Kerala Culture

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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 venue 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 culture.
Kerala's culture is distinct and unique and that has made it popular to tourists from around the world.
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 Kerala.

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.
In 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. 


Folk arts
Theyyam,Thira,Mudiyettu, Kaduvakali, Velakali, Kakkarissinatakam, Chavittunadakam, Margamkali, Kolkali, Parichamuttukali, Bhadrakalipattu, Pulluvanpattu and Thiruvathirakali are a few of Kerala's folk art forms.

Martial arts
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 Kalaripayattu.


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 of Kalamandalam.

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 merriment.Thullal 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.


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