Kerala backwaters



Festivals Celebrated in Kerala

Kerala in addition to being endowed with profuse flora and myriad fauna, is also rich in culture and festivities. Every festival involves a multitude of art forms showcased with all pomp and show ranging from vibrant music and dance to elaborate elephant processions and amazing fireworks. Kerala is truly God’s own country in the respect to its secular celebration of all religious festivals as one unit. Some of the famous festivals celebrated with all splendor in Kerala is as follows:


onam sadhya

Onam is the biggest and the most important festivals of the state of Kerala. It is one of the biggest harvest festivals and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities.

Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar.  It is a festival of flowers stretched over 10 days. It features traditional songs and dance performance like thiruvathira Kathakali, feasting, various indoor and outdoor games and boat races. According to a popular legend, on this day, the great, mighty and kind demon king of the region known as Mahabali returns to his people every year after he was condemned to live in abyss as a result of one of the deceitful ploys of God Vishnu, which he played to save the Kingdom of Gods from him but granted him an annual trip to his people. Onam celebrations ensure a colorful reception of the great King Mahabali. The legend is believed to have happened at Thrikkakara, the legendary capital of King Mahabali.


Vishu kani

Vishu Festival heralds the beginning of New Year in Kerala and is celebrated in a big way in the state of Kerala and the adjoining areas of Tamil Nadu. Vishu falls on the first day in the Malayalam month of Medam. When the sun enters into Sidereal Aries, Ashwini nakshatra—it is celebrated as Vishu. It is said that what one sees when one first opens one’s eyes on Vishu morning is an indication of what one can expect in the year to come. Thus on Vishu, effort is made to assure one opens one’s eyes before an auspicious image—the Vishukkani.

‘Kani-Kanal’ is prepared in big pots comprising of coconuts, fruits, cereals and Konna flower in the night before the festival and behind the pot, a mirror and the garlanded deity of Krishna are kept. It is the first thing that people see as a good omen when they get out of bed and ask for the blessings of the God. In Kerala, the Kani in the temples of Guruvayur, Ambalapuzha and Sabarimala are famous.

Eid Ul- Fitr


One of Islam’s most important festivals, Eid ul Fitr is the culmination of the month-long period of fasting and austerity known as Ramzan or Ramadan. It is believed that the Holy Quran was revealed during the month of Ramzan, and in commemoration of that sacred revelation, Eid is celebrated on the day following the sighting of the new moon.

Family gatherings, fireworks and much feasting round off the festivities. People wear new clothes, houses are decorated, friends and relatives visit each other to exchange greetings. The highlight of banquet tables is the sweet milk-and-vermicelli pudding known as ‘seviyan’- because of which many people refer to Eid ul Fitr as ‘meethi’ or ‘sweet’ Eid.



Durga Puja of Bengal, Dussehra of Bombay and the Saraswati Puja and the Ayudha Puja of the South, is a 10-day long festival devoted to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. In Travancore especially, the Navaratri is a state ceremony celebrated with great magnificence since the times of Padmanabhapuram when the Maharaja of Trivandrum stood in the Verandah of the ‘Karivelappura Malika’ in front of the Trivandrum temple and threw money to the masses standing below.

Deepawali Or Diwali


Deepavali is the festival of lights and crackers and sweets and is celebrated to commemorate the riddance of the world from the oppression of the Naraka by the god Krishna. The chief feature in the celebration of this festival is the oil bath early in the morning.



It is a festival celebrated to commemorate the birth of Goddess Bhagvati. The houses are illuminated and people flock to the temple of the goddess and make offerings. In the evening, women go out to worship the goddess.

Maha Siva Ratri


‘Maha Siva Ratri’ or the great night of Siva, is celebrated in the month of March. On this day, people fast. The celebration of this festival at Siva temple at Alwaye on the banks of the Periyar River is a splendid one. The Lingam of Siva is worshipped for the entire night. A fair is held on a very large scale featuring shows, dances and dramas.



