
Murasu Nagaari Nagaaram Para
Sudhamaddalam Tammittan Thappatta Tappu
Takil Toppi Maddalam Timila Tudi
Udukku Urumi
Stringed
Nanthuny Pullavan Kudam Pullavan Veena Tamboru , Veena
Painting
Kerala has a tradition in the field of painting as is evidenced by the murals in temples, places and churches. The murals of Tirunandikkara (now in Kanyakumari District) and Tiruvanchikulam are reckoned as the earliest specimens of Kerala painting. These have been assigned to the period from the 9th to the 12th century A.D. Most of the murals now seen in Kerala temples belong to the period from 15th century onwards. The murals in the Sri Padmanabha temple, Trivandrum, depicting Puranic themes are noted for their remarkable finish and grace and they belong to the period from the middle of the 17th to the 18th century when the pictorial art enjoyed full State patronage. The Vishnu temple at Trikodithanam, the Siva temples at Ettumanur and Vaikom, the Subramonia temple, Udayanapuram, the Vadakkunathan temple, Trichur, the Krishna temple, Triprangode are among the many temples of Kerala which contain exquisite mural paintings.
Mural paintings with Hindu religious themes may be seen in the main places. The Padmanabhapuram palace has its topmost floor (Upparika malika) more than forty murals depicting such themes as Anantasayanan, Lekshminarayana, Krishna with Bopis, Nataraja as Dakshinamurthi, Sastha on hunt etc. The bed chamber (Palliyara) and four other chambers in the Dutch Palace, Mattancheri, contain murals depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Hindu mythology. The Krishnapuram Palace at Kayamkulam has preserved a large panel on Gajendramoksham which has been assigned to the first half of the 18th century. The Natyagriha recently built in the Kalamandalam at Cheruthuruthi (1977) contains the latest specimens of mural paintings in Kerala.
The churches of Kerala contain paintings which depict characters and scenes from Christian mythology. The paintings of Virgin Mary in the churches at Edappalli and Vechur are of deep religious significance to the devotees. The Orthodox Syrian churches at Cheppad at Mulanthuruthi contain interesting murals. The outer walls of the Kanjur church have a huge mural which depicts the scene of a battle fought between the armies of Tipu Sultan on the one side and those of the English East India Company, aided by the bare - footed local militia, on the other.
Swati Tirunal, the great ruler of Travancore, extended generous patronage to the art of painting. Alagiri Naidu, a distinguished painter from Maduraj adorned his Court. He gave training in the art of painting to Raja Raja Varma of the Kilimanur royal family and the latter in his turn trained up his talented nephew Raja Ravi Varma. The well-known European oil painter, Theodore Jenson, also initiated Raja Ravi Varma into the technique of European oil painting and helped him to achieve international renown. The innumerable pictures of Gods and Goddesses painted by Raja Ravi Varma which adorn most of the Hindu homes all over India are even today objects of mass worship. Raja Ravi Varma's own sister, Mangalabhai Tampuratti, specialised herself in painting pictures of women and children which won universal appreciation from connoisseurs of art. In modern times, Kerala produced two outstanding painters, viz., K. Madhava Menon and K.C.S. Panikar. The former excelled in the portrayal of plant and animal life. A refreshingly original style of his own is Panikkar's legacy in the field.
Architecture
Kerala has made its notable contributions to the science of architecture, both secular and religious. The Tantrasamuchaya, Vastuvidya, Manushyalaya-Chandrika and Silparatna are well-known treatises on the subject.
The Manushyalaya Chandrika is a work devoted to domestic architecture. The traditional Kerala house is a quadrangular building called Nalukettu constructed strictly in accordance with the principles of Tachu Sastra (Science of Architecture). It was located in a self contained compound and was specially designed to cater to the needs of the huge tarawads of old under the Marumakkathayam (matrilineal) system. The Nalukettu was so called because it consisted of four blocks viz., the Vadakkini (northern block), Padinjattini (western block), Kizhakkini (eastern block) and Thekkini (southern block). The house was generally built of laterite plastered with Chunam and the roofs were tiled or thatched with the leaves of palmyrah or coconut trees. The wood work of the building was usually solid and beautifully carved. It may also be noted that the old palaces of Kerala represent the style of traditional domestic architecture. The most important palaces that deserve mention are the Padmanabhapuram Palace (Kanyakumari District), the Dutch Palace at Mattancheri and the Krishnapuram Palace near Kayamkulam. In recent times domestic architecture has undergone significant changes in style and design. The houses are now built only to accommodate single households. Cement concrete houses have taken the place of the traditional houses made of brick set in either mud or lime.
The Kerala temple has a district architectural style which has been acquired as a result of a long process of evolution. The rock-cut temples are among the earliest known of the temples of Kerala and they are assigned to the period prior to 800 AD. They come mainly under two groups, the southern group and the northern group. The former includes the rock-cut temples of Vizhinjam, Madavurppara, Kottukal and Kaviyur and the latter of those of Trikkur, Irunilacode and Bhrandanpara. The Saivite cult dominated the architectural style of the temples of both these groups. Those of southern group are of Pandya origin and of the northern groups. Those of southern group are of Pandya origin and of the northern group of Pallava origin. In addition to these two groups of rock-cut temples, there is also the rock-cut temple of Kallil near Perumbavur which is at present a Bhagavathi temple, but was formerly a Jain Shrine.
The structural temple of Kerala had its origin during the 9th century A.D. The Krishna temple at Trikkulasekharapuram near Tiruvanchikulam and the Kizhthali Siva temple nearby are dated to this period on the basis of inscriptional and stylistic evidences. The origin of the Kandiyur Siva temple is ascribed to 823 AD on the basis of clear inscriptional evidence. In the course of centuries Kerala evolved its distinctive types of temple architecture each of which is associated with some area or other in the State. The Kerala temples have been built in square, rectangular, circular, apsidal and elliptical ground plans. The dominance of the circular shrine is a unique feature of temple architecture in Kerala. The southern half of the State has a preponderance of circular shrines. The apsidal temples lay scattered all over the west coast up to Trivandrum but there is a concentration of this type in central Kerala. The rectangular and elliptical ground plans can be seen only in a few temples in Kerala. As the rectangular plan was more suited for enshrining Vishnu as Anantasayanam, the Sri. Padmanabha Swami temple, Trivandrum, follows this type. The Siva temple at Vaikom is built on the elliptical plan. It may also be noted that majority of the Kerala temples have walls made of laterite blocks, but some made entirely of granite except the superstructure may also be in wood carvings, representing Puranic stories. The slopping roof and the lavish use of wood have also invested the Kerala temples with a distinct style of their own.
In the early period the Christians of Kerala seem to have built their churches after the model of Hindu temples, as is evidenced by the alleged action of Vasco-da-Gama in entering a Kali temple at Calicut mistaking it for a Christian church. They adopted for their churches the temple plan comprised of a four-sided sanctuary with a large pillared hall in the front. The church had also a tower which, like the Sikhara above the Garbhagriha of the temple, soared to the maximum height. The indigenous tradition which influenced church architecture continued without break till the coming of the Portuguese in 1498 AD. As part of their policy of Latinisation of the Church is Kerala, the Portuguese introduced innovations in the design of church buildings. The massive arch replaced the thick entrance door and stained glass windows were installed to allow more ventilation. The sanctum chamber (Madubaha) was attractively ornamented with statues made of wood or clay as well as with beautiful wall paintings. The first church to be built in the new style was Santo Antonio, the present St. Francis church, Cochin. The St.Francis church provided the model for the construction or more churches in India.
In modern times styles of church architecture from outside have influenced the construction of churches in Kerala. The Puthen Palli at Trichur with its arches, vaults, steeples, flying buttresses and stained glass windows has been built after Gothic style. The St.Joseph's Cathedral of the Latin Christians at Palayam, Trivandrum and the Kothamanglam church are Romanesque in their architectural style. The St.Thomas Pontifical shrine, Kodungallur, resembles the St. Peter's Church in Rome. The new Orthodox Syrian church at Kolancherri (the church of St.Paul and St.Peter) is one of the finest specimens of modern church architecture in Kerala.

Mosque architecture which drew inspiration from Persian and Turkish tradition in north India had no influence on mosque architecture in Kerala till recently. The traditional Kerala mosque is a simple two-storied building with tiled roofs. Its outer walls are built on a basement similar to that of a Kerala temple. It has a central hall meant for prayers with corridors on all four sides. As in the case of temples and churches wood has been used profusely in the construction of the Kerala mosques. But there are a few mosques, like the Jumamasjid at Palayam, Trivandrum and Puthiya Palli at Calicut in Kerala now which are reminiscent of the Islamic style of architecture prevalent in north India.
Sculpture
The stone and wood carvings of Kerala show the high level of sculptural excellence attained by Kerala artists. The earliest specimen of stone carvings in Kerala may be seen in the Edakkal Mala in Sultan's Battery in Wynad. They depict human and animal figures and objects of human use and symbols. It has not been possible to fix the date of these stone carvings with any degree of accuracy. In the rock-cut temples of the post-Sangam period, mentioned earlier, are found some of the specimens of early sculptural art. While the sculptures in the southern group show traces of Pandyan influence, those in the northern group are reminiscent of Pallavan influence. The stone images of the Buddha sittings in the yogasana posture discovered from such places as Karumadi, Mavelikkara, Bharanikkavu, Maruthurkulangara and Pallikkal are also among the finest examples of early Kerala stone sculpture. They are believed to show traces of the influence of the Buddhist art of Sri Lanka. The Jain images of Parswanatha, Mahavira and other Tirthankaras obtained from such places as Kallil, Chitaral, Sultan's Battery, Pallikunnu etc., also form an invaluable part of the sculptural heritage of Kerala.
