Kerala Art & Culture
Spectacular visual effects and stunning music are hallmarks of Kerala's performing arts. In a land which cannot
boast of monumental architectural feats, unlike many other parts of India, the performing arts, both individually and collectively,
make up for the lost magnificence. No other State in India can match the grandeur and creativity of Kerala's performing arts.
The classical and ritual arts of Kerala have always enjoyed a rich patronage, from the former kings who ruled the state to
the latter day democratic governments.
Kerala owes its transnational fame to this nearly 300 years old classical dance form which combines facets of ballet,
opera, masque and the pantomime. It is said to have evolved from other performin....Chavittunatakom
A Christian art form of Kerala. Evolved at the turn of the 16th Century AD during the Portuguese colonization and bears
definite traces of the European Christian Miracle Play. In this musical drama,....
A dance form essential to the wedding entertainment and festivities
of the Malabar Muslims. Maidens and young female relatives sing and dance around the bride, clapping their hands. The songs
A spectacle for both the scholar and the simple rustic. The visual effect is enhanced by varied and colourful facial
make-up with larger-than-life-masks, made of light wood and cloth padding, for ce....Mohiniyattom
The sinuous dance of the enchantress, this is a distinctive classical dance form of Kerala. Slow, graceful, swaying movements
of the body and limbs and highly emotive eye and hand gestures are uniqu....Kakkarissi
Kakkarissi natakom is a satirical dance-drama based on the puranic legends of Lord Siva and his
consort Parvati when they assumed human forms as Kakkalan and Kakkathi - a nomadic tribe of fortune.Kootiyattom
Kootiyattam is a dance traditionally enacted in temples. Kootiyattam is Kathakali's 2000 year old predecessor and is
offered as a votive
offering to the deity.
Duffmuttu is also known as Aravanamuttu. It is a group performance popular
among the Muslims of Malabar. Duffmuttu is staged as a social event during festivals and nuptial ceremonies.
Kerala Ritual Art
Theyyam also known as Kaliyattam, it is a ritual dance popular in north Kerala or the erstwhile Kolathunadu. Theyyam incorporates
dance, mime and music and enshrines the rudiments of ancient tribal....
Patayani is a week- long ritual dance, held in Kaali temples on the banks of the Pamba river during the Malayalam months
of Meenam and Medam (March - April). The choice theme of the dancers is the s....
This ritual offering to Goddess Kaali is performed in many places of South Malabar. A troupe of dancers dress up as
Kaali (the Thira) and the accompanying spirits (the Poothams) who were created alo....Paana
Paana or Pallippaana, as it is sometimes called, is a ritual art to propitiate the goddess Bhadrakaali. The art form
is popular in the districts of Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram. Paana is part o....
Mudiyettu is a ritual dance performed in some Kaali temples of Ernakulam and Kottayam districts (central Kerala). The
dance celebrates the goddess's triumph over the demon Daarikan. Mudiyettu is per.Koothu
Koothu is a socio-religious art performed in the Koothambalam or the Koothuthara of temples, either independently or as
part of Kootiyattam. It is a solo narrative performance interspersed with mime.Kannyarkali
Kannyarkali, also known as Desathukali, is a folk art exclusively practised by the Nair community of the
Palakkad area. It owes its origin to the pursuit of martial arts in this region.Arjuna
Arjuna nritham (the dance of Arjuna) is a ritual art performed by men and is prevalent in the Bhagavathy
temples of Kerala. Arjuna, the most valiant of the five heroic brothers - the Pandavas.Tholppavakkoothu
Tholppavakkoothu, literally meaning 'leather puppet play', is a ritual art performed during the annual festivals in
the Kaali temples of Palakkad district. The theme of the play is based on the Kamb.Velakali
This spectacular martial dance is performed by men in some of the temples of southern Kerala. The dancers, clad in
the traditional clothes and colourful headgear of the medieval Nair soldiers, engag.Kalamezhuthu
The kalam is a unique drawing also called dhulee chithram
or powder drawing. The artist uses the floor as his canvas. Kalamezhuthu pattu is performed as part of the rituals to worship
Margomkali is a ritual folk art of the
Syrian Christians of Kottayam and Thrissur districts. A dozen dancers sing and dance around a lighted wick lamp ( Nilavilakku),
clad in the simple traditional.Kavadiyattom
Kavadiyattam, a colourful
ritual art, is a votive offering to Sree Subramanya. Basically of Tamil origin, Kavadiyattam is widely prevalent in the Subramanya
temples all over Kerala during the festiv.
is a solo dance-drama performed in front of the Kalam or Dhooli Chitram (ritual drawing with coloured powders). It is enacted
in some Bhagavathy temples of Thiruvalla, Kottayam, Thripunith.
