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Kerala is a land of many rivers, the banks of which offered a
cradle to the growth of a rich and heterogeneous culture. The
great river Periyar, with its many tributaries, is a symbol of
Hinduism with its different cults, branches and practices. On
the banks of this river, in a village called Kalady, was born
the great philosopher saint Adi Sankara who augmented the flow
of the Hindu religion in its modern form across the whole
country. The banks of the river Bharathapuzha (Nila), in
Thirunavaya, was the
of the Mamankam festival held in fixed periodicity, where
suicidal squads of brave soldiers courted death for their
respective rulers for the supreme status of power
and authority. The presence of a temple devoted to the trinity
of Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva marks the river on its
course here as a sacred spot for purification and liberation of
souls. On the banks of the same river, at Cheruthuruthi stands
the Kerala Kalamandalam, the seat of classical dance forms such
as Kathakali and and Koodiyattom, the two popular symbols of
Kerala's culture is distinct and
unique and that has made it popular to tourists from around the
The culture of Kerala is also a composite and cosmopolitan
culture to which several people and races have made their
significant contributions. Kerala's population comprises of a
large number of the people from the Dravidians race, who also
inhibit most of the southern part of India. Hinduism is the
principal religion with considerable percentages of Muslims and
Christians. The gradual evolution of composite and cosmopolitans
culture led to the emergence of a spirit of tolerance and
catholicity of outlook, which still persist among the people of
The cultural heritage of Kerala is also revealed in its varied
dance forms, martial arts and cuisine. Kathakali is a
300-year-old dance form developed exclusively in Kerala
combining the performing art forms of opera, ballet, masque, and
pantomime. Other dance forms of Kerala are Krishnanattom,
Mohiniyattom, Thullal, Koodiyattom, Kolkkali, Thiruvathirakali,
Kakkarishi Natakom, Oppanna and Chavittunatakom. Panchavadyam,
Nadanpattu, Omanathinkal Kidavo and many more music forms have
evolved over the centuries in Kerala.
Kerala culture has deeply influenced and enriched the Indian
cultural heritage and has been its integral part. Kerala is
isolated from the decant plateau by the mountainous belt of the
Western Ghats, but with a long coastline open to foreign
influences, Kerala has evolved a unique culture. Kerala's
population comprises of a large number of the people from the
Dravidians race, who also inhibit most of the southern part of
India. Hinduism is the principal religion with considerable
percentages of Muslims and Christians.
Kerala is isolated from the decant plateau by the mountainous
belt of the Western Ghats, but with a long coastline open to
foreign influences, Kerala has evolved a unique culture. It is a
highly politicized region, but has a long tradition of religious
amity. It is an educationally advanced state with its own
language, Malayalam, and has the highest rate of literacy (100%)
among Indian states.
The festivals and art forms of Kerala are intricately beautiful.
Every festival, though connected with religious temples and
shrines, is more of a socio cultural event in which people of
all creeds participate. Today, these festivals are perhaps the
only occasions when the classical, folk and ritual arts of the
state come alive. In addition, it is interesting to note that no
celebration in Kerala is complete without an elephant pageant.
temple festivals, Trissur Pooram at Trissur is the most popular,
where 30 caparisoned elephants, exhilarating percussion
ensemble, colorful umbrellas atop elephants, magnificent
fireworks combine to create a virtual feast for the senses.
Theyyam,Thira,Mudiyettu, Kaduvakali, Velakali, Kakkarissinatakam,
Chavittunadakam, Margamkali, Kolkali, Parichamuttukali,
Bhadrakalipattu, Pulluvanpattu and Thiruvathirakali are a few of
Kerala's folk art forms.
Kalaripayattu is the comprehensive system of the marital arts of
Kerala regarded as one of the oldest and most scientific in the
world. Even kung-fu is believed to have originated from
For the Culture enthusiasts, Kerala has much to offer.
Kerala's history and culture dates back to centuries. Ancient
rulers of the State took special interest in promoting the art
and culture of the State.
Koodiyattam is a form of Sanskrit dram a which is
associated with temple rituals is perhaps the oldest form of
classical arts in Kerala.
Koodiyattam literally means "acting together". This is the
earliest classical dramatic art form of Kerala. Chakyars enact
the male-characters and Nangiars enact the female-characters.
Kathakali's 2000 years old predecessor, Koodiyattam is
performed as a votive offering to the deity in the temple.
Kathakali is perhaps the only dance form in which the
entire body is used to portray a story.
Kathakali was born only in the 17th century. The Kathakali artistes wear
elaborate costumes, ornaments and facial make-up. This dance
drama has been referred to as 'the first theatre of imagination'
in the world. The
name Kathakali is derived form the two words "Katha" meaning
story and "Kali" for dance.It is a beautiful mix of dance, drama
and music that the connoisseurs of art world qualified as 'a
total art form of immense sophistication and power'.
Mohiniyattom ( the dance of the enchantress) is a
distinct type of dance form which has existed in Kerala for
hundreds of years. it
depicts emotions in ways which are universally understood.
Mohiniyattom falls within the soft, graceful traditions of lasya
- the expression of the cosmic feminine creativity. Mohiniyattam
flourished in the court of King Swathi Thirunal who ruled
Travancore in the 18th century. The post swathy period witnessed
the downfall of Mohiniyattam. Mahakavi Vallathol rescued
Mohiniyattam from total extinction and added to the carriculam
Thullal evolved as part of social reformation. Social
satire at its best is seen in the Thullal performances where a
large dose of humour keeps the audience in a constant state of
is a solo dance-drama created 200 years ago by Kunjan Nambiar.
The basic element of Thullal is satire, through which Nambiar
set about correcting the evils that prevailed in the society.