The temples of Kerala contain exquisite sculptures, particularly in stone, which exhibit diverse influences such as Pandya, Chola, Vijayanagar etc. The figures of deities and animals and of dance scenes on the walls and balustrades of temples are typical of the temple sculpture of Kerala. The Trikkodithanam Vishnu temple (11th century) is noted for its two Yazhi panels depicting two types of ancient Kerala dances, viz., Kudaikuthu and Kudakuthu. The Parasurama shrine at Tiruvallam has interesting panels depicting animals like elephants and lions. The Siva temple at Kandiyur has exquisite stone sculptures depicting puranic legends and myths. In the Haripad Subramonia temple there is an imposing stone figure of Hanuman, with its face looking upwards. The sculptures in the Sri. Padmanabhaswami temple, Trivandrum, the Janardana temple, Varkala and the Siva temple, Vaikom, are the products of the influence of the later Vijayanagar and Nayak styles. The Sri Padmanabhaswami temple is, in fact, a treasure house of all that is best in the 18th century stone sculpture. The Kulasekhara mandapa and the Siveli mandapa in this temple are embellished with masterpieces of stone sculpture belonging to the 18th century. The scenes from the Puranas and the Epics and the story of Bhagavatham have been executed with remarkable finish and grace in small relief's.
The churches of Kerala have also enriched the sculptural tradition. In many churches may be seen huge granite Cross erected on beautifully carved granite platform, eg., the churches at Kaduthurthi (Valiapalli), Changanacherry, Kanjur, Ankamali and Kuruvilangadu. A familiar piece of sculpture seen in churches is the one depicting the scene of the Crucifixion. The baptismal fonts or basins used in the churches for carrying out be sacrament of Baptism are fine examples of stone sculpture. A unique piece of sculpture seen in some Kerala churches is the Persian Cross. It is formed by the inter-section in the centre and at right angles of two bars equal in length bearing inscriptions. The wings of this Cross also end with floral designs. Among the most famous of Persian Cross is the one seen at the churches at Kadamattom, Kaduthuruthi, Kottayam, Parur and Alangad.
The wood carvings in Kerala temples show the art at its best in the same way as the stone sculptures. The most common of the wood carvings are seen on the namaskara mandapas. They depict figures of Navgrahas on the ceiling and Puranic figures on the rafters and beams. The Kuthambalams are also noted for their fabulous wood carvings, as for example, those in the temples of Subrahmonia at Kidangur and Haripad. Wooden walls with beautiful carvings are also seen in several temples. In addition, there are wooden bracket figures, sculptural columns etc. The Mahadeva temple, Katinamkulam, the Sri Mahadeva temple, Kaviyur, the Narasimha temple, Chathankulangara, the Sri Vallabha temple, Tiruvalla, the Sri Rama temple, Triprayar and the Krishna temple, Trichambaram are some of the temples noted for exquisite carvings.
Wood carvings of excellent quality may be found on the altar, the pupils, the doors, the beams and the ceilings of some of the churches. The St.Thomas church Mulanthuruthi, the Cheriapalli at Kaduthuruthi, the churches at Koratti and Irinjalakuda, the St.George's church, Edappalli, and the All Saint's Church, Udayamperur are among the churches noted for their wood carvings. "The Last Supper of Christ" carved in wood in the Mulanturthi church is a star attraction.
Handicrafts
Industrial arts and handicrafts form an invaluable part of the Cultural heritage of Kerala. Metal crafts have the pride of place among the traditional arts. Bell-metal casting is an old time industrial art. It has involved mainly two kinds of activities. Images or idols of deities made out of copper, bronze and brass are used for consecration in temples and other religious purposes. Huge Varpus (shallow basins of hemi-spherical shape), multi-layered lamps and household utensils are all made of these metals. These products are noted for their high degree of perfection.
Lamps of the most artistic beauty are also made by Kerala craftsmen. The Greek lamp (Changalavatta), the Archana lamp, the Arati Dipa etc., deserve mention in this context. The Aranmula metal mirror has attained fame among the products of the bell metal industry. A product of an accident in metal casting, it is made of an alloy of copper and tin and resembles the glass mirror in every respect in point of utility. The Koftagari work, one of the popular metal crafts of India, is also being practiced by a few artisans in Trivandrum. Figures of deities, landscapes, floral designs and fancy articles of a wide variety are produced in Koftagari.
Wood craft is one of the ancient arts of Kerala as is testified to by the temples and churches of the State which abound in wood carvings. Items of furniture like chairs, tables settees, sofas, almirahs, cots, radio castings etc., and models of animals and deities, toys and Kathakali accessories produced by Kerala craftsmen are very much in demand. The models of caparisoned elephants and the carvings of Kathakali dance-dolls are items of popular demand.
The craftsmen of Kerala have also developed a variety of handicrafts using the rich wealth of flora in the State. Screwpine mat weaving is one of such handicrafts. Such articles as pillow covers, cushions, vanity bags, purses, hats etc., are also made of screw pine. The art of weaving bamboo-reed mats, baskets and fancy articles is also one of the simplest of Kerala handicrafts. Kora grass is similarly used for making mats of different sizes and colours. Rattan is used in the manufacture of articles of daily use like chairs, settees, teapoys, cradles, trays, shopping bags and a variety of other utility-cum-fancy articles. The coconut shell is used for the manufacture of such articles of utility and beauty as lamp stands, flower vases, ashtrays etc. Coir carpets and mattings produced in many attractive designs and colours find a ready market in India and abroad.
Lace and embroidery work of high quality is being done by women in several parts of Kerala. The Talangara village of Kasargod taluk is famous for the textile cap making industry. The cotton caps manufactured here find a ready market in the African and Gulf countries.
Ivory carving is another traditional art of Kerala. The art was given an impetus by Swati Tirunal Maharaja. An ivory throne made by Swati Tirunal is still preserved as a show piece. The craftsmen engaged in this art at present produce a variety of models of mythological characters, animals, birds, cigarette cases etc., to cater to different tastes. A typical specimen of ivory carving produced in Kerala is that of the snake boat (Chundan vallam) and it is cherished by tourists to the State as a memento. The craftsmen engaged in ivory carving also use other materials like the buffalo born for practicing their art.
The jewelry of Kerala is noted for its artistic perfection. Each caste or community had its typical ornament. An ornament of the Nair women was Nagapadam or serpent hood, so called after the shape of the pendant. An ear ornament called Toda, a double convex disc, was worn after dilating the earlobes. Mukkuthi was an ornament for nose and Kappu for the wrist. The most important ornaments for the neck were Addyal, Yantram, Avil Mala and Puli Nakham. Cherutali was a kind of necklace worn loose over the breast by Namboodiri women while Kasu Mala and Oddyanam were used by Tamil Brahmin. A kind of heavy guilt brass ring called Mekka Motiram was worn by Christian women after boring their ears in several places. Ottezhapathakkam, Kombu, Tala etc., were also typical Christian ornaments. Though most of the traditional ornaments mentioned above have become defunct now, the Kerala women are still found of ornaments, and jewelry items like necklaces, bangles, chains, earrings, studs etc., are now made by Kerala goldsmiths in a variety of attractive designs.
Apart from the main crafts described above, there are also a few others which deserve mention. Granite carving is one such art, which is mainly centred in Chengannur. The granite workers manufacture a variety of articles like idols, household equipment, pillars, survey stones etc., which are in great demand. The manufacture of musical instruments like Chenda, Maddalam, Mridangam, Edakka etc., is done in some places. The costumes and accessories required in Kathakali and Teyyam are being manufactured by some craftsmen. In Tellicherry, the home of Indian circus, the peculiar kinds of umbrella required by circus companies are manufactured. Being a maritime State, Kerala has its own handicrafts based on marine materials. Conch-shell articles like paper weight, pin cushions, ashtrayas, studs etc., are made by craftsmen in the Trivandrum area. In Kasargod area articles like bangles, vanity bags and name boards are made of glass beads. Thus the legacy of Kerala in the field of arts and crafts is a rich and varied one.

Fairs and Festivals of Kerala
Introduction
Kerala, cut off as it is from the rest of India by the Western Ghats, is noted for its rich culture, heritage and other distinctive characteristics. Keralites have the rare capability to imbibe and assimilate lofty ideals and principles wherever they find them. Religious tolerance, hospitality, cleanliness, simple life and broad outlook of the people have attracted many a foreigner to the State from time immemorial, besides her scenic beauty, pleasant climate and rich natural resources.

History has helped the Malayali to develop a cosmopolitan outlook. Kerala had contacts with the rest of the world for several centuries in the past. The important trading centres of Kerala had relations with Egypt, Asia Minor, China, Assyria, Babylonia, Greece, Rome, Malaya, Philippines, Java and Sumatra. The Kerala Kings and chieftains provided them with all possible assistance not only to carry on trade, but also to settle down here and propagate their religions. It is believed that the Apostle St. Thomas landed on Kerala in 51-54 A.D. St. Thomas established seven churches in the State in places like Palayar, Niranam and Thumpoly. Cheraman Juma Masjid at Kodungalloor, the first Juma Masjid in India, was set up under the patronage of the Raja of Kodungalloor. Tradition has it that 10,000 Jews came to Kerala soon after destruction of their second temple in their homeland in 72 A.D.

