Kerala is blessed with various kinds of resources. The state boasts of its pristine beaches, tranquil waters, traditional ‘kettuvalloms’ or houseboats which float in the lakes, distinct species of flora and fauna, pleasant climatic conditions and etc. There are also Ayurveda centres for refreshing mind and soul. Every year lakhs of people visit the state to enchant its mesmerising beauty and to be part of it. Kerala always has something new to treat its visitors. People irrespective of their age and sex enjoy every inch of the beautiful nature. Apart from the beautiful environment, there are many more to see. Like the modern industrial developments, universities, educational institutions, hospitals and research centres. To understand more about the culture and traditions of a state or country either people have to visit museums or study various art forms both ritual and cultural. Kerala also has unique art forms. The state has given birth to many eminent talented artists to the world. An art institution named Kerala Kalamandalam is home to various art forms. Malayalees and Non-Malayalees across different parts of the world take admission in the institution to learn deeply about various dance forms. Kerala Kalamandalam is located on the banks river Bharathapuzha in Cheruthuruthy in Thrissur. Famous Malayalam poet Vallathol Narayana Menon along with Mukunda Raja took the initiative to form Kerala Kalamandalam.
Travellers who are planning to visit the state must definitely find some time to enjoy the beauty of cultural art forms which are popular not only within the country but also in foreign nations. Some dance forms are practised only during festival seasons like Theyyam, Arjuna Nritham, Mudiyettu etc. Some others perform dances on a competition basis or merely for entertainment like Thiruvathirakali, Kathakali, Mohiniyattom etc. People who are availing the Cheapest Kerala package from Dream Kerala tour partners will get an opportunity to view the dance forms directly. Dance is an art form which helps the beings to express their sorrows, joy and fury. A dancer’s performance will be successful only when his or her soul and body unite to give mind-blowing steps. Each dance is based on some mythological stories or epics. There will at least 2 singers to narrate these stories in musical form. Here, is the list of few popular cultural art forms of Kerala.
Kathakali is one of the popular classical dances of Kerala. Kathakali can be split into two words ‘Katha’ means ‘story’ and ‘Kali’ means ‘play’. In short, Kathakali means ‘story play’. It is also known as an ’eye dance’. Kathakali always emphasises on gestures of hands, legs and palms and also eye movements. The dance performance was performed only by males and they used to enact the role of female characters. But now, females also started to participate in the dance. Usually, the theme of Kathakali used to be the mythological stories from Hindu religious book like The Mahabharata, The Ramayana. Present generations have started to take stories from English plays like from Shakespeare’s collections. These stories are narrated to the public by 2 or 3 singers. It is done so as to inculcate the western with Indian. In olden days, Kathakali performances prolonged till 3 days now it has been cut short to 5 hours. The performers appear on the stage with exotic make-up, colourful costumes which include swirled skirt. They also wear heavy ornaments and headgears. It takes long hours to dress up for the programme. People who are able to understand the gestures and facial expressions can really enjoy the classical dance. In olden days, Kathakali was practised in royal palaces, where Kings and others enjoyed the dance and in return rewarded the artists with excellent gifts. Later Kathakali was moved to temples so those common people irrespective of their creed and caste can enjoy the art. Now, the art form can be seen in various stages. The main musical instrument used for the dance is a drum known as ‘Chenda’. It takes 12 years for an artist to learn Kathakali completely. It is the main art form taught in the Kerala Kalamandalam. It is believed that Kathakali was originated from Kalaripayattu, Krishanattom and Kuttiyattom.
Mohiniyattom is one of the eight classical dances of India mentioned by Sangeet Nataka Academy. It also the second popular dance of Kerala. It is believed that the dance was originated in the 16th century and has flourished in the 19th century by the King of Travancore Swathi Thirunal. The origin of Mohiniyattom was mentioned in the chapter ‘Vyavaharamala’ from the book ‘Ghoshayatra’ written by ‘Mazhamagalam Namrayanan Namputhiri’. It was later rewritten by the great poet ‘Kunjan Nambiar’. The word ‘ Mohiniyattom’ when splitting into two exactly tells what the dance means. Mohini means ‘maiden ’or devotee of Lord Vishnu and Attam means ‘seductive and graceful body movements’. Initially, this dance was performed only in palaces and temples and now it has been moved to different stages. There is a myth revolving around the dance that Lord Vishnu disguised himself as ‘Mohini’ to defeat the demons and to rescue lord Shiva. The delicate movements of the body and charming facial expressions are more suitable to females and therefore the dance is performed only by women. The song used for Mohiniyattom is written ‘Manipravalam’. It is a combination of Sanskrit and Malayalam. Mohiniyattom was performed by females called ‘Devadasis’.
- The makeup for the Mohiniyattom is little exotic yet elegant. It involves red lips and dark kohled eyes.