Kerala is known to be the best destination in South India and is famous for celebrating Christmas. Kerala is certainly famous for its celebration of Onam with all the glitz and similarly, Kerala also loves to celebrate Christmas.Everyone in Kerala irrespective of religion, imbibe the true spirit of christmas by decorating their homes, and taking part in all the festivities associated with the festival. Kerala is also known to have some of the most artistically constructed churches.



The festival of womenfolk of Kerala, it is celebrated to commemorate the death of Kamadevan, the cupid of Hindu mythology and then was granted an eternal spiritual life to him by Lord Siva. The maidens of the Nair families perform rituals since early morning and enjoy swings accompanied by songs and music. Special delicacies are prepared and a dance known as Thiruvathirakali or Kaikottikkali is performed by a group of women dancing in a circle around a lighted brass lamp wearing traditional dresses and singing exclusive Tiruvathira songs.

Thrissur Pooram

thrissur pooram

Touted by UNESCO as “the most spectacular festival event on the planet”, Thrissur Pooram, celebrated in the month of April/May, is literally a behemoth of festivities that surpass everything else. On the day of Pooram, the sight of beautifully clad fifty or more elephants passing through the streets of Thrissur on the sound of beating drums is simply otherworldly. But this glorifying sight of the creatures isn’t the only highlight of the Thrissur Pooram, for the 36 hour long celebrations of the festival are undertaken with utmost discipline, following a proper schedule that begins with routine puja and ends with grand display of fireworks that match the best in the world.

Read more about Top 21 religious places to visit in Kerala

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Top 10 Places to Eat in Kochi

Toddy Shops

If you are looking to have authentically prepared Kerala food especially sea food like 1.jpgprawns and fish along with the famous alcoholic beverage made from the sap of palm trees then the toddy shops are a must visit offering some of the scrumptious dishes prepared in the real Kerala way. If you are picky and choosy about ambience and finesse then this definitely is not the place for you.

Check out some of the famous toddy shops that provide comparatively good quality service:

Tibetan Chef

16017123_S3NBWoWhwytb_dNfnWH7cDfHoRhxbqvhjVQaTlCetVQIn mood for simple subtle Chinese food minus fine dining? Tibetan Chef is your perfect place to be. Get a feel of the simple and humble setting where you can sit down with your family or friends, relax and have savoury food. It is tucked away down a quiet street away from noise and traffic and the food and service makes up for their lack of superior elegance and feel.




Dal Roti – Lilly Street, Fort Cochin

Located in Fort Cochin, on Lilly Lane, this place stays true its tag line ‘Desi Khana’ ( oetrNEjeaffeh_biggermeaning native food). The menu has an assortment of North Indian food such as Mughlai Parathas (breads), paratha stuffed with minced chicken and cooked to crisp perfection, Lachidar Parathas served with Lucknowi chicken and so on. The place comes alive in the evening with beautiful lighting.

Kashi Art cafe

29KIMP_KASHI2_1127644fKashi Art Café offers a tranquil lair for art lovers and lovers of continental food . The café serves all-day breakfasts, thick soups and uniquely flavoured sandwiches in addition to brewed tea and coffee. Kashi Art Café also serves homemade cakes and pies, which are prepared daily .



Kayees biryani

A mouth watering dish, Malabar biriyani is one of the most sought after dish in Kerala and one you will not be disappointed in can be found at Kayees Biriyani. You can either visit them at thier branch in Mattanchery or the one opposite Durbar Hall in Kochi. Rich in taste, the biryani here is cooked alongwith the meat and rice, and fragranced with whole garam masalas, raisins, cashews and fried onions.The must-try dishes here are the mutton biryani, which is served with papad, onions, dates chutney and chicken fry.

Fusion Bay

DSC06291The Fusion Bay is adorned with sturdy wooden furniture, low ceiling fans and exposed brick and terracotta entrance. It might not seem the ideal fancy place you would want to sit down for a long time but their extensive Kerala specialties does not cease to blow one away. This place should be on your culinary adventure list. Satisfaction and foodogasm guaranteed.


Dhe Puttu

Dhe-puttu-interiorPuttu is a favourite dish among the Malayali people. It is a type of steamed rice cake which is usually served during the breakfast. It is quite common in most households ofs Kerala. The restaurant servesl a variegated range of puttus , along with myriad side dishes too . Some of the marked dishes in the Menu are – Mambaya , Chirattaputt, Gothambu, etc.