There is an ancient Jain temple near the Palakad town. There are thus hundreds of instances of the Hindu rulers of the princely states of Kerala who made land and wealth available for the construction of churches and mosques. In some cases even temple buildings were given to establish institutions of other religions. Thousands of Namboodiris, the then caste-Hindus and even kings like Cheraman Perumal, changed their religions. Another notable feature is that there is no antagonism between one religion and another. Lord Ayyappa, an important deify of the Hindus, had close friendly relations with a Muslim, Vavar. It is further to be noted that many churches and mosques in Kerala are situated adjacent to temples suggesting that communal harmony and religious tolerance are an essential part of Kerala's culture and heritage. Even the responsibility for organising certain ceremonies and rituals of some of these institutions is vested with the local people belonging to other communities. Fairs and festivals of the places of worship are programmed in tune with the cultural background and heritage of Keralites. In short, 'Keralisation' of the festivals of different communities is the unique feature of Kerala life.
MAJOR FESTIVALS
ONAM
The National Festival of Kerala.
A legend of Kerala is about the sweet memories of a period of peace and prosperity in the distant past when Mahabali, a celebrated emperor of the Asuras, was supposed to be ruling over this land. His period is believed a have been the golden age in the history of the country. A popular folk song narrates the glories of that period. When Mavely ruled, all men were equal, they were leading a life of happiness and nobody had any calamity-thus goes the song. There was neither dishonesty nor deception, nor was there any instance of false utterance, use of counterfeit measures of other kinds of unfair practice. Perfect harmony, communal and otherwise, prevailed. In short it was ideal welfare state, the legend tells us.
But this golden age came to a tragic close when Mahabali was expelled from his Kingdom by Vamana , the dwarf incarnation of Vishnu. Thus by the designs of the jealous Gods, the glorious reign of the Asura emperor came to an end. But his grateful subjects, request that their former ruler might be permitted to visit the land once a year, was granted. The time for his annual visit was in the first Malayalam month Chingom (August-September) and this occasion became one of Jubilation throughout the land, reminiscent of the prosperous times of Mahabali.
Whatever be the truth behind this legend, Onam has for last several centuries been a grand national harvest festival in which all sections of the people participate with extreme Jubilation.
As has been mentioned earlier the festival falls in Chingom, the Malayalam month corresponding to August-September. The festival is supposed to begin from the lunar asterism Atham which falls ten days before the asterism Thiruvonam. The preparations for the celebration begin on the Atham day. The Thiruvonam is the most important day of the festival. In the front yard of the house Athapoovu (floral decoration) is made for ten days from Atham to a Thiruvonam. The idol of Thrikkakkara Appan made of clay is placed in the middle of the floral decoration, a clear example of the aesthetic sense of the Malayalam who do it with a sense of devotion.
On the Thiruvonam day every one bathes and offers worship in temples early in the morning. Then the gayest new garments are put on. Presents are distributed to the younger members of the family. Then follows the onam feast of delicious food served on plantain leaves. Members of families, staying far away from native places make it a point to visit their ancestral homes to celebrate the festival in the company of their kith and kin. Keralites celebrate onam by organising community feast, cultural programmes, etc.
After the feast there will be sports and games, both indoor and outdoor, in which both men and women of all ages participate. Mack fight, ball games, card and chess play are the favorites of the menfolk whereas women find pleasure in `Oonjalattom, thumbithullal, Thiruvathirakali, Kaikottikali, etc. Boat races (regatta) also form another item of onam festival which attract thousands of people including tourists from outside the state.
Of late, the state Government itself has taken the initiative to celebrate Onam season as tourist festival with the motive of attracting tourists. Various cultural formS, old and new, are presented in all important towns in the state during the Festival
VISHU
Among the various Hindu festivals in Kerala, Vishu occupies a unique position in more than one respect. As symbol of the unostentatious Malayali, Vishu is free from the usual pomp and show and merry-making associated with other festivities. When almost all the festivals are connected in some way or other with religion, Vishu has nothing to do with it, though it is observed with religious solemnity. The first day for Medam is the unchangeable day of Vishu, whereas other festivals are determined according to the lunar asterisms on which they fall.
This day on which Vishu falls is the astronomical new year day and it is celebrated as such. The Malayalis believe that the fortunes for the year depend upon the nature of the object one sees first in the morning of Vishu Day. In order to fulfil the desire to look at the auspicious articles, they prepare a 'Kani' (anomen) on the previous day for seeing in the next morning. In circular bell-metal vessel known as 'Urule' some raw rice is put and over it a folded newly washed cloth is spread. A golden coloured cucumber, betel leaves, betel nuts, metal mirror, yellow flowers of Konna tree (cassia fistula), a Grandha (book of palm leaves) and a few gold coins are then placed over the cloth in the vessel arranged in a decorative fashion. Two coconut halves containing oil and lighted wicks are also placed in the vessel which illuminate the articles inside it. A bell-metal lamp filled with coconut oil is kept burning by the side of the vessel. Early in the morning of the Vishu at about 5 O'clock, one of the members of the house, usually the eldest female member gets up and lights the lamp and looks at' Kani' . She wakes up other member, one after another and the Kani is shown to everyone of them, taking particular care not to allow anyone to look by chance at other things. The vessel is taken to the bedside to the members or if it is too big to be carried, it is placed at one spot and the members are led there blind-folded. Even the cattle are not deprived of this privilege, as the Kani is taken to the cattle-shed and placed before them to have a look.
The next item is giving of handsel (Kaineetom). The eldest member of the family takes some silver coins and gives them to a junior member with some raw rice and Konna flower. This is repeated in the case of other members also and they in turn give such handsel to their juniors, relatives, servants etc. After this the children begin to fire crackers.
In the morning all talk bath and put on their forehead the marks of ashes and sandal paste and go to the temple for worship. After worship, they prepare a feast which is moderate and elegant.
In certain parts of Kerala, where the paddy cultivation commences after the monsoon, there is an observance called chal (Furrow) closely associated with Vishu . This is nothing but the auspicious commencement of the agricultural operations, in the new year.
Customs and manners may change from region to region, but the belief of the Malayali that his fortune for the year depends on the first thing he sees on the astronomical New Year day, is shared by the people of other countries also in different forms. For example, in European countries there is a belief that the first person who enters a house on the New Year day is supposed to have an influence on the inhabitants of that house for the whole year.
What has been offered to the readers in the foregoing paragraphs is only a resume of the fairs and festivals of Kerala, which we do not claim as exhaustive. Some of Kerala's fairs and festivals have a religious character and others secular. Some are rooted in hoary myths and other connected with man's attitude towards nature, fertility and harvest. Some of the festivals are of a universal nature. Whatever be the origin of the fairs and festivals of this land, whether religious or secular, whether some of them are celebrated within the entire country or even outside, Kerala has given them a colour and tenor of her own.
In spite of all their difficulties and tribulations, the people of Kerala have a joyous approach to life. This innocent joy is given vent in all the fairs and festivals of the land. This is also the secret of the different castes festivals of each other and contributing to a truly cosmopolitan life.
NAVARATHRI
The Navarthri dedicated to Devi, the Divine Mother is celebrated all over India. In some places it is called Dussehra, in some other places `Kalipuja' or `Saraswathi Puja' and in still others, `Ayudha Puja'. During Navarathri days the Divine Mother is worshipped in one or the other of her different manifestations namely Durga, Saraswathi , Kali, etc. The Puja in connection with Navarathri is known as Bhuvaneswari puja which means, the worship of `Universal Mother'.
The festival is celebrated during the first nine days in the bright half of Aswina namely September-October. The last three days of the Navarathri are called Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadasami, and they are considered more sacred than the other days for Devi worship. It is believed that by offering prayers to Devi during these three days one can attain the full benefits of observing the Navaratiri rites for the whole period.
People of Kerala celebrate Navarathri in a befitting manner. The Saraswathi puja and Ayudha Puja are performed. The Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped as the Goddess of Learning, the deity of Gayathri, the fountain of fine arts and science, and the symbol of supreme vedantic knowledge. The importance of Ayudha Puja (the worship of implements) on this occasion may be due to the fact that on the Vijayadasami day, Arjuna took back his weapons which he had hidden in a Vani tree in order to lead a life in disguise for the promised period of exile. It is believed that one who begins or renovates his learning to work on the Vijayadasami day will secure a grand success as Arjuna did in Kurukshetra war.
On the Durgashtami day a ceremony called Poojavaipu is performed in the evening . In a village, generally, it is done only in certain households, in temples and also sometimes in the village schools. The Brahmin houses and the houses which enjoy reputation for learning, mainly take the lead in celebrating the festival. The members of other houses in the village attend the ceremony performed in these houses or institutions.
In a well-decorated room, books and grandhas (holy books) are tastefully arranged with a picture or an image of Goddess Saraswathi in front. In certain poaches weapons and implements are kept by the side of books and garandhas. Then a Puja is performed to Saraswathi during which fruits, beaten rice, roasted paddy (malar), jaggery etc, are offered to Her. These offerings are distributed among those present when the Puja is over. Just before the Pujavaipu, all studies and work which mainly require skill, are suspended.
The following day is known as Mahanavami and it is totally devoted to the worship of Saraswathi. Pooja is performed both in the morning and in the evening. Many more items such as rice, payasam, thirali, etc are also offered to Devi along with the items mentioned above.