Kerala's unique selling point is its rich culture which was mellowed by centuries-old rich heritage. Culture and heritage
are pervasive presence across the state and are kept alive through the state's performing arts. Performing arts, a slice of culture
Kerala’s performing arts are feast to the eyes of tourists.
A sheer variety of art forms, when performed by consummate artistes with the requisite paraphernalia make watching them worth.
Legends and legendary characters resurrect from the dog-eared pages of history books and make their apparitions on the stages
leaving the audience in ecstasy. The attire, roves and facial expressions of the artistes are a sumptuous treat for eyes.
Centuries down, Kerala’s performing arts had enjoyed the patronage and pats from successive rulers. Besides, the now
defunct feudal system had also contributed for the nourishment of art and culture. The Northern region of the state is a repertoire
of arts and culture. Many of these performing arts are enmeshed with the cultural history of religious communities. While
classical art forms such as Kathalkali and Bharathayatyam were the stronghold of upper class, those from lower strata of the
society performed dance forms such as theyyam and padayani. If the former class performed in the temple premises and specially
erected stages, the later had to venture on streets to show their artistic prowess.
Besides, the aborigines of the state have their own art forms. Cherumarkali, a harvest dance is one among them. Dancers,
men and women, with hands entwined, waltz rhythmically to the drumbeats. They will send you into trance. Rapturous moments
for audience. Dainty world of performing arts. Engrossing ensemble of dance and folk arts.
Flamboyant cultural procession
is an integral part of any festival here. In temple fests, deities adorned with glittering jewels and colorful garlands are
shouldered in the procession to the accompaniment of chanting of hymns, blowing of conches and playing of nadswaram.
Pooram, the spectacle of splendour, is the greatest cultural extravaganza in Kerala. Celebrated on First May every year, this
is also the stage for the biggest show of pyrotechnics.
the unusual cuisine of Kerala brings to the fore the culinary expertise of the people of
Kerala. Producing some of the tastiest foods on earth, the people of Kerala are gourmets with a difference.
is very hot and spicy and offers several gastronomic opportunities. The food is generally fresh, aromatic and flavoured. Keralites
are mostly fish-and-rice eating people.
The land and the food are rich with coconut, though one can't imagine Kerala
food without chilies, curry leaf, mustard seed, tamarind and asafoetida.
Just a pinchful of tamarind can substitute
tomatoes, but there is no real substitute for curry leaf. Since time immemorial, coconut has been an integral part of the
cuisine of Kerala.
These people put to good use whatever the land offers and the result is a marvellous cuisine that
is simple yet palate tickling. They relish equally a dish as simple as 'kanji' (rice gruel) or as extravagant as the 'sadya'
Sadya is the elaborate dish, which is a totally extravagant affair. Avial, an all time favourite,
is a happy blend of vegetables, coconut paste and green chillies. Avial's seasoning is a spoonful of fresh coconut oil and
a sprinkling of raw curry leaves, stirred in immediately after the dish is taken off the stove.
is made out of cubed potatoes, onions and green chillies cooked in coconut milk with plenty of red chilli. 'Olan', a bland
dish of pumpkin and red grams is prepared by cooking it in thin gravy of coconut milk.
and irresistible desserts form an essential part of the meals. These are served midway through the meals.
is a thick fluid dish of brown molasses, coconut milk and spices, garnished with cashewnuts and raisins. There could be a
succession of payasams, such as the lentil payasam and the jackfruit payasam, Bengal gram payasam and so on, though 'Adapradhaman', a rich payasam with thin rice wafers,
is arguably the ultimate delicacy.
'Palppayasam', made with sugar, ghee and spices, brewed in creamy white milk is
regarded as the last word in sweet dishes. This is served with a golden yellow sweet pancake known as 'boli'.