Grand Pavilion

The Grand Pavilion Restaurant is an elegant restaurant that serves a rich menu with  dishes from a large number of places ranging from the West, North India, South India and most of the rest of the Asian continent.

Ginger House Restaurant

filename-dsc05897-jpgAs the name suggests, the restaurant specialises in ginger-based dishes, offering everything from ginger prawns, ginger ice cream and ginger lassi to ginger milkshakes and the zingy ginger tea. The waterfront view, coupled with Kochi’s old world charm, makes Ginger House a perfect place to relax and watch the boats sail by. Its uniqueness lies in its location within a museum. Situated behind an antique warehouse  Ginger House has a classy feel.

Malabar junction

ca282a85fd594d448569787c80480717_featured_v2Malabar junction is located on the Portuguese courtyard with an elegant ambiance and savory food. The dishes are prepared using quality ingredients which are locally sourced. Their sumptuous  thali is one of the must have dishes. They have a huge range of options ranging from the native to continental. One of the highlights of this place is the Carnatic music band  that light up the place at night.


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Continue reading “Top 10 Places to Eat in Kochi”

Thrissur Pooram – The Elephant Pageantry Festival

The City Thrissur

Thrissur is a city situated in the centre of Kerala state, India with a population of around 5.2 lakhs. The city is home to a large number of ancient temples and the mother of many art forms hence the rightly gained name as the “cultural capital” of Kerala. The name Thrissur is derived from “Thiru-Shiva-Perur”, which literally translates to “The city of the Sacred Siva” .


Thrissur Pooram

Temple festivals in Kerala are a part and parcel of people’s lives and occur at regular intervals in multiple temples varying in time according to the deities and Kerala calendar. The size and importance of these festivals vary from a small gathering to mega spectacles like the Thrissur pooram.

The Thrissur Pooram is considered to be the Mother of all Poorams, a culture highlight that towers above all other festivals .Thrissur pooram is a festival unique in its pageantry, magnitude and participation. It is not a mere temple festival in its strict sense but at the same time it is the festival of festivals of Kerala.

The Thrissur Pooram, celebrated in the Malayalam month Of Medom (April-May) is a grand assembly of Gods and Goddesses in and around Thrissur. These Gods and Goddesses make their visit to the Vadakumnathan Temple premises on caparisoned elephants accompanied by grand ensembles of Chenda melam and pancha vadyam.

The Ten participants of the Pooram are the Thiruvambady Bhagavathi and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi, Nethilakkavu Bhagavathi, Karamukku Bhagavathi, Ayyanthole Bhagavathi, Laloor Bhagavathi, Choorakkattukavu Bhagavathi, Chembukkavu Bhagavathi, Panamukkumpally Sastha, Kanimangalam Sastha. The processions and rituals of each of these deities follow a very strict itinerary, scheduled in such a way that the tempo of the Pooram celebrations – 36 hrs non-stop – is maintained without any loss of energy.



Thrissur pooram is 200 plus years old prior to which the “Arattupuzha pooram” had been conducted at Arattupuzha, some 16 km away from Vadakumnathan, which was known as the biggest temple festival of Kerala. All the temples participating Thrissur pooram and Kuttanellore pooram was the regular participant of “Arattupuzha pooram” .

Once these temples were delayed to attend the festival due to heavy rain or so and then chief of Peruvanam Gramam denied the entry. As an act of reprisal Thrissur Naduvazhi the chief of Vadakunnathan, known as Yogadiripad and Kuttanellur Naduvazhi started the pooram in Thrissur.

Later due to some reasons the Kuttanellur Naduvazhi disassociated the celebration at Thrissur. Since the withdrawal of Kuttanellur Naduvazhi the glamour of the pooram was lost and the two ‘Naduvazhies’ began to treat each other as enemies.