On the Vijayadasami day after a Puja in the morning, the Books and implements are removed from the room and this ceremony is called `Puja Eduppu'. The time for the break up of the puja marks the beginning of learning and work. Learning and work commence at this auspicious moment.
Literates, in general write the alphabets on sand and read a few sentences from sacred books. Similarly the craftsmen and other skilled workers do some work using their implements. At this auspicious moment the children for the first time are given instructions to write the first few alphabets on rice or sand. They are thus initiated into the world of knowledge.
This is called `Ezhuthinu Iruthu' or 'Vidyarambham' and according to custom only after this ceremony child becomes entitled to write or read.
There are certain communities which celebrate the festival on all days of Navarathri. Images of Gods, animals and toys of different variety are arranged for exhibition and this performance is called `Koluvaipu'.
Unique is the Navarathri celebration at Sree Padmanabha Swami Temple at Thiruvananthapuram. Apart form the usual pujas and rituals, classical music recitals are held on the Navarathri mandapam every night during the festival in which luminaries of Carnatic music participate. Started by Maharaja Swathithirunal this is a cultural event that the Musicians and instrumentalist look forward to with enthusiasm and expectation.
DEEPAVALI
Deepavali, the festival of lights, is held throughout India. In Kerala, this is celebrated only by HIndus. It falls on the preceding day of the New Moon in the Malayalam month Thulam (October-November). It is celebrated in commemoration of the destruction of the demon called Narakasura by Lord Krishna. As Lord Krishna killed Narakasura on the Chaturdasi day (the fourteenth lunar day) it is also known as Narakachaturdasi.
Before sunrise, all in the house have their oil bath and put on new cloths. Sweets are then served followed by bursting of crackers.
The word 'Deepavali' means an array of lights. The people of Dwaraka greeted Lord Krishna with illumination and rejoicing in honour of his victory over Narakasura. The darkness of the Chaturdasi night compelled them to use many lamps on the occasion, and subsequently the illumination became a part of this celebration.
It is the practice in south India to consume a preparation of dry ginger and jaggery soon after the oil bath on the Deepavali day. Dry ginger and jaggery form the Nivedya (offering) for Dhanwantari, the great exponent of Ayurveda. The Dhanwantari Jayanthi falls on the eve of Deepavali. The separate observance of this day had come to an end and enjoying the preparation of dry ginger and jaggery fallen to succeeding day namely Deepavali.
Deepavali may have deeper significance than what is popularly believed. At the time of the festival the sun is in the house of Thulam (Libra ie. the scales) which signifies commerce, and hence the association of Deepavali with merchants and the Goddess of wealth. The darkness and light symbolise ignorance and knowledge respectively.
As the light dispels darkness, ignorance is replaced by knowledge. There is a prayer in the Upanishat. 'Thamaso ma Jyothirgamaya' ie. "carry us from the darkness to light" some people are of the opinion that Deepavali, the festival of lights, symbolises this prayer.
Light has always been the symbol of the highest ideals of man, and the festival of light, is celebrated all over the world in different forms. The 'feast of lanterns' in Japan and the 'All souls Eve' once practised by the folk of early christendom are examples.
MAHASIVARATHRI
The Mahasivarathri is essentially a religious festival unlike the Onam and Thiruvathira. The word means `the great night of Siva. According to the Sivapurana, it falls on the Krishna Chathurdasi day which is on the fourteenth day during the warning of the moon in the month of Megha, though in some years it may occur in Phalguna also. In Kerala the month of Kumbham is noted for the Sivarathri festival which falls in February -March.
The festival is said to commemorate the day on which Siva protected the world from a total annihilation either by drinking the deadly Kaalakoodum poison which was held up in his neck, or by effecting a healthy compromise between Brahma, the Creator and Vishnu, the Protector.
The Mahasivarathri is considered a very important day for fast and Siva worship.
Though the observance of Sivarathri rites promises both material comfort in this world and bliss in the other, it is mainly observed for securing the latter, While some Hindus abstain from every kind of food for the whole day, others content themselves with one meal. People cluster round the Siva temple and after bath smear their bodies with holy ashes and keep on reciting the prayers to siva. Pooja to Siva is kept up all the night. Strict vigil is kept in the holy night. Early next morning people bath once more, worship Siva and return to there are Siva temples where Kavadiyattom is of great significance in the celebration of the Sivarathri festival.
There is no other place in Kerala where Sivarathiri is celebrated on such a grand scale as in Aluva. The celebration of Sivarathri in Aluva is as famous as the festivals like Ashtami at Vaikom, Pooram at Thrissur etc. The celebration of Sivarathri at the Siva temple at Aluva on the sand bank of River Periyar is attended with great eclat. Here the Lingom (idol) of Siva rises out of the sand on the bank of the river. The sand bank is extensive and the pilgrims running into several thousands congregate here. People belonging to all classes, castes and creeds assemble for this festival, some for worship, some for merchandise and some for sight-essing. There are rows of sheds built where merchants exhibit every kind of merchandise for sale. There are shows, dances etc. meant for keeping the pilgrims awake throughout the night. In addition to the observance of Sivarthri rites, most of the pilgrims offer Bali (sacrifice) to their ancestors in the morning succeeding the holy night.
In many respects the Sivarathri festival in Kerala can be considered a miniature Ardha Kumbha Mela held at Thriveni, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga-Yamuna, and the invisible Saraswathi.
CHRISTMAS
Christmas celebrated to honour the glory of the nativity of Jesus on 25th December is the most significant and spectacular of Christian festivals. No other celebration is so enriched with so many customs and ceremonies. There is an array of spectacles like Christmas Star, Christmas tree, the Crib, Christmas cake, Christmas presents and the Christmas Father. The last named is quite a fascinating personage, who claims above all to be the very embodiment of the most vibrant and quintessence of the gayest of all the festivals. Children allowed to occupy the central stage, in the enchanted company of Christmas Father, Christmas takes on the look of a festival of children. The mood is set with the advent of the season by the twinkling of Christmas stars and there is no home or shop without the Christmas star, the beautiful pointer to the Babe of Bethlehem. The Christmas tree is a new feature in Kerala, perhaps less than sixty or seventy years old. The crib is a miniature production of the stable where Jesus was born. It developed from the old practice of giving dramatic expression to the events and the surroundings of the birth of Christ. Carols and songs developed from earlier nativity plays have become one of the most cheerful spectacles of the festivities.Priests hold mass in churches three times starting with the first at mid-night. Just before the mid-night mass, an image of the Child is brought by the priest, preceded by rows of Children holding lighted candles that are placed in the crib. The hymn 'Gloria in exelcis Deo' is intoned admidst the explosion of crackers. A sumptous lunch with rate delicacies is a significant feature of the celebration. Meat forms part of the feast even in rural homes where meat is rarely eaten. Cake has also become common in the villages where women have learnt to make it. In Kerala, X'mas retains its homeliness and expresses itself in the cultural forms of the country without losing what is native to itself.
EASTER
Easter is the oldest Christian festival, as old as Christianity itself. The Central tenet of Christianity is not the birth of Jesus, but his resurrection. Easter derived from this paschal mystery and from the events of Good Friday.
The content of Easter was gradually analysed into historical events and each began to be celebrated on a different day. As a result, Easter grew into a Holy Week and came to have a preparatory season to precede and a festive season to follow. Thus we have four distinct periods in connection with the observance of Easter - 1. Lent, the forty preparatory penitential days. 2. Holy Week including the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 3. the Octave of Easter (classical time for Baptism) and 4. the paschal season or Easter time extending over forty more days. On Holy Thursday the Lord's supper is held in the evening. The washing of feet is a remarkable trait, emphasising the love for one another. At home there will be the rite of the pashcal bread. After supper, the 'cross cake' is brought out and cut into pieces. A piece is broken, dipped into sauce and handed over to each member of the family in due order. Good Friday is a day of grief when churches are empty and dark. Services are held in the afternoon. In most churches one finds a bitter drink prepared from leaves, vinegar, etc for everyone to taste after the service. Holy Saturday is a day of mourning and wailing. A total silence reigns the church from morning to dusk. But by ten at night the church is full to observe the Easter Vigil. In the gloom which envelops the church, new fire is struck from flint and blessed. A big candle is then consecrated and from it is lighted many candled indicating the resurrection. Bells peal, music fills the air and light floods the hall. Hallelujah is the joyous word of Easter wish.Easter Sunday is a quiet day and the celebrations rather spiritual and inward rather than social and showy. There will be grand dinner at homes and visit of relatives.
MILADI SHARIF
Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam, was born on the 20th April, 571 AD. Muslims all over the world celebrate the birth of the Prophet in various ways. In Kerala the practice of large scale celebration of the Prophet's birthday is of recent origin. Reading what is commonly known as the Maulod' which is a short biography of the Prophet written both in verse and prose in the Arabic language has been the common ritual of the day. Of late in Kerala, there has developed another practice connected with the Miladi Sharif. Night lectures are organised during the first twelve days of the month when Muslim Ulemas through their discourses enlighten the people on the various aspects of the life of the Prophet. Thus through the celebrations connected with the Miladi Sharif, the Muslim masses get an opportunity to be enlightened on the life and teachings of the Prophet.