The hot Rasam, served after a delectable array of sweets, is a tangy deviation from the symphony of tastes
and is poured on another serving of rice. The famous British 'Mulligatawny Soup' is said to have derived its flavour from
Rasam is a mixture of chilly and pepper corns powders boiled in diluted tamarind juice. The pulissery is seasoned
buttermilk with turmeric powder and green chillies. 'Moru' or plain sour buttermilk comes salted and with chopped green chillies
Appam is the soft pancake made from toddy fermented rice batter,
with a soft spongy middle, which is laced with crispy edges. It is generally consumed with either vegetable or chicken or
mutton stew, thoroughly mellowed with thick coconut milk and garnished with curry leaves.
A type of
steam cake, 'Puttu' is made from rice flour and steamed in long hollow bamboo or metal cylinders. Depending on the taste preference,
Puttu can be had with steamed bananas and sugar or with a spicy curry made from gram or chickpeas.
A sumptuous, mouthwatering delicacy, it's a not- to- be-missed combination of 'Kappa' and 'Meen curry'.
With natural flavours erupting out of it liberally, the fish curry is made with garlic paste, onions and red chillies and
seasoned with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
Kerala’s architecture is an ensemble of simplicity and elegance.
Simple and all embracing, it is tailored to suite Kerala’s climate and culture.
The time-tested dexterity of
Kerala’s master architectures is ostensible in the construction of umpteen temples, mosques and churches bestrewn across
The temples structures have intricate details that are breathtaking, which never fails to fascinate an
observer. Agraharams, the conglomeration of Tamil Brahmin houses, at Kalpathy in Palakkad show the fulgent face of aesthetic
sense of a generation.
Bypore Khalasees, a microscopic group in Kozhikode, have devised
their own method of construction. This endangered Muslim group had construction several bridges in stultifying pace. This
team had done yeomen service in several rescue missions in Kerala.
Idols and curios,
manufactured in several parts of the state, are a fusion of dexterity and technical know-how. Aranmula mirror, a unique mirror
being manufactured at Aranmula in Pathanamthitta, has taken the fame of Kerala’s architecture overseas.
Temples, churches and mosques abound in Kerala, signifying a glorious
history and representing the eventful political, cultural and religious life of the state. History is a pervasive presence
here. Many Christian churches were built with the help of Hindu Kings. However, the post-independent development spree, bereft
of little concern for culture and tradition, has left our traditional knowledge system bear the brunt. Even amid the onslaught
of modernism, a few embers glow that can fan up the Kerala consciousness.
The colorful mosaic of Kerala festivals and fairs is as diverse as the land, is an expression of the
spirit of celebration, that is an essential part of the State. Observed with enthusiasm and gaiety, festivals are like gems,
ornamenting the crown of Kerala tradition and culture. Round the year the fests keep Kerala life vibrant and interludes in
the mundane affairs of life.
Every season turns up new festivals, each a true celebration of the bounties of nature.
The festivals exhibits an eternal harmony of spirit. Packed with fun and excitement, festivals are occasions to clean and
decorate houses, to get together with friends and relatives and to exchange gifts.
Aaranmula Boat Race
The Aaranmula Boat Race is staged each year in the scenic village of Aaranmula in August/ September. This river carnival
is part of the Aaranmula Temple festival. Masses throng the shores of the River Pamba to watch an imposing cluster of snake
boats called 'Palliyodams'.
Each boat, nearly 100 feet long, is a remarkable feat of craftsmanship, with the stem
curved to resemble the hood of a snake and a tampering bow. Festooned with silk and gold spangled umbrellas, the boats are
manned by a crew of more than 100 men.
Cochin Carnival is a merry making feast observed
during the last week of every year in Fort Kochi in Kerala. The carnival dates back to the Portuguese New Year revelry held
here during the colonial days.
It has evolved as an occasion for the youth to enjoy the party-like atmosphere. With
unique games, competitions and illumination during these days, Fort Kochi puts on a festive look. The highlight of the Carnival
is the massive procession on the New Year Day.
The procession is led by a caparisoned elephant accompanied by drums
and music, spectacular floats, different folk art forms, Panchavadyam etc. north indian dances also figure in the festivities.