It was in this juncture the former ruler of Cochin, His Highness Ramavarma Raja, popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran (1751-1805 AD) became the Maharaja of Kochi. Sakthan Thampuran unified the 10 temples situated around Vadakumnathan temple and took steps to celebrate Thrissur Pooram as a mass festival.

Sakthan Thampuran classified the participants in to two groups the western and the Eastern The western group consist of Thiruvambady, Kanimangalam, Laloor, Ayyanthole, and Nethilakkavu temples. Paramekkavu, Karamukku, Chembukavu. Choorakottukavu and Panamukkamppilly comes under eastern group. The Maharaja re – organized the annual festival in its present form in front of Vadakumnathan. Sakthan Thampuran also directed the main temples at Thrissur, Paramekkavu and Thiruvambady to extent all support and help to other poorams which are coming from 2 to 10 KM. away from Vadakumnathan temple. Recently the Kanimangalam changed to eastern side. The event management of the whole pooram was chalked out by His Highness Sakthan Thamburan and followed iota till now.


Thrissur Pooram – The Format

The participant poorams are divided into two parts namely “Paramekkavu side” and “Thiruvambady side”. The Paramekkavu side consists of besides “Paramekkavu Bagavathy”.

1) Pookattikkara-Karamukku Baghavathy, 2) Choorakattukara Baghavathy, 3)Chempukkavu Baghavathy, 4) Panemukkumpilly Sastha. Besides Thiruvambady Baghavathy, the Thiruvambady side is having 1) Ayyanthole Baghavathy 2) Nethilakkavu Baghavathy 3) Laoor bagavathy 4) Kanimangalam Sastha.


Getting There


Thrissur does not have an airport. Nearest airport is Kochi Airport. i.e. 56 km away

Calicut International Airport (CCJ), Kozhikode, Kerala i.e. 95 km away


You can easily get regular trains to Thrissur from other major cities of the country.

Railway Station(s): Thrissur (TCR), Divine Nagar (DINR), Thrissur Punkunnam (PNQ)



There are regular buses from other major cities of the country to Thrissur.

Bus Station(s): Thrissur


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Attukal Pongala – Temple Festival of the Attukal Bhagavathy (Goddess)


India, the land that birthed Hinduism is teeming with temples, rituals and architectures that speak volumes of the spiritual and vibrant nature of this religion.

The state of Kerala houses some of the magnificent embodiments of the same. One such famous temple is the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple; home to the revered Goddess Attukal Bhagavathy, the Supreme Mother.

The Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, is one of the ancient temples of South India and is fondly known as theSabarimala of the Women folk as the women from all walks of life come here to worship the supreme goddess who is known to have taken form to annihilate the evil and protect the good in the world in the present Era namely Kaliyuga.

Origin and History


The story has it that the Goddess Bhagavathy revealed herself to a fervent devotee of a notable family namely the Mulluveettil family.

One day as thehead of the family was carrying out oblations in the Killi river, she is said to have appeared in front of him and asked him to assist her in crossing the river. The old man awed by her aura of divinity assister her in crossing the river as well as offering her the hospitality of his household. The young girl disappeared as she had appeared before whilst the members of the family were preparing to serve their guest.

That very night the Goddess Bhagavathy appeared in the dreams of the old man and demanded that he establish an abode for her in the nearby sacred ground at a consecrated spot marked by three lines. The next morning came across the very three marks that the goddess had spoken of in his dream. It was on this spot that the initial idol of the goddess was established. Several years later, the structure was renovated by the local devotees. A beautiful and majestic idol of the Deity with four arms, bearing weapons of destruction in each, like spear, sword, skull, shield etc was also installed.The consecration ceremony was carried out by the revered high priest of the Badarinath Temple.

In keeping with the mythology, Attukal Bhagavathy is the divine form of Kannaki, the famous heroine of Chilapathikaram, written by Elenkovadikal, the Tamil Poet. The story narrates the destruction of ancient city of Madurai, following with, Kannaki left the city and reached Kerala via Kanyakumari and on the way to Kodungalloor took a sojourn at Attukal. Kannaki is supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Parvathy, the consort of Parama siva. The all powerful and benign Attukal Bhagavathy reigns eternally supreme at Attukal. Thousands of devotees from far and near flock to the Temple to bow before the Goddess with awe and reverence to prostrate and redress their affliction and agony.