The celebration of the Miladi Sharif in certain parts of the State, for instance Ponnani, is marked by busy activity connected with large scale feeding of the poor. Here in the Muslim Centre, one finds that the town is active during the whole night busily engaged in the charitable work of supplying food to the poor.
Recently Miladi Sharif celebration has assumed greater importance in Kerala. On this occasion colourful processions are taken out through the towns reciting Thakbir. These processions finally converge on some central place where public meetings are held These public gatherings are addressed by well-known speakers who deals with the various aspects of the Prophet's life. Such meetings are often attended largely by non-Muslims also.
MUHARRAM
Muharram, the forbidden month, is the opening month of the Hejira year. The 10th day of the month is celebrated by the Sunnies as well as the Shias all over the world. It was on this day that God is believed to have created Adam and Eve and that the Pharoah of Egypt and his countrymen were drowned in the Red Sea by the will of the Almighty. Again it was on this day that the most lamentable carnage at Kerbala took place in 680 A.D. when Imman Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet and his men met with their end in an agonising manner. On this day the Jews observe fast. The Prophet enjoined on the Muslims to observe fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram. It was to commemorate the victory of the Jews over Pharoah that fasting was enjoined upon Muslims on these days. For the Shia Muslims, Muharram is an important occasion for religious ceremony. The Sunni Muslims do not celebrate Muharram, but the devout Muslims among them observe fast.
`Pulikali' or `Tiger-dance' is part of this celebration in Kerala. Some Muslims assume the guise of tiger by painting their whole body to bring out the appearance of tiger, wear masks and parade through streets, palying, dancing and mimicking a tiger. This is done to idealize the valour of Hussain.
RAMADAN
Idul-Fitr, of late known by the misnomer `Ramadan' is one of the two festivals of Islam. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar year. During this month the Muslims Observe fast, giving up all kinds of food and drinks during day time, and spend the major part of the night in devotion and prayer. Purification of the body and soul is the main aim of this observance.
When the crescent appears on the western horizon heralding the end of the month of fasting , it marks the beginning of the Idul-Fitr festival. Because this festival is connected with the month of Ramadan, it came to be known as `Ramadan'. The Idul-Fitr festival starts with the commencement of the first day of the month of `Shawwl'. The first item of the celebration is distribution of food materials to the poor and the deserving. Any person who holds food in excess of the day's need must necessarily make his contribution in accordance with the scales prescribed by Islam. Muslims all over the world celebrate this festival with great eclat and in gratitude to God.

BAKRID (IDUL-AZHA)
Bakrid, to be rightly called Idul-Azha or the festival of sacrifice, is the second of the two festivals of Islam. This festival is observed by Muslims all over the world. It falls on the 10th of Dhul-Hagg, the last month of the lunar year. It is celebrated in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to offer his only son as a sacrifice at God's command.In Kerala as in other parts of the world, this day dawns with the resounding of Thakhir (Allahu Akbar), the declaration that God is great. Every Muslim house wakes up with the spirit of sacrifice and festivity. Men, women and children, dressed themselves in their best attire and reciting the Thakbir, proceed to Id-Gah which is the wide open space set apart for public prayers. The whole atmosphere is filled with the resonance of "Allahu-Akbar". The Assembly then prepares for the congregational prayer led by the Imam. After the ceremonial Id prayer, the leader addresses the devotees, exhorting them to be conscious of their duties to God and follow the example of Abraham. The prayer and the sermon over, the gathering exchange greetings and as an expression of affectionate brotherhood, hug each other. The festivity at home commence after the ceremonial prayer with hearty feasts followed by social visits. Women enjoy this occasion by paying visits to the neighbouring houses and engaging in singing and dancing. All festivals of Islam have some religious significance and are occasions to express their gratitude to God.In Kerala on the occasion of Bakrid, special meetings are held in which distinguished members of sister communities participate. This occasion serves to foster brotherly relationship among members of various communities. A spirit of tolerance, mutual understanding and universal brotherhood pervades such gatherings.
Temple Festivals
ARATTU at THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (Sree Padmanabha Temple)
Aratt festival is the closing ceremony of the ten day festival in the Lord Padmanabha temple at Thiruvananthapuram. There are two such festivals every year. One takes place in the Malayalam month of Thulam (October-November) and the other in Meenam (March-April). The Arattu is a ceremonial procession of the Lord at the close of the ten-day-festival. The previous night, there is a procession called pallivetta inside the fort encircling the temple.
On the day of the Arattu, His Highness the Ex-Maharaja enters the corridor of the temple, and after some rituals, the procession takes out through the eastern gate with the accompaniment of nagaswaram, drum etc. His Highness with sword in hand and escorted by armed guards, infantry, mounted police, officers etc. leads the procession to the Sanghumugham beach. A caparisoned elephant goes in front with drum on its back, that is beaten to indicate that the God is coming in procession. Six more caparisoned elephants follow. The procession leaves the temple gate at about 5 PM and takes about an hour to reach the seashore. As the procession leaves the ramparts of the fort, a salute of 21 guns is made. On reaching the beach the ceremonial bath is taken in the sea.
AMBALAPUZHA ARATTU
The Sree Krishnaswamy temple at Ambalapuzha dedicated to Parthasarathy was established by the Chembakasserry Pooradam Thirunal-Devanarayanan Thampuran in the year 790 M.E. He offered his state to Sree Krishna and ruled the country as his regent after assuming the name of Deva Narayana. The Arattu festival of this temple commences with the flag hoisting ceremony on the Atham day in Meenam (March-April). The important Arattu Utsavam, however, takes place on the Thiruvonam day in Meenam. 'Velakali' is an important feature of this festival. The famous Ambalapuzha Palpayasam (a milk pudding of exceptional sweetness) is the important offering of this temple.
ARANMULA UTHRITTATHI
For ages, Keralites have cherished a reverential attitude to rivers. When the weather becomes delightfully pleasant and the nature exults in her full glory, it is the apt time for Keralites to hold the Jalotsavam (water - carnivals). Boat race is in a way a display of physical might of the people who forget their differences in partaking in this sport. In that respect, the boat race is symbolic of the Jalotsavams in Kerala. The most famous is the Aranmula Snake Boat Race conducted on the Uthrittathi day of Chingom (August-September). On Thiruvonam day in Chingom when the national festival of Onam begins in Kerala, Aranmula, a village in Chengannur taluk, is unusually cheerful and gay.
The famous snake boat carnival on the Pampa held annually at Aranmula on the day of Uthrittathi asterism in connection with the Onam festival is to commemorate the crossing of the river by Lord Krishna on that day. The deity is supposed to be in all the boats that take part in the carnival and all of them are expected to arrive at their destination simultaneously. There is thus no element of competition in the Aranmula Boat Race as in other regattas held in this district and elsewhere. The race is not conducted to win any trophy or prize. The crew regard the occasion as one for rejoicing and merry-making and cheerfully row up and down the river to the tune of songs. Even though the festival is of Hindu origin and is associated with the Parthasarathy Temple, it is an all-community affair and participants include members of all classes and communities living in and around Aranmula. The festival is now being organised under the auspices of the Palli Oda Seva Sangham, a popular organisation of the boat owners. It constitutes a national festival for the people of Central Travancore and special boats and buses ply to carry the people to witness the event. During the races, the banks of the river on either side, for a distance of about three kilometeres, would be thronged with millions. In recent years, the festival attracts spectators from all parts of the country and even from abroad. The Valla sadya is an important vazhipadu (offering) in the temple on this occasion.
The snake boats at the Aranmula regatta present an enchanting as well as imposing spectacle. They are of extraordinary shape. About 100 ft. long, the end of the boat is curving upwards with the front portion tapering gradually. The rear portion would be towering to a height of about 20 feet. The boats resemble snakes with their hoods raised. A 150 - crew including oarsmen, singers and ruddermen man each boat which is gaily decorated for the occasion. The occupants carry banners and ornamental umbrellas of silk and gold. It is doubtful whether there is any other national festival resplendent with such an aura of spiritual devotion, endearing friendship, sportsman spirit, majesty and rapturous delight as the Aranmula boat race. Similar Snake-boat races are organised at Champakkulam and Paippadu in Kuttanad, the rice bowl of Kerala, during the Onam days.
ASHTAMI at VAIKOM
The Mahadeva Temple at Vaikom is one of the most famous and oldest Siva temples in Kerala. The utsavam in this temple is celebrated for twelve days during the dark lunar fortnight of Vrischikam, (November-December) the Ashtami falling on the last day. During the night on the Ashtami day the deities of the neighbouring temples will be ceremoniously brought in procession to this temple.
ATTUKAL PONKALA
There is an ancient Bhagavathy temple (Mudipura) at Attukal in the Kaladi ward of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation. The most important festival in this temple, generally known as Attukal Ponkala commences on Bharani day in Kumbhom (February-March) and continues for nine days. The festival begins with Thottampattu (a song about Bhagavathi) which goes on during all the nine days. On the ninth day, several thousands of women assemble in the temple compound with ponkala pots and the required quantities of rice and other ingredients for ponkala.
KUTHIYOTTAM AND KETTUKAZHCHA In Chettikulangara Temple
Chettikulangara temple near Kayamkulam is one of the famous Devi Temples in Kerala. The Bharani Utsavan celebrated in Kumbham (February-March) in this temple is quite an event to the local people as well as to those residing in the neighbouring villages.
