The culture of an area can be acknowledged by its art and dance forms. Dances are considered integral parts of the culture of any region. Kerala which is situated within the southern part of India and is popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’ has several dance forms. Among the various folk dances, some are native and have gained recognition only within the state whereas, some have gained popularity worldwide. Many of those folk dance of kerala were performed at the time of temple festivals and occasions.
These sorts of dances are unique in their way of presentation with wonderful expressions, which are performed by the finest dancers. The performers are adorned with attractive costumes and ornaments that add charm to the dance.
Kerala has around 50 sorts of dances. Among these Theyyam, Thiruvathira Kali, Chakyar Koothu Koodiyattam, and Ottamthullal are several of the prominent dances of Kerala.
Kerala is, therefore, popular for its two classical dance forms ‘Kathakali’ and ‘Mohiniyattam,’ which lure tourists worldwide. Lifestyle Fun here provides you with some important information about the unique classical dance sorts of Kerala.
Popular Folk Dance of Kerala:
Kathakali is a powerful form of classical dance that originated more than 500 years ago in the southern state of Kerala. Kathakali may be a perfect combination of dance, drama, music, and non-secular theme.
Kathakali is considered one of the world’s oldest forms of theatre. In Malayalam (the local language of Kerala), Kathakali means Story-Play, “Katha-Story” and “Kali-Play”.
A famous and sensual classical dance sort of Kerala called Mohiniyattam involves graceful movements. This classical dance is performed by a solo woman dancer, because the name itself says, Mohini means ‘a maiden’ and Yattam means ‘dance’.
Mohiniyattam may be a blend of Bharatanatyam and Kathakali because it uses the elements of these dances. This dance is extremely elegant as it has gentle and graceful movements along with mesmerizing eye movements.
it’s a popular group dance performed during the harvest festival of Kerala, Onam. This dance is performed by women, occupation a circular movement, rhythmically to the Thiruvathira songs’ tune.
This dance form originated within the 18th century and has become a popular dance form of Kerala. it’s said that famous Malayalam poet, Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar created this dance form. Ottamthullal may be a group dance performed wearing make-up and vibrant costumes. A dancer narrates a story supported by mythology.
Koodiyattam may be a popular traditional dance form in Kerala. This dance form was performed within the temples for centuries. The musical instruments involved in Koodiyattam are Kuzhitalam, Mizhavu, Sankhu and Kurumkuzhal.
6. Chakyar Koothu
It’s a highly refined ancient folk dance form of Kerala. The dancer narrates scenes from Hindu epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. During festivals and occasions, it’s performed in the temples.
A well-liked dance form of the Malabar region of Kerala is called Theyyam. Theyyam and its rituals are in practice for thousands of years in this region.
it’s very popular as the lower caste people have access to it. it’s a Dravidian art form and sacred ritual dance to worship Goddess Kali. The word ‘Theyyam’ is claimed to be the corrupted form of ‘Daivam’, the Malayalam word, which suggests God.
Folk Instruments of Kerala:
The saying “eighteen instruments stand below the chenda” only highlights the greatness of chenda. The reference is to the eighteen instruments (including the chenda) utilized in Kerala’s temples (Ashtadasha instruments).
These include chenda, mridangam, mizhavu, maddalam, perumbara, idakka, kuzhal, kadumthudi, ilathalam, kuzhithalam, thoppimaddalam, idumudi viranam udukku, thamber, veekanchenda, thimila, chankidikuzhal, killari, ankyam, and an instrument perched high and played. Sanku, chengila, veekanchenda, idakka, thimila, maram (pani), shuddhamaddalam, chenda, kurumkuzhal, kombu, ilathalam, kuzhithalam, thoppimaddalam, Idumudi vriraanam, nanthuni, karadika and padaham mentioned because the 18 instruments in some texts.
The Chanda may be a cylindrical percussion instrument originating in the state of Kerala and widely used in Tulu Nadu of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India. In Tulu Nadu (Coastal Karnataka), it’s known as chende. it’s greatly identified as a cultural element in Kerala and Tulu Nadu.
Mridangam, also spelled mrdangam, mridanga, or mrdanga, two-headed drum played in Carnatic music of southern India. it’s made of wood in an angular barrel shape, having an overview like an elongated hexagon.
A mizhav or mizhavu) maybe a big copper drum played as an accompanying percussion instrument in the Koodiyattam and Koothu, the humanistic discipline of Kerala. it’s played by the Ambalavasi Nambiar community. After 1965, when started a mizhavu repertory in kalamandalam mizhavu break the cast barrier and nowadays anyone can play mizhavu in Kodiyattu, nangiar koothu, chakyar koothu, and mizhavu thayambaka.
The maddalam or madhalam may be a drum made from the wood of the jackfruit tree. it’s two sides for playing, is made from leather, and has different quiet sounds on each side. The maddalam may be a heavy instrument that hung around the waist of the person playing, and therefore the player stands all the while to perform.
The maddalam may be a vital instrument in traditional Kerala percussion ensembles like Panchavadyam, Keli and Kathakali orchestra.
Ldakka is an instrument used for Panchavadyam and Sopana Sangeetham performances. it’s more musical than rhythmical and is believed that it has been sent to the Earth by Lord Nataraja (Lord Shiva).
The kuzhal may be a traditional double reed wind instrument used in the south Indian state of Kerala. it’s similar in construction to nagaswaram or a large shehnai and features a very shrill and penetrating tone.
An idiophonic instrument kuzhithalam though almost like ilathalam in shape, it’s smaller in size. Flat copper/brass plates round connected by a string through holes within the middle. utilized in nagaswaram, Chakyarkoothu, Bhajan and Ottanthullal together with other dance instruments for talas.
Toppi Madhalam may be a small version of Sudha Madhalam. It can produce a good range of sounds. The sounds on the left and right heads don’t have much difference. Paste of boiled broken rice and charcoal (applying of which understood as ‘choriduka’) not applied on the right head. Toppi Madhalam once used for Kathakali, Kutiyattam and Thullal. Now it’s used only for Krishnanattam which is rarely staged.
Veekku Chenda or “Acchan Chenda” may be a type of Chenda, or drum used to keep the “thalam” or the basic rhythm while playing the Chenda. The “Chenda Vattam” of the “Veekku Chenda” is usually the “Valam Thala” or the “Right Head” which is made of multiple layers of skin to produce a bass sound.
The meaning of “Veekku” in Malayalam language is “beating hard”. The artist produces sound on “Veekku Chenda” by hitting the drum employing a stick without twisting or rolling his wrist.
Kurumkuzhal is another wind of Kerala. it’s also known as ‘mukha veena’. it’s akin to the nagaswaram. The difference is merely in the length. This instrument is formed from the wood of certain trees. A hollow pipe or tube, it’s blown in accompaniment to the chenda during festivals or ritual processions.
Kurumkuzhal is employed in Pandi Panchari (chenda melams), pancha vadya ensemble, Kutiyattam etc. In chenda ensemble, the kurumkuzhal artiste faces the chenda player. The ‘srutikuzhal’ of Kurumkuzhal won’t have holes.
The ‘muradu’ is used for blowing and ‘Kalam’ tied with bell metal/bronze. A special quiet grass is used for blowing ‘muradu’.
Nanthuni, a musical instrument, is exclusive to Kerala. it’s also referred to as nanduni, nanthunni. it’s a musical instrument used in `Kalamezhuthu pattu’. About 4 feet long and ¼ feet in breadth, little strings fixed to a tough plank of wood. One end of the string fixed to castanets on the wooden plank. When hit on the strings softly with a twig, a sound produced.