The Attukal Pongala Festival

The Pongala Mahotsavam (festival) is the most important festival of Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The offering of Pongala is a special temple practice prevalent in the southern part of Kerala and some parts of Tamilnadu.

It is a ten-day programme commencing on the Karthika star of the Malayalam month of Makaram-Kumbham (February-March) and closing with the sacrificial offering known as Kuruthitharpanam at night.

On the ninth day of the festival the world famous Attukal Pongala Mahotsavam takes place. The entire area of about 5 kilometre radius around temple with premises of houses of people of all caste, creed and religion, open fields, roads, commercial institutions, premises of Government offices etc. emerges as a consecrated ground for observing Pongala rituals for lakhs of women devotees assembling from different parts of Kerala and outside.

The ceremony is exclusively confined to women folk and the enormous crowd, which gathers in Thiruvananthapuram on this auspicious day is reminiscent of the Kumbhamela Festival of North India.

Architectural Magnificence


The Attukkal temple edifice is a harmonious conglomeration of both the Kerala and Tamil styles. The beautifully carved figures of Mahishasuramarddini, Goddess Kali, Rajarajeswari, Sree Parvathy with Lord Paramasiva and various other depictions of the Goddess in and around the temple are nothing less that the glorification of artistic genius .

The corridors surrounding the temple are flaunted by the depiction of various other Gods and the epic stories of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu viz., the “Desavathara”. On either side of the elegant front gopura – are the idolss based on the story of Goddess Kannaki. On the southern Gopura, the puranic story of “Dakshayaga” is depicted in sculptures. The decorated gate at the entrance of the temple is by itself an excellent example of architectural beauty.

There are two idols of the Goddess in the sanctum sanctorum. The original idol is preserved in all its pristine beauty covered in ornamental gold embedded with installed stones.

The second idol of the Goddess is installed besides the original one. Within the temple corridors are also installed carvings and sculptures of Lord Ganesa, the serpent God and Lord Shiva. At the centre of the Sanctum within the Sreekovil, at a consecrated spot is installed the idol of the Goddess Attukal Bhagavathy emanating light and lustre to all.

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Guruvayur Anaottam (Elephant Race)

Guruvayur is a famous town in the Thrissur district, home to one of the most  famous temples of India: the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple. It is noted as the fourth biggest temple in regard to devotees visiting in a day.

Dating back more than 5000 years, the Guruvayur temple was an accompanying shrine in the Trikkunavay Shiva temple till the shiva temple was torn down  by the Dutch in 1755

13_tvki_gvr_01_jpg_1786145f.jpganayottam (1).jpg

Origin and Legend

Amongst several temple festival and events is the most exciting one of all, the ‘Anaottam’ or the elephant race. Myth has it that before the destruction of the Trikkunavay temple, elephants for the temple festival were usually sent from the Trikkunavay temple to the Guruvayur temple whose festival commenced two days after the Trikkunavay temple festival. Once, on delayed payment, the elephants were not sent to Guruvayur; following which the elephants are said to have broken chains and run off to Guruvayur without their mahouts.

This incident made way through time to form what is today known as the famous ‘Anaottam’ of the Guruvayur temple which marks the beginning of the Guruvayur temple festival. The

The Festival

The race begins from Manjulal, a banyan tree at half a kilometre away from the eastern entrance to the temple where after the elephants enter the temple, take 7 rounds and touch the flagstaff in the end. The first elephant to touch the flagstaff is given regal treatment during the festival in addition to the privilege of bearing the Lord’s representation for the procession.

A large throng of people gather to witness and add on to the intense and exciting atmosphere of the race. Tightened security  by the Temple board is remarkable during this event as all measures are taken to prevent and prepare for accidents the accompany such events.

During this occasion, a ritual called the ‘Seeveli’ is also performed serving as a reminiscence of the years when the temple did not have an elephant.

The main event is accompanied by the rhythmic percussions and flying energy and exhilaration.