CHITTUR KONGANPADA
Konganpada is a grand festival of historical significance celebrated in the Bhagavathy temple at Chittur' ten kilometre from Palakad town. A unique festival it is held every year on the first Monday after the dark lunar night in Kumbham (February -March) to commemorate the victory of Nairs of Chittur over the militia of Konganadu (Coimbatore) led by the Chola King Rajadhi Raja.
ETTUMANOOR FESTIVAL
Ettumanoor is located 12 Kms north-east of Kottayam town. The ancient Siva temple here has brought glory and fame to the place. Myths have it that the Pandavas and the sage Vyasa had worshipped at this temple. The name of the place had its origin from the word 'manoor', which means the home of deer.The arattu festival of this temple is celebrated on a grand scale on the Thiruvathira day in Kumbham (February-March) every year. Large number of people flock to this temple on the 8th and 10th day of the festival when seven and half elephants made of gold (nearly 13 Kgms) will be held in public view. The temple, the wealthiest Devaswom in Kerala, has many valuable possessions.
GURUVAYOOR FESTIVALS
Once of the famous temples in India, Guruvayoor is situated in an out-of-the way village in Chavakkad taluk, though it draws a vast concourse of pilgrims from every part of the country. Devotees are thronging to this temple not to see and appreciate the variety of its structural patterns or to revel in the festivals celebrated there, but only to feel the air of benediction that pervades this famous shrine of Guruvayoorappan and to invoke his blessings.
The important religious festivals celebrated in this temple are:
1. Ashtami Rohini in Chingom (August - September)
2. Sukla Paksha Ekadasi in Vrischikom (November-December)
3. Kuchela Day in Dhanu (December-January) the day on which Kuchela visited Sree Krishna with beaten rice.
4. Dhwaja Prathishta day (Erection of flag staff in the temple) on Makayiram Asterism in Makaram (January- February).
5. Vishukkani in Medam (April)
6. The ten days Utsavam commencing from Pooyam Asterism in Kumbhom (February-March).
HARIPAD TEMPLE FESTIVAL
Sree Subrahmonia Swamy temple, at Haripad, is one of the oldest and most important temples devoted to Lord Subrahmonia. It is situated at the 53rd Kilometre on the Kollam-Alapuzha highway. Annually three festivals are celebrated in this temple, of which the Chithira festival is the most important. It takes place in Medom (April-May). The procession with the golden peacock throne is quite attractive.
KANATHURKAVU UTSAVAM
Kanathurkavu is an ancient Hindu temple in the heart of Kannur consecrated to the Goddess Mahadevi and later to Sree Rama also. During the annual festival in April, thousands of people go there to witness Theyyattom, dance ritual of the Mahadevi and other Gods.
KAPPALLY KUMBHAM THIRA
There is a temple about half a kilometre to the east of the Kappally palayat temple. This is the Kappally temple where the Thira festival is conducted annually from 3rd to 13th of Kumbham (February-March) every year. The most important day of the festival is the 12th of Kumbham.
KODIYETTU UTSAVAM AT THIRUVARATTUKAVU BHAGAVATHI TEMPLE, ATTINGAL
The Kodiyettu Utsavam of this temple, dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy, is celebrated in memory of the consecration of the temple. Commencing on the Makayiram day in Vrischikam, (November-December) it ends on the Uthram day.
KODUNGALLOOR BHARANI UTSAVAM
Kodungalloor the ancient capital of Kerala lying about twenty miles north-west of Ernakulam had a hoary past.
The Kodungalloor Bhagavathi temple is one of the wealthiest temples in Kerala. Bhadrakali born of the third eye of Samhara Rudra, killed the demon Darika. It is to commemorate this event that the famous Bharani festival is celebrated in the Kodungalloor Bhagavathi temple in Meenam (March-April) every year.
KOODALMANICKAM UTSAVAM
The ancient and historic Koodalmanickam temple is situated in the Manavalassery village, about nine kilometres from the Irinjalakuda railway station. The deity of this temple is Sree Bharatha who is generally not found consecrated in Kerala temples. This temple is in the true architectural pattern of Kerala temples. The festival here is held annually for all days in Medom (April-May) from Utram to Thiruvonam asterisms.
KUMARANALLOOR THRIKKARTHIKA UTSAVAM
The Kumaranalloor temple is situated in the Perumbaikad village of Kottayam Taluk.
KOTTUVALLIKKAVU KUMBHA BHARANI
The Kuttuvallikkavu Bhagavathi temple is situated 15 kilometers to the west of the Aluva railway station in the Kottuvally village of Paravur taluk. This temple is said to have been built by Kottaukal Padanayar from Kodungalloor (Cranganore).
LOKANARKAVU UTSAVAM
Lokamalayarkavu, or Lokanarkavu Bhagvathi temple as is familiarly known, is situated at Memunda, six kilometers east of Badagara in North Kerala. Two festivals are celebrated here annually in the months of Vrischikam (November-December) and Meenam (March-April). The festival in Vrischikam is known as Mandalavilakku, which is the most important one.
MANNARSALA UTSAVAM
In olden time every Hindu family in Kerala has a serpent-grove. Mannarsala, situated to the north-west of Sri.Subramanyaswamy temple, Haripad, is the seat of the famous temple of Nagaraja (God of Serpents), the largest of its kind in Kerala . Built in a grove the temple is reputed for having 30,000 images of snake-Gods.
On the day of Ayilliam asterism in the months of Kanni and Thulam (September and October), all the serpent idols in the grove and the temple are taken in procession to the illam (family connected with the temple) where the offerings of Nurum Palum (rice flour and milk), Kuruthi (a red liquid made of turmeric and lime) and cooked rice are made. The oldest female member of the family carries the idol of the Nagaraja and the procession is conducted with great pomp and rejoicing.
NELLIKULANGARA VELA
In the Vallanghi village of Chittur Taluk , there is a beautiful temple dedicated to goddess Bhagavathi . The keity of this temple is called Nellikulangara Bhagavathi . To invoke the blessings of the Goddess, the people of Vallanghi and Nemmara conduct a festival of 20th Meenam (March-April) every year. This is the famous Vallanghi vela.
THRISSUR POORAM
The most colourful temple festival of Kerala, Thrissur Pooram, attracts large masses of devotees and spectators form all parts of the State and even outside.
Celebrated in Medom (April-May) it consists of processions of richly caparisoned elephants from various neigbouring temples to the Vadakunnatha temple, Thrissur. The most impressions are those from the Krishna temple at Thiruvambadi and the Devi temple at Paramekkavu, both situated in the town itself. This festival was introduced by Sakthan Thampuran, the Maharaja of erstwhile Kochi state. The Pooram festival is also well-known for the magnificent display of fireworks. It is celebrated by two rival groups representing the two divisions of Thrissur Paramekkavu and Thiruvambadi vying with each other in making the display of fireworks grander and more colourful. Each group is allowed to display a maximum of fifteen elephants and all efforts are made by each party to secure the best elephants in South India and the most artistic parasols, several kind which are raised on the elephants during the display. The commissioning of elephants and parasols is done in the utmost secrecy by each party to excel the other. Commencing in the early hours of the morning, the celebrations last till the break of dawn, the next day.
Of the rival groups participating in the Pooram, the most important ones are those from Pramekkavu and Thiruvambadi. At the close of the Pooram both these groups enter the temple through the western gate and come out through the southern gate to array themselves, face to face, one from the round and other form the Municipal Office road. This spectacle is highly enchanting. Although this grand festival is known as Thrissur Pooram, it is in fact the conclusion of the eight -day Utsavam of nine temples.
The procession of the Thiruvambadi Pooram to the grounds of Vadakkunnatha Temple and back is not only important, but also quite enlivening. The marvelous as well as magical effect of the Panchavadyam, a combination of five percussion and wind instruments, is to be felt and enjoyed.
SABARIMALA SHRINE
For many centuries Sabarimala in the south has been an important pilgrim centre attracting lakhs of devotees from all over India, especially from the southern states. The presiding deity at Sabarimala is Lord Ayyappa known as Dharma Sastha, who is considered a symbol of unity between the Vaishnavites and Saivites, his origin being traced to a union of Siva and Vishnu under special circumstances. He is also believed to have fulfilled his mission in life and rejoined his Supreme Self enshrined at Sabarimala. Some scholars say that Sastha images seen all over Kerala are those of Lord Budha, but there are others who dispute this theory.
The temple is situated in the interior of the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats Sahyadri, and it is inaccessible except on foot. Pilgrims have to negotiate long shelter of the thick forests and tall mountains in fested with all sorts of wild animals.
Pilgrimage to Sabarimala cannot be undertaken at all seasons, because it requires long preparation and fixed timings. A devotee who wishes to perform the pilgrimage should undergo forty-one days' Vritham' (penance) consisting of strict celibacy, morning and evening ablutions, growing of beard and daily prayers. Saranamvili or the call of dedication and refuge in Lord Ayyappa is an essential part of the daily worship.
January 14, every year synchronising with the day of Sankramom (crossing of the sun from Dhakshinayana to Uttarayana) is the most important festival day of the temple. On the above day , lakhs of pilgrim each called an Ayyappa (assuming the very name of the Lord) flock to the shrine for worship. Here they see the Makara Vilakku the appearance of a spontaneous phenomenon of strange light in the distance, indicating the presence of god, and return ennobled and strengthened in spirit. Situated not far from the Sabarimala temple, there is a shrine in the name of Vavar, a Muslim of great valour, who was thought to be a close associate of Sri, Ayyappa. It is a rare feature of the pilgrimage to Sabarimala that the Hindu pilgrim offer worship at this shrine of Vavar also during their trip, indicating the communal harmony that prevailed in Kerala for ages. During the entire pilgrimage, all distinctions of caste and class are forgotten.
