Art Forms Of Kerala


Kerala is famous for its traditional art forms. Theyyam, Thira, Padayani, Mudiyett, Kolkali, Chavittunadakam, Garudathookkam; the list is so long. Still such art forms are performed in different parts of Kerala – particularly in temples during festival season. Traditional instruments like chenda, ilathgalam, thimilam, madhalam and shankh and vocals are used. Costumes are equally important and it represents the tradition, story and significance of an art form. So let me give a brief description of a few of them through this article.


Theyyam – Theyyam means God and Theyyattam means dance in the costume of god. Theyyam is most common in temples known as ‘kavu’ and traditional homes of North Kerala (Malabar region). Though it’s an art form related to Hindu worship, people of all groups participate in this art form. It’s done for good reasons, welfare of society, to prevent diseases and poverty, prosperity of agriculture and to criticize discrimination based on caste.


Kolkali – It is practised among different castes and religions of Kerala. Sticks known as ‘Kol’ of pre-defined size and shape are used to perform this art form.


Chavittunadakam – This art form practised by Christians came to existence after the Portuguese landed in Kerala. They use costumes similar to foreign dramas and use chenda and kaimani as instruments. Most important is their footsteps. They perform before a lamp and conversation is in Tamil mixed Malayalam.


Mudiyett – It is a traditional art form and has characteristics of folk dance. It’s done in ‘Bhagavathi Kavu’ – a special category of Goddess temples, during the Malayalam month Makaram to Meenam. Mudiyattam is the dramatic representation of battle between Bhadrakali and Dharaka. It’s conducted in middle Kerala – Thrissur, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Kottayam.


Gardudan Thookkam – It’s a traditional art form related to Dharaka Vadham (killing of Dharaka). Even after killing Dharaka, Kali was in anger and Garuda danced before the goddess to please her – says puranas. Persons disguised as garduda, wearing beaks and wings dances according to the tunes of instruments played. In some places, Garudas carry

Kids also after taking vrita for 41 days and he revolves the whole temple in chariots carrying the kids in hands, as if he is flying.


Kakkarashi Nadakam – This folk drama is performed in South Kerala and it’s associated with special occasions and celebrations of temples. Main characters are ‘Sundaran Kaalan’ (male) and two ‘Kakkalathi’ (ladies). Humour is given preference and Mridangam, Ganchara, Harmonium and ilathalam are used as instruments. 




Article Posted By : Sandhya RanilView All Articles

i am deeply influenced by Kerala arts and culture

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Keywords :
Art forms of Kerala , Chavittunadakam , Mudiyattam , Kakkarashi nadakam , Garudan thookkam


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