MUSIC & DANCE OF KERALA
Listen To : Panchaari Melam, Panchvadyam
The Dance Proforma : Kathakali, Mohiniattam, Koodiyattam
Famous Institutions : Sopanam Shri. Kavalam Narayana Panikkar's institution
Best Time To Visit : During Temple Festivals (April-May)
Koodiyattam Dance - Kerala
Walk along the leaf-shaped sliver of land that resonates with the rhythm of nature. Listen to the melodies generated by the shimmering backwaters and how ubiquitous coconut leaves drum the soft breeze that gush through their hearts. This is the magic of Kerala, where music traces its spine to every facet of nature, where the holy name of God echoes in every octave of harmony. It is in the art and architecture of Kerala, in her music and words, in her dance and dreams that the ebullient legacy of her past comes to a cool.
As one travels to the south, it is not surprising to
savour a different taste of music, anche se, it still evolves from those
seven strands of melody. If you are on a