How To Reach

By Road

Guruvayoor is well connected with the other parts of the country by road and rail. The National highway is passing through Kunnamkulam which is just 8 kms away from Guruvayoor. The private bus stand is towards the east of the temple, near Manjulal (the banyan tree). It is half an hour drive by car from Thrissur and busses ply every 5 minutes from Thrissur to Guruvayoor.

Kerala Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) runs bus services from all major locations of the state and  few inter-state services. The bus stand is 500 meters to the west of the temple. Both KSRTC and private busses offer interstate services to all major South Indian cities like Madras, Madurai, Palani, Salem, Coimbatore, Thiruchandoor, Mysore, Mangalore, Uduppi, Mookambika etc.

By rail

Guruvayoor has got a railway station towards the east of the temple which is connected to the Madras-Mangalore main line at Thrissur. It has got computerised ticket booking facility and tickets can be booked to any locations from here. One from the Mangalore side can get down at the Kuttippram station. Regular bus services are available from there to Guruvayoor. Those from the Madras/Trivandrum side can get down at Thrissur.

By Air

Kochi international airport (Nedumbassery) is 80 kms from Guruvayoor and the Calicut airport is 100 kms away. All major international flight services are operated from these airports.


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Adoor Gajamela

On February first week at Parthasarathy temple, Adoor, (near KSRTC bus stand, Adoor), Pathanamthitta district the event Adoor Gajamela takes place.

Gajamela or the elephant pageant on the concluding day is the highlight of the 10-day annual festival at the Sree Parthasarathy Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Sree Krishna, known here in the name of Parthasarathy (Partha’s charioteer; Partha (Arjuna) was one of the five Pandava princes, the heroes of the epic, Mahabharatha). Majestically caparisoned elephants take part in this spectacular procession.

Getting there:
Nearest railway station: Chengannur, about 25 km away.
Nearest airport: Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 92 km away

Dance Forms Of Kerala


According to the Hindu mythology, dance is believed to have been conceived by  the supreme Lord Brahma who inspired the sage Bharata Muni to write the Natya Shastra, a treatise on performing arts. From this emerged the practice of dance and drama. It is supposed that he used pathya (words) from the Rigveda, abhinaya (gestures) from the Yajurveda, geet (music) from the Samaveda and rasa (emotions) from the Atharvaveda to form the Natyaveda (body of knowledge about dance). The greatest of the Hindu deities-Shiva, Kali and Krishna-are typically represented dancing. Shiva’s cosmic dance, tandava, Kali’s dance of creation and destruction and Krishna’s dance with the gopikas (cow-herd girls)-Rasa Lila-are popular motifs in Hindu mythology.

‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala, possesses a rich collection of such unique  forms of dances and art. There are  many native folk dances which are performed during temple festivals and other ceremonious occasions. A marked attraction in each of these dances are the accompanying costumes and ornaments adorned by the performers. The dances of Kerala can be divided into mainly three types being the folk dances, dance dramas and semi-classical dances .

Folk Dances:

There are more than fifty well known folk dances in kerala. Of them the Kaliyattom, Mudiettu, Kolam thullal, Kolkali, Poorakkali, Valakali, Kamapadavukali, Kanniyarkali, Parichamuttukali, Thappukali, Kuravarkali and Thiruvathirakali are most popular.

Kummi is perhaps the most captivating with its continuously increasing pace and rhythm of the song and the dance steps and the exciting advancement of the complication of the dance steps that enchants the audience.


Tiruvathira is a popular group dance performed during Onam festival in Kerala. It is performed by maidens moving in circle and dancing rhythmically to the tune of Thiruvathira songs. One of the well known thiruvathira songs is the narrative poetry based on the story of Shakuntala that Machatt Illyat wrote for this dance in the first half of the nineteenth century.


Margamkali is a group dance developed by the Syrian Christians of Kerala with the word ‘Margam’ meaning ‘path’. The dancers sing themselves while dancing in a circle around a lighted oil lamp. The master, leader and tutor of the performance of the troupe is known as ‘Asan’.