SARKARA BHARANI AND KALIYOOTTU
The famed Sarkara Bhagvathi temple is situated at Sarkara village, near Chirayinkeezhu railway station. The festivals celebrated in this temple are Kaliyoottu in Kumbham and Bharani in Meenam (February-March). Kaliyoottu is celebrated to commemorate the fight between Darika and Bhadrakali.
SIVAGIRI MUTT
Sree Narayana Guru was the Kingpin of a social revolution which transformed the caste-ridden society of Kerala. His philosophy of 'one caste, one religion and one God for man' and 'man should progress whatever be the religion' had far-reaching impact. Though in a peaceful and democratic way he fought against the caste supremacy and the outlook of caste Hindus, untouchbility and religious fanaticism practised by them. He even went to the extent of installing and consecration idols in temples to establish that the authority to perform religious rites does not rest only with caste-Hindus, especially Brahmins. The Sharada temple and his mutt at Sivagiri atop Varkala hill has now become a place of pilgrimage. The Guru Deva Jayanti, the birthday of the Guru, and the Samadhi day are befittingly celebrated in August and September respectively every year. On these days colourful processions, seminars, public meetings, cultural shows, community feasts and special rituals are held. In the last week of December, devotees of Sree Narayana Guru, donned in yellow attire stream to Sivagiri from different parts of Kerala and outside, in what may be called a pilgrimage of enlightenment. Seminars and discussions on various themes of modern life ranging from industrialisation to women's emancipation are held during the days of pilgrimage. The Mahasamadhi of Sree Narayana Guru also at tracts a large number of devotees and tourists.
SUNDARESWARA TEMPLE FESTIVAL Kannur
This temple was founded in 1916 by Sree Narayana Guru , Lord Siva is the deity consecrated in the temple which has since been opened to all irrespective of caste or creed. Eight -day festival is conducted in March- April every year.
THIRUNAKKARA UTSAVAM
The celebrated Mahadeva Temple at Kottayam, on the Thiruvakkara Hill at the very centre of the Kottayam Municipal town is one of the important Siva temples, Famous for its historical importance, antiquity and sanctity.
The grandest festival of this temple is the "Arattu Utsavam" lasting for ten days from the 1st Meenam (March-April) which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people, irrespective of caste or creed.
THIRUVATHIRA
The Thiruvathira festival falls on the asterism Thiruvathira in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January). The origin of the festival is shrouded in obscurity. The people celebrate this festival upon age-old tradition and they do it with great joy and respect for the past. The Ardra Darshan celebrated in Tamil Nadu corresponds to Thiruvathira of Kerala. It is considered to be high auspicious to worship Siva and the devotees go to the temple before sunrise for 'darshan'. Apart from the worship in the Siva temple, there is very little celebration in the houses. Tradition has it that Thiruvathira festival is celebrated in commemoration of the death of Kamadeva, the mythological God of love. According to another version Thiruvathira is the birth day of Lord Siva.
Even though the Thiruvathira is celebrated by most of the Hindu communities it is essentially a Nair women's get up at about 4 am and take bath on seven days commencing form the asterism Aswathi. While taking bath they sing certain songs mostly relating to the God of Love, accompanied by rhythmic sound produced by splashing water with their fists. In conclusion they stand in a circle in the water hand in hand singing songs. Thiruvathira is a day of fasting and the women discard the ordinary rice meal on that day, but only take preparations of chama (panicum milicceum) or wheat. Other items of their food include plantain fruits, tender coconuts, etc. They also chew betel and redden their lips. Among Namboodiris, Ambalavasis(temple-servants) and high class Nairs, there is a convention that each woman should chew 108 betels on that day. The first Thiruvathira coming after the marriage of a girl is known as Puthen Thiruvathira or Poothiruvathira and it is celebrated on a grand scale.
From prehistoric times, Malayalee woman enjoyed an enviable position in the society, and she was practically the mistress of her house. The elevated position she occupied at home and in the society had distinguished her from and in the society had distinguished her from her neighbours and influenced to a considerable extent the social structure, customs and religious practices of the people. The culmination of this phenomenon is clearly visible in setting apart one of the three great festivals of Kerala viz. Thiruvathira, exclusively for womenfolk, for which a parallel can hardly be found in any section of the Indian Society.

Oonjalattom, swinging on an oonjal (swing) is an item of amusement on this occasion. At night the women keep vigil for Siva and perform Thiruvathira kali or Kaikottikali. They stand in a circle around lighted brass lamp, and dance each step at the rhythm of the songs they sing, clapping their hands. The songs sometimes consist of Kathakali songs including the works of Irayimman Thampi.
Among Namboodiris and Amblavasis (temple servants) and Bairs who have close association with Namboodiris , there is custom called Pathirappoochoodal, Meaning wearing of flowers at midnight . At the midnight of Thiruvathira, an image of Siva is placed at the central courtyard and flowers, plantains and jaggery are offered to the deity. They then perform Kaikottikali round the deity. Flowers are taken from the offering and worn by them.
THRICHAMBARAM UTSAVAM
Thrichambaram temple dedicated to Sree Krishna is located at the Taliparamba village, about 14 kilometer from Pappinisserry railway station. The annual festival at this temple lasts for 14 days from 22nd Kumbaham (February-March).
UTHRA SEEVELI IN THIRUVALLA TEMPLE
Situated about three kilometer form the Thiruvalla railway station , the Sree Vallabha temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The large tank near the temple is believed to have formed naturally. Five other deities have also been installed here. The flag -staff of the temple, about 50 feet tall , is made of granite. It is believed that its bottom touches the water table . On the top of the flag-staff has been installed a three-feet high idol of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.
VARKALA JANARDHANASWAMY TEMPLE ARATTU
The Janardhanaswamy Temple at Varkala is about three kilometer form the Varkala railway station. The Arattu festival at this temple is celebrated every year in Meenam (March-April) commencing with Kodiyettu (Flag hoisting) of Karthika day ending with Arattu on Uthram day. The festival lasts for ten days. On an average more than ten thousand people gather everyday to attend the festival. A colourful procession led by caparisoned elephants in which ornamental silk umbrellas, peacock fans etc. are carried, is one of the prominent features of the festival.
Church Festivals
ARTHUNKAL FEAST
St. Andrew's Forance Church at Arthunkal, one of the sacred churches in Kerala, attracts lakhs of devotees both Christains and non-Christians every year from all parts of the State. The feast of St. Sebastian is celebrated on a grand scale for eleven days in a year. Owing to the unmanageable crowding of pilgrims and the resultant confusion on January 20 the final day of the feast, the church authorities have instituted another minor feast on the 8th day after the principal feast. This is known as Ettamperunnal. Of late this feast also has attained as much importance as the principal feast.
BHARANAMGANAM FEAST
Bharanamganam, a small village town in Meenachal Taluk of Kottayam District, has been famous for long as one of the hallowed places in Kerala. It is about 14 miles from the Ettumannoor railway station. Bharabangaban has always been a refuge of the afflicted and the miserable as well as of the faithful. It is here that the famous St. Mary's Forance Church, one of the oldest churches in Kerala dedicated to the Holy Mother, stands, attracting thousands of pilgrims from all over the country. The important annual festivals of this church are the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, celebrated on the 9th of November, and the Feast of St. Sebastian on the 20th of January.
EDAPPALLY PERUNAL
Every year 'Forty hour devotion' marks the commencement of the festival. The festival begins on the 23rd of April with solemn High Mass and Litany. On the 25th flag is hoisted solemnly and ceremoniously.
EDATHUA FESTIVAL
The St. George's church at Edathua stands on the bank of the river Pampa, sixteen miles southeast Alappuzha. This church is famous for the feast of St. George celebrated every year in the month of Medom (April-May). It takes place from 27th April till 7th of May. Though the festival lasts for 11 days, only last couple of days carry all the aspects of a major festival. Hence calendars reckon the 6th of May as the feast day.
KADAMATTOM FEAST
Mainly two feasts are celebrated in this church, one on the 24th and 25th of Makaram (January-February) and the other on 23rd of Medam (April-May). The former is the most important.
KALLOOPPARA PERUNAL
St.Mary's Church at Kallooppara stands in close proximity to the Kallooppara Bhagavathy temple. Inside the church, on its eastern and western wings, there are two granite slabs with some inscriptions in the Pali language. The Palli perunal and the foundation day of the Church are the two celebrations held on January 15 and July 5 respectively.
KORATTY FEAST
About seven kilometres to the south of Chalakudy, there is an ancient and beautiful village called Koratty. There is an old catholic church there built in honour of St. Mary which is locally known as "Koratty Muthy's Church".
The most important festival in this church is the 'Koratty Muthy's festival celebrated during the second week of October every year.
MALAYATTUR FEAST
St. Thomas shrine at Malayattur a village about six miles to the north of Kaladi Ernakulam District is believed to be one of the ancient catholic shrines in the northern part of the state. The chief festival at the shrine is second Sunday, since the first moon, after the Vernal Equinox (March 21). The Feast, therefore, falls generally in the month of April or at times in the last week of March. The Octave is celebrated on the following Sunday. The pilgrims have to climb a hill nearly 2000 feet high and on top of it is the church.
