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Kerala Arts

Kerala Performing Arts

The traditional Kathakali dance-drama is performed by many companies in Cochin, at Kerala Kalamandalam near Thrissur, and at Aranmula’s Vijnana Kala Vedi Cultural Centre.  In addition, some 50 classical, folk, and tribal dances survive throughout Kerala, many unique to a particular caste or temple.  The graceful, swaying movements of coconut palms. Kalaripayattu is Kerala’s natife martial art; some believe it was exported to china along  with Budhism.  Many hotels in Kerala stage cultural performances in peak season.


The art from of kathakali crystallized at around the same time as Shakespeare was scribbling his plays, though elements of it stem from2nd- century temple rituals. The Kathakali performance is the dramatized presentation of  play. Usually based on the Hindu epics the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the puranas. All the great themes are covered- righteousness and evil, frailty and courage, poverty and prosperity, war and peace. Drummers and singers accompany the actors. Who tell the story through their precise movements, particularly mudras and facial expressions. Traditionally , performances tool place in temple  grounds and went from 8pm until dawn; now shorter performance in other open-air locales, as indoor halls, are also popular Preparation for the performance is lengthy and disciplined . paint, fantastic costumes, highly decorated headpieces and mediations transform the actors both physically and mentally into the gods, heroes and demons they are about to play.
You’ll can see cut-down performance in tourist hot sports all over the state, and there are Kathakali schools in Trivandrum and near thrissur that encourage  visitors . Many temple festivals across the state feature traditional all-night Kathakali shows; ask at DTPC offices.


Karala’s most popular ritualistic art form, theyyam, is believed to predate Hinduism and to have developed from folk dances performed in the kavus that are abundant throughout northern  Kerala. Theyam refers to both the form of shape of the deity or hero portrayed, and to he ritual. There are around 450 different theyyams , each with a distinct costume, Face paint, bracelets, breastplates, skirts, garlands and especially headdresses are exuberant, intricately crafted and sometimes huge . today’s theyyam performances have morphed to incorporate popular Hindu deities and even Muslim characters. The performer prepares for the ritual with a period of abstinence , fasting and mediation, which extends into the laborious make-up  and costume session. During the performance, the performer loses his physical identity and speaks, moves and blesses the devotees as if he were the deity. There is frenzied dancing and wild drumming, and a surreal, otherwouldly atmosphere is created, the kind of atmosphere in which a deity indeed might, If it so desired, manifest itself in human form. The theyyam season is October to May, during which time there will be an annual ritual at each kavu. Theyyams are also often held to bring good fortune to important events, such as marriages and house warmings. See above for details on how to find one.

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