- The language used for the dance performances is Manipravalam, is the fusion of Sanskrit and Malayalam.
- The performer uses only gold ornaments since it is a symbol of beauty and prosperity.
- Only Jasmine flowers are used to adorn the hair.
- Initially, it was performed only in temples as a tribute to God especially Lord Vishnu.
- The main attire for the dance is Kerala Kasavu saree.
Thiruvathirakali is one of the popular cultural dances of Kerala. Thiruvathirakali is also known as ‘Kaikottukali’. The cultural dance is mainly performed in the month of Dhanu in Malayalam almanac. Or it can also be said that it is practised in the month of December and January. In ancient days, the dance was performed during the Thiruvathira festival in order to please Lord Shiva to seek his blessings. There is a myth revolving around the dance that this dance bought Kamadeva, the God of love back to life after he was burnt into ashes by Lord Shiva. Therefore the dance is performed mainly by women irrespective of their ages to gain marital happiness and female energy. For the dance, women wear typical Kerala sari, which is white in colour with a golden border. Or two-piece is known as ‘mundu’ and ‘neriyathu’. Mundu is attire which is worn around the waist. Neriyathu is worn over the blouse along with it they wear golden ornaments. They adorn their hair with jasmine flowers. This ancient dance form mainly survives through school competitions and college youth festivals. Some people say that dance form was been in practice during the Sangham period.
The dance consists of 8-10 members arranged in a circular manner around a lit lamp known as ‘vilaku’ or floral carpet. They move in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. Moreover the hand movements it is the body movements which make the dance more graceful. It is also believed that the dance has been originated from Kathakali. The song sung for Thiruvathira dance is mainly based on some mythology or some folk tales. Sometimes devotional songs are also sung. During Onam, the song would be mainly related to King Mahabali. The leader of the team will sing the first two lines of the song and other members repeat it as a chorus.
In ancient days, only on Thiruvathira, women were allowed to mingle with others without any fear of social restrictions. As part of the festival, women were allowed to go out to village ponds or temple ponds for bath and other rituals. The group was one of the best ways to keep the females engaged as they have to stay awake for the whole night.
Various forms of Thiruvathirakali:
As aforementioned Thiruvathira is famous among Malayalees and it is practised in different ways in southern and northern regions of Kerala. The southern region of Kerala has various forms of Thiruvathira dance.
- Kolaattam – Women hold small sticks in their hands and used them to strike against each other.
- Thaalam Vechattam – Females carried small plates made up of brass in their hands. These plates are known as ‘Thallam’ in Malayalam.
- Kudam Vechattam – Dancers carry small pot in their hands known as ‘Kudam’ in Malayalam.
- Pinnalaattam – It is performed under temporary sheds or under trees. In this type of dance form, strings are tied from the poles of the sheds or from the branches.
Margamkali is one of the famous dances among St.Thomas Christians in Kerala. Markamkali can be split into two words, Markam means ‘path’ and Kali means ‘dance’. The dance consists of 12 members which denote 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. In ancient days, the dance was performed by men by wearing peacock feathers in their heads and a red dhoti. Also a red silk cloth around the hip. They stand in a circular arrangement with a traditional lamp at the centre. Now, this dance is mainly practised by females by wearing ‘Mundu’ and ‘Chatta’. They wear bangles on hands and ankles. The song for Markam kali comprises of miracles of St.Thomas and it either was sung by the singer or by the dancers. Kallisserry Itti Thoman Kathanar wrote these songs in the 17th century. It has a small resemblance of ‘Yathrakali pattu’ of Namboothiris. The song is written in 4000 lines in different sections. The dance is performed on special occasions like church feasts or wedding ceremonies. But now it is been practised in various stages of schools and colleges.
Travellers will be thrilled after reading the information on various dance forms are seen in Kerala and would be planning to avail the tour packages. As a seasonal offer, Dream travel operators have decided to give reasonable discounts for the first 10 travellers. The packages are available at affordable price. Including the travel expenses the package range up to Rs.35000/- for a family consisting of 4 members including 2 children. Additional each person will have to pay Rs.10000/-. Try to grab the package as soon as possible and avail their discount offers.
While planning a trip to Kerala don’t forget to pack the bag with a high-resolution camera with good storage memory cards. Also, don’t forget to take a notebook and pen to note down some important information given by famous artists regarding their dances. This book can also be used to take an autograph from the eminent artists. If they allow, travellers can take their costumes and other accessories as part of souvenirs. If travellers are interested to take an interview with the famous dancers must discuss with the tour operators beforehand. In some cases, people will be forced to sit late night to watch some special performances. So travellers must be ready for the same. Dream holidays ensure travellers safety by providing the safe and best accommodation in reputed hotels and resorts. On special request from the travellers, the tour operator is ready to provide cab facility for their personal needs.