Kerala presents kaleidoscope of ritual and art

Yeldos Varghese

Performing arts occupy a distinct place in Kerala’s heritage.

The various art forms are intertwined with the culture of the land and are blended with the lives of the people; the art forms were born out of the rich culture of Kerala.

Kerala has developed Performing Arts for more than 1000 years, with its own brand of traditional music instruments, some of which are becoming rare.

Kathakali is one of the most significant contributions of Keralites to the worldwide stage, for the dancer/s, with extensive and unique makeup that takes several hours, narrate stories from epics. We hope to present Kathakali sometime in the future in Auckland.

Among the other popular forms of art are ‘Koodiyattam’ which has earned the status of UNESCO Heritage.

Kummattikali, Kannyarkali, Thullal, Thirayattam, Padayani and Theyyam are also popular, although they are not performed in many places.

Auckland Malayali Samajam brought together many local performers at the Festivals of South India held on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at Sacred Heart College Auditorium.

Varying styles, formats

Kerala’s artistic talent ranges from the unique Kutiyattam, the State’s version of the Sanskrit dance – drama to Kathakali, Kerala Natanam and other classical art forms.

Kalamezhuthu, Sarpam Thullal and Theyyam are still preserved without losing their essential essence and charm.

Velakali calls to mind the interest in the warfare of ancient Kerala. Together with the art forms of the tribals, all the classical and ritual art forms provide the art buff both aural and visual delight. These art forms are in every sense timeless.

Mohiniyattam – Keshaadipaadam

Mohiniyattam is one of the eight classical dances of India that was developed and remained popular in the state of Kerala. It gets its name from ‘Mohini,’ a mythical divine enchantress Avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu and ‘Aattam’ means dance.

It follows the Lasya style, which is delicate and feminine.

The leisurely movements, the swaying yet graceful symphony of the hips and eye movements that enchant all who witness them are all synonymous with this legendary art form. Its elegant costume, traditional jewellery and alluring makeup are closely associated with the culture of Kerala.

Dr Dhanya Sreekanth presented Mohini Attam at the Festival, proving her mastery in the art. As well as performing and teaching this dance style to a growing number of students, Dr Dhanya is also a Kuchipudi artiste, proficient in this art for more than 20 years.

Margam Kali

Margam Kali is a ritual art form popular among certain sects of the Christian community of Kerala. Rhythmic movements and songs are the major attractions. The participants wear traditional costumes and jewellery.

The movements of this art form are very difficult and Margam Kali needs rigorous training to master this art form. The songs are mostly devotional and some of them present the history of Christianity in Kerala.

The word ‘Margam’ means path or way or solution in Malayalam. In the religious context, it refers to the path to attain salvation.

Among the performers of Margam Kali were Athulya Sreejith, Blessy Adarsh, Dhanya Sujith, Priyadarshini Balachandran, Shalini Menon and Shilpa Prem.

Yeldos Varghese is President, Auckland Malayali Samajam, one of the Organisers of the First Annual Indian Newslink Festivals of South India representing the State of Kerala.


Photo Caption:

  1. Dr Dhanya Sreekanth performing Mohini Attam at the Festivals of South India
  2. Margam Kali, an energetic, ritual dance unique to Kerala

(Pictures by Creative Eye Fotographics)

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