Muharram is the opening month of the Hijra year. The 10th
day of this month (May) is honoured by the Muslims of Kerala. As per belief, it was on this day that the Imam Hussain, the
grandson of Prophet Mohammed, and his men were slain at Karbala.
It is to bemoan the martyrdom of the Imam that the
Muslims observe Muharram. Fasting is an important ritual of this day. Onam
The Harvest Festival - Onam
Onam, the harvest festival is the most popular festival of Kerala.
A festival that celebrates a happy blend of myth and reality, Onam is part of the cultural repertoire of every Malayalee.
It brings back nostalgic memories, carried on the wings of folklore, of a bygone Utopian era of prosperity, equality
and righteousness, under the golden reign of Mahabali. Year after year, for centuries, the people of Kerala, irrespective
of caste, creed or colour, join together to welcome back their vanquished king. The ten-day Onam festival falls in August-September,
coinciding with the beginning of the harvest season.
The Sabarimala Temple festival is celebrated
in honour of Lord Ayyapa who is revered by all in India.
Sabarimala is a renowned pilgrim centre atop the rugged hills
of the Western Ghats. This holy shrine is dedicated to Lord Ayappa. The main pilgrimage is undertaken between November and
There are two main rituals called the Mandal Puja and the Makara Sankranti Puja, which is celebrated from
November to mid-January in Kerala during which time, the devotees perform austerities and penance.
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
Nehru Trophy Boat Race is the most famous of the boat races of Kerala. This annual regatta is held on
the Punnamada Backwaters of Alappuzha district on the second Saturday of August.
The event is a commemoration of the
visit to this place by the late Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1952.
The spectacular races features
magnificent snake boats or 'Chundans'. The boisterous and rhythmic boat songs or Vanchipattu work the spectators to a state
Malabar Mahotsavam is a cultural extravaganza
that showcases the centuries old rich cultural heritage of Kerala. The event is at Mananchira maidan (ground) in the heart
of Kozhikode town from 13th to 16th January every year.
The festival highlights musical concerts, performances of
various classical dances like Kathakali, Mohiniyattom, Ottanthullal etc and ritual artforms like Koothu, Thewam, Thira etc.
The festival is also an occasion to relish the native cuisines and enjoy mind blowing firework displays.
Swathi festival is a gala event of music organised
by the Government of Kerala every year in the last week of January.
The venue is the famous Kuthiramalika Palace.
Thiruvananthapuram, where once upon a time the great poet-king of Travancore, Sri Swathi Thirunal, composed many of his verses.
An august gathering of great maestros from all over the country celebrate Indian classical music in all its variety
Pallivetta (Royal Hunt) and Arattu (Holy Bath) are part
of the rituals of the festivals of some of the major temples of Kerala.
The speciality of the Arattu at the Sree Padmanabha
Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram is that the head of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore still provides escort to the
procession of idols. The two annual ten-day festivals of the temple fall in October- November and March- April.
Jagannatha Festival is a colourful eight-day
festival, which is held in the Malayalam month of Kumbham (February/ March) at the Jagannatha Temple at Madathiparambu, near
Thalassery in Kannur.
The idol of Lord Siva, the presiding deity was installed here by the famous social reformer
and philosopher, Sree Narayana Guru on 13th February, 1908. The seventh day of the festival is the most auspicious.
event highlights religious conferences participated by eminent scholars and social reformers, elephant processions, fireworks
display and cultural programmes.
The festival of Attachamayam is held on the Atham
day of the Malayalam month of Chingam (August/ September), at the historical town of Tripunithura, near Kochi. It is a celebration
of a legendary victory of the Raja of Kochi.
Pomp and colour mark the pageantry, which is replete with caparisoned
elephants, varieties of folk art forms, floats and musical ensemble. This spectacular procession marks the beginning of the
Indira Gandhi Boat Race
Indira Gandhi Boat Race is a grand fest
on the rolling backwaters of Kochi. Conducted in the last week of December, it is a fitting finale to the Tourism Fair, which
attracts travellers from all parts of the globe.
The sixteen majestic snake boats racing neck to neck in gaiety and
competition to the sky-rending cheers of the multitudes, is a unique sight. The coveted trophy of the race was instituted
in memory of Indira Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India