This art form, the precursor of Kathakali, is rarely staged outside the temple town of Guruvayur. The only troupe that performs Krishnanattom is the Guruvayur Kshetra Kalanilayam
In Krishnanattom, the tale of Lord Krishna is told over eight days. The episodes are `Avataram', `Kaliyamardanam', `Rasakreeda', `Kamsa Vadhom', `Swayamvaram', `Banayudham', `Vividavadhom' and `Swargarohanam'. The `Avatharam' episode is repeated on the ninth day. Krishnanattom is based on the 17th-century Sanskrit work, `Krishnageethi', written by the Zamorin, Manaveda. The art form used to be performed, by royal decree, only at areas that came under the Zamorin's rule... Krishnanattom was first staged at the Thiruvambadi temple in 1962. According to the manager of the temple, C. Hari, the nine-day performance by the 36-member troupe would cost Rs.72,000. Devotees have sponsored the performances for six days.
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 certain characters The characters who do not wear masks have specific facial colours applied within the frame of a white chutti. The predominant colours used are dark green, flesh tint and deep rose. Most of the characters wear red vests and flowing 'Uthariyams'. The characters of Krishna, Arjuna and Garuda wear dark blue vests.