Kerala is one the richest states of India when it comes to culture and tradition. It has a grand and elaborate culture which manifests itself in the form festivals, art forms, dances, rituals, customs, food, clothes etc. the people of this state live a rich and vibrant social life fully dipped in the richness of their culture. When we are talking about the culture of Kerala the dances need a special mention as some of its dance forms are the oldest and the most popular in the world. The classical dances of Kerala hold a special place in the history of its culture and tradition. Some of its popular dance forms are –
Kathakali – this dance form is believed to have originated about 500 years ago and includes a combination of dance, drama, music and ritual. It is considered to be the oldest forms of theatre in the world. In Malayalam language the word ‘Katha’ means Story and ‘kali’ means language, hence this dance form means story-play. It’s a spectacular dance performance which provides you a vibrant visual treat and great entertainment.
Theyyam – it is a sacred dance form dedicated to goddess Kali. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding folk arts of Kerala and is also known as Kaliyattam or Thirayattam. It is believed that the word Theyyam is a corrupt form of the word Daivam which in Malayalam means god. This dance is mostly performed as a ritualistic art during the temple festival of Kaavu in different villages.
Thullal – this dance form traces its origin in the eighteenth century and is a solo performance. It includes both dance and recitation and the word means to leap or jump playfully. The plot of this dance form is derived from the ancient Hindu religions texts, mostly the puranas.
Koodiyattam – it is believed that this dance form existed in all the major temples of Kerala in the ninth century and started to become popular around the fifteenth century. It is the earliest form of classical dramatic art to have originated in Kerala. It means ‘acting together ‘ and is probably the only form of Sanskrit drama that exists still today.
Duffmuttu – also known as Aravanmuttu, this dance form is specific to the Muslim community of Kerala. Its origin can be traced back to the Arabs. This dance form is accompanied by Arabic music and also involves using of an instrument called duff or tap. This instrument gives a peculiar rhythm to the dance and makes it more interesting.
Oppana dance – this is another dance specific to the Muslim community. It is a bridal dance performed on the wedding day and forms an integral part of the marriage celebrations of the Muslim community of the Malabar region. it is mostly performed by the young female relatives of the bride.
Kaikottikali – this is a common folk dance usually performed by the women of Hindu community during important festivals like Onam and Thiruvathira.
Mohiniyattam – this special dance form encompasses various aspects of Bharathnatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi dances.