art & Culture, Kerala

Classical Arts of Kerala
Bharata 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.'

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.

Also called koothu, is one of the oldest classical theatre arts of kerala. The solo dance is usually presented in the koothambalam of temples to the accompaniment of the mizhavu and elathalam. The performance begains with an invocation to the presiding deity of the temple. The narration is enlivened with the thandava dance movements, gestures and facial expression according to the guidelines in natya sastra. Koothu is distinct for its comic element which adds to its dramatic character. Themes are usually from the epics. The costume is colourful and bizarre with a strange headgear

This spectacular classical dance drama of kerala based on the guidelines laid by sage bharatha's natya sastra, the ancient treatise on dance and drama, is over 500 years old. This elaborate art form is usually performed in the evenings and continues up to dawn, and is an integral part of all temple and cultural festivals in kerala. The costumes and makeup are ornamental, elaborate and designed to give a superhuman effect. The actors do not speak or sing but enact the story through mudras (hand gestures), graceful movements and facial expressions. The themes of this awe inspiring art are taken from india's rich and colourful mythology. Music is an essential feature of kathakali, with two vocalists who sing to the accompaniment of a chengila (gong), elathalam (small cymbals), chenda and maddalam. 

This classical solo dance form combines the graceful elegance of bharatanatyam with the vigour and dynamism of kathakali, to create a mood that is predominantly sringara (erotic). The dance is usually performed on specially put up stages in connection with temple festivals. The costume is the traditional white mundu and melmundu of kerala. The hair is gathered and put up at the side of the head and adorned with jasmine, int the traditional style.

Folk Arts of Kerala
Kalampattu (kalamezhuthu pattu) is a folk art form that belongs to the northern regions of kerala. This art form, which is over 600 years old is performed by a group of five to fifteen people in bhadrakali and ayyappa temples. The ritual is performed around the kolam - an elaborate picture, usually of bhadrakali, drawn on the floor, using five colours. The performance in the light of temple torches lasts through the night. The singers are neatly dressed with women wearing their hair on the side of the head. A series of songs (kalampattu) are sung to the accompaniment of nanthuni and elathalams. 

Kalaripayattu is the comprehensive system of martial arts of kerala, regarded as one of the oldest and most scientific in the world. Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of mind and body. The traditional training in a kalari includes specialisation in indigenous medical practices too. Kalaris are also centres of religious worship. 

Kaliyoottu is an eight day long colourful folk ritual which been acts the combat between goddess durga and the demon darika. The ritual is performed in different stages. The climax of the play - the ritual called paranettu - is performed on a specially constructed 100 feet high stage on the eighth day. 

Kanniyarkali (deshathukali) is a ritual art dance from, which is performed to the accompaniment of devotional folk songs and the resounding beats of drum. It is usually performed in bhagavathy temples. 

Kavadiyattam is a ritualistic dance form performed by devotees. The group of devotees wearing bright yellow or saffron costumes with ash smeared all over the body dance in a frenzy carrying kavadis on their shoulders. Kavadis are colourful bow shaped wooden structures rising six to ten feet tall. The ambalakavadi is structured and decorated like a temple. The pookavadi has clusters of colourful, paper, cloth or plastic flowers arranged on them. The resounding beats of percussion instruments like udukku and chenda and the nadaswaram are characteristic of the kavadi procession. It is usually offered in subramanya temples.

Kolkali: is a group dance form of the farming community in kerala. Twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp, tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hands.

Thiruvathirakali is a classical dance form, which is a pointer to the old customs followed in the nair tharawads (joint families). In this dance form, the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the thiruvathira pattu (song). 

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.

List of kottayam hotels