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Ritual Art Forms of Kerala

Kerala, a south Indian state rich in ritual art forms is a culturally heterogeneous heritage abode due to the presence of multi-cultural tribes. There is always a sizzling mood of music, dance and theatre in this state of south India. Termed as God’s own country, Kerala is sought by the art, entertainment and heritage enthusiasts from all over the world. The types of dances are folk dances, dance dramas and semi-classical dances apart from the two aesthetic classical dance forms of Kathakali and Mohiniattam.

The ritual art forms add vibrancy and enthusiasm to the people of Kerala. The dance forms of Kerala depict Kerala culture in its best. The features and costumes are mask, gestures, martial arts, paintings in face, dance, music, mime, makeup etc. The renowned ritual art forms of Kerala are :

Theyyam :

A ritual dance form of Kerala, 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 colorful costumes.

Poothanumthirayum :

This ritual offering to Goddess Kaali is performed in many places of South Malabar. A troupe of dancers dress up as Kaali (the Thira) and the accompanying spirits (the Poothams) who were created along with the goddess for the destruction of the evil demon, Daarikan. The Thira wear masks while the spirits don semi-circular wooden crowns. The dance is performed from house to house and on the premises of village shrines between November and May every year.

Koothu :

Koothu is a solo narrative performed mingled with mime and comic interludes either independently or as part of Kootiyattam. The character Chakkiar in the role ' Vidushaka' or the wise jester satirizes the manners and customs of the time imitating stories of the epics, The Mahabharata and The Ramayana.

Arjuna Nritham :

Arjuna Nritham is a ritual dance based on the character of the epic The Mahabharata, Arjuna and his devotional presentation of dance and singings to appease the goddess Bhadrakaali. It is performed by men artists in the Bhagawathy temples of Kerala.

Kannyarkali :

Kannyarkali, also known as Desathukali, is a folk art exclusively practiced by the Nair community of the Palakkad area. It owes its origin to the pursuit of martial arts in this region which was under constant threat of attack from neighbouring Konganadu. It owes its origin to the pursuit of martial arts which is vibrant and rhythmic in its nature. Women also participate in this folk art.

Margom Kali :

A ritual folk art of the Syrian Christians of Kottayam and Thrissur districts is an allegorical performance with the lamp representing Christ and the performers his disciples.

Theeyattu :

Theeyattu is a solo dance-drama performed in some Bhagavathy temples of Thiruvalla, Kottayam, Thripunithura and neighboring areas. The ritual starts with the chanting of Lord Ganapathy, Lord Siva and goddess Saraswathy.

These ritual art forms, cultural heritage of Kerala are prime attractions for the travelers.