MANJINIKKARA CHURCH FESTIVAL
The church and Dayara at Manjinikkara derives its importance from the holy tomb there. The sacred body of the late lgnatius Elise III, the holy patriarch of Antioch and all the East was interned there. Members of the Jacobite Syrian Church believe that the Holy Father was a Saint. The Church has now become one of the foremost places of pilgrimage.
MARAMON CONVENTION
Maramon and Kozhencherry , on the banks of the river Pampa, 16 kilometers east of Tiruvalla, have for centuries been recognised as centres of Christian culture and influence. Maramon is also famous as the birth place of Palakkunnathu Abraham Maplah, leader of the reformation in the Syrian Church of Malabar in the 19th century. This village which developed into a town has the added distinction of being the venue of a religious gathering known as Maramon convention, said to be the largest Christian gathering in Asia.
It is during the month of February on the vast sand-bed of the river Pampa below the Kozhencherry bridge that the Maramon Convention is held every year.
The Maramon Convention displays co-operation and union between different sections of Church in Kerala. It fosters ecumenical outlook. It is also a source of spiritual inspiration and enlightenment for thousands.
NIRANAM FESTIVAL
Of all the places hallowed in the annals of Christianity in India, Niranam holds pride of place. In social, cultural, literary and political matters, this small village has kept up its own distinctive, pristine traditions. The fame of Niranam must have reached Syria and weighed most with St. Thomas. He is believed to have visited Niranam in 53AD, erected a crucifix founded and built a church on the site.The main religious festival is in honour of the Holy Mother on August 15. Special mass is held on that day. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated on a grand scale on 8th September. The feast of St. Thomas is celebrated on 3rd July.
RAKKULI THIRUNAL, Pala
Rakkuli Thirunal is the terminology of Common parlance to denote the feast of Epiphany celebrated every year on the 6th January in the St. Thomas Cathedral Church at Pala. It has been the occasion of a vast fair where articles of every necessity are exhibited for sale.
ST.DOMINIC SYRIAN CHURCH FEAST Aluva
The feast of St . Dominic church at Aluwa falls on the third Sunday after the Easter. The statue of the Saint is taken out in procession on that day. The feast of "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary" also consists of a spectacular procession on the Sunday after 8th of December.
FEAST AT ST. JOSEPH'S SHRINE Meppadi
The annual feast at the shrine of St. Joseph is celebrated on the last Sunday of January.
THUMPOLY FEAST
The parish of Thumpoly is renowned for its beautifully constructed church, called after St. Thomas and also dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast of our lady which lasts for 11 days ending on December 8th.
VETTUKAD FESTIVAL
The most important feast celebrated in this church situated on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram is of Christ, the King. This feast is observed for eleven days ending with the last Sunday of October. On the tenth day, after the vespers in the church, there is a procession which goes round the parish lasting for about 1 ½ hours. On the final day there will be a solemn high mass, sermon, eucharistic procession and benediction. The attendance for this feast is well over 50,000.
Masjid Festivals
CHANDANAKUDA MAHOTSAVAM IN BEEMAPALLI
The holy shrine of Beema Beevi, more popularly known as Beempalli, which is held sacred by Muslims as well as others, is situated about five kilometres southwest of the Trivandrum Central Railway Station, on the beach road leading to Poonthura via Valiyathura. Beemapalli is a shrine dedicated to the hallowed memory of Beema Beevi, a pious and devoted Muslim lady gifted with divine powers. It is one of the most distinguished mosques in Kerala, which draws large gatherings. Pilgrims of all ages from all communities can be seen heading towards the shrine all along the routes during this festival.
FESTIVAL AT CHERAMAN JUMA MASJID, KODUNGALLOOR
This is the first Juma Masjid in India and is situated in the Methala Village of Kodungalloor taluk, hardly 20 kilometre from Irinjalakuda railway station. According to the legend, Cheraman Perumal went on a pilgrimage to Arabia where he met Prophet Mohammed at Jeddah and embraced Islam and accepted the name Thajuddin.
VELIANCODE JARAM NERCHA FESTIVAL
In the village of veliancode there is a Jaram (tomb) where the body of a great Tangal (priest) who had exceptionally divine qualities, lies buried. The 'Nercha Festival' is celebrated in memory of his death.
MALAPPURAM NERCHA
Years ago, one of the female dependants of Para Nambisan, a petty chieftain of Malappuram, was taken away by the local Muslims as a slave. Para Nambisan who could not bear this ignominy wanted to wreak vengeance upon the culprits. He therefore, sent for Marakkar, a leader of the local Muslims and the concausing death for so many on both sides. In memory of the devoted Muslim leaders who gave up their lives during the fight, a nercha is conducted every year, either in February or in March in the Mosque at Malappuram.
Other Festivals
OACHIRA KETTUKAZHCHA
Oachira has been famous for long as one of the sacred places of Kerala. Historically too, this place is very famous, for, it was on the plains of Oachira that the much famed battle in the history of Travancore, the battle of Kayamkulam was fought between Marthandavarma the Maharaja of Travancore and the Raja of Kayamkulam. In commemoration of this historic battle 'Oachirakkali' is conducted on the first and second of Midhunam (June-July) every year.
The Oachirakkali was on of the factors that brought fame and glory to Oachira. On the first and second day of Midhunam (June-July) the young and the old, drawn from the two karas lying east and west of Oachira, and forming themselves into two groups, reach the 'Padanilam' and conduct the age-old fencing exercises under the leadership of the elder Kalari Asan. IT is to perpetuate the memory of the great battle fought between the Maharaja Marthandavarma and the Raja of Kayamkulam that the Oachirakali is conducted with much eclat. Thus the Irupathettam Utsavam comes to an end with the Oachirakkali. A big cattle fair is also held as part of the above festival.
JAIN FESTIVAL At Palakkad
There is an ancient Jain Temple at Jainamedu near the Palakad town. According to a legend, one Sutar, head of the Jains, built this temple 500 years ago for the Jain sage Chandranathaswamy.
JEWISH FESTIVAL
Among the Jewish festivals, the Sabbath (Saturday) occupies the pride of place. The Sabbath gives the labourer every week a day of rest and leisure. Passover or the feast of unleavened bread is one commemorating the birth of Israel as a nation and deliverance of the Jews from the Egyptian slavery. It falls in April or May. Pentecost is another Jewish festival held in May-June. It has an agricultural and historical significance. The feast of Tabernacle is another pilgrim festival falling in either September or October. During this feast, Jews set temporary booths covered with palm leaves and decorated with citrus and other fruits. The Jewish New Year falls in September or October. It is not a time for revelry, but a solemn season for self-assessment and judgement in the life of the Jew. The Day of Atonement following the New Year is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. Not a morsel of food or a drop of water will pass the lips of the observant Jews from subset of the previous day till after the nightfall of the next day. The Jews will be in the synagogue of devoting themselves to fervent prayers. The Hannukka or the festival of lights is another popular celebration of the Jews.
NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE
The Nehru trophy regatta at Alappuzha on 14th August every year has become an Independence Day feature. Different types of boats take part in this competition. They include the bean-shaped boats, Kitetailed, curly-headed and so on. Between 30 and 60 metres long with tall, cone -shaped, tapering helms protruding several metres above water and accommodating 100 or more at the oars, these boats of exquisite elegance plough the water with the rhythm of drums and cymbals and legendary songs, typical of Kerala. Above each boat gleam scarlet silk umbrellas as the boats go in procession in the backwaters and rivers of a Kerala, which remind one of the sea-faring and martial traditions of ancient Kerala. The trophy was instituted by former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who enthralled by the charm and gaiety of the Kerala Water Carnival.
OTTAPPALAM NERCHA FESTIVAL
Juma prayers are held in this mosque on Friday. To Commemorate the death anniversary of a saintly person by name Uthman Auliya an annual Festival is held here in January-February.
PADAYANI at Nilamperoor
The annual Padayani Utsavam of the Bhagavathikkavu at Nilamperoor, a village in the Kuttanad Taluk on the precincts of Changanassery Municipal town is a festival which symbolises and reflects the tradition and culture of a typical Kerala village. The Padayani Utsavam is celebrated on a grand scale with Kolamkettu (making of effigies) and Kolamthullal (a kind of ritual dance performed by carrying the effigies). The chief kolams displayed are of Siva, Bhima, Ravana, Elephants etc.
VALLARPADAM FEAST AND FESTIVAL
Being an islet Vallarapadam has access only by water. Held in great devotion 'Vallarpadath Amma' is believed to have miraculously saved her devotees several time from violent storms. The feast of Vallarpadath Amma is held every year on September 24 with much fanfare.The celebrations which last for more than a week is accompanied by an unusually big fair. The most important products and articles offered at this fair are country boats and cars, pots and straw mats. The last item finds an important market here as the festival falls in the harvest season.
Dr T P SASIKUMAR
9911484007 / 9447437948 / 04027242863
dr_tps@yahoo.com / drtpsasikumar@gmail.com

4 comments:

  1. Dear Dr.tps
    I am impressed with the depth of your knowledge and your love of the traditional art forms of this wonderful land of Lord Parasuram!!! I want the world to know what this small strip of land on the southern tip of India has to offer. Anil

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  2. Kerala is a place with many good destinations to visit and enjoy the vacation. India Tourism provides many opportunities to see all the natural beauty in India. In Kerala Tourism tourist will get all the opportunities to see the Kerala destinations like backwaters, houseboats, temples, etc.

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