Kolkali has a group performing dance in a circle, choreographed in such a way that dancers make rhythmic beat with short sticks in their hands. The steps are vibrant while songs consist mostly of meaningless syllables followed by verses. The dance gains tempo and pace as it advances. Only males participate in this dance and require basic martial art training to perform its complicated steps.

Oppana and Aravanmuttu are the dance forms performed by the Muslims of Kerala. These are performed by both men and women. Oppana is accompanied by clapping of hands. Mainly performed in marriages, the women perform in a circle and receive the bride while men stand aside singing songs, ready to receive the bridegroom. However, the origin of Aravana can be traced back to the Arabs and is still accompanied by Arabic music. The instrument used to produce rhythm is called daf or tap, a round percussion instrument with one side covered with hide.

Dance Dramas:


Kathakali is a well-developed dance drama where the actors depict characters from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata and the Puranas (ancient scriptures). Adorned with elaborately painted faces, headgears and grand costumes, the dancers are accompanied by drummers and vocalists. Ritual traditions like Theyyams, Mudiyattam and the martial arts of Kerala played a major role in shaping the dance into its present form. The great poet Vallathol rediscovered Kathakali and established the Kerala Kalamandalam in 1932.

Yatrakali is known by different names such as Samghakkali, Chattira Ankam , Sastramkam , Kshatramkam or Panemkali. An art of the Nambootiris, it originated when the Nambootiris were persecuted under the rule of one of the Cheraman Perumals who accepted the Buddhist faith as a mirror held against the artistic and social sense of the region and the times.

Ochirakali is held at a place called Ochira in Alleppey district as a part of an annual festival where a mock fight is staged lasting for two days to commemorate a battle fought between the kings of two feudal principalities, Kayamkulam and Ambalapuzha. The fight takes place in front of the Ochira temple that has no temple building or any image of god or goddess. Each group advances in offence and retreats in defence and the movements gain momentum and tempo as the show advances.

Chavittunatakam is a Christian dramatic form which was introduced during the time of the Portuguese in Kerala in the16th century A.D. ‘Chavittu’ means the rhythmic steps which accompanied the recitation of lines. Inspired by the Western Opera type of theatre, the themes, acting techniques, stage structure and plot treatment presented were western while the texts were written in old Tamil.

Krishnattam was founded by Manavedan and is a choreographed dance drama based on Krishna’s life while the Raja of Kottarakkara introduced Ramanattam, play based on Ramayana. Ramanattam was performed in Manipravala style and was performed by the Raja himself and his Nayar soldiers.

Chakyar Koothu is an ancient dance form performed in Kerala. In this highly refined dance form, the performer narrates events from Hindu epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is generally performed in temples during special occasions and festivals and is accompanied by satirical humor.

Semi Classical Dance:

Mohiniyattam, also known as thedance of the enchantress” precedes Kathakali in history. It is a female semi-classical sensual dance form performed mainly in the temple precincts of Kerala. The, Mohiniyattam is also the heir to Devadasi dance heritage like Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi. The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in ‘Vyavaharamala’ composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, assigned to the 16th century AD. Vallathol, a poet, revived it and gave it a status in modern times.


Thullal, meaning dance, is the cumulative product of all traditional folk and classical theatrical arts of Kerala. It was founded by Kunchan Nambiar in the 18th century to represent the accumulated aesthetic experience of all sections of the society. Based on different styles of narrative singing, rhythms of dancing, foot work and make-up of the dancer, three varieties of Thullal that were evolved in course of time with the Ottam Thullal being the most popular one followed by the Seethankan Thullal and  the Parayan Thullal.

Koodiyattam emerged in the ninth century as a full-fledged dramatic presentation in Sanskrit. Koodiyattom is a temple art and probably the only surviving form of the traditional presentation of Sanskrit drama.

Nanniar Koothu is a dance form conducted in some prominent Kerala temples by the women of the Nambiar community, who are believed to be the descendants of the Devadasis community, as a ceremonial ritual. It is a solo dance based on the story of Sri Krishna.

Theyyam is a popular dance form performed in Malabar region of Kerala. For thousands of years, Theyyam and its rituals are in practice in this region. It is a Dravidian art form and is quite popular due to its accessibility to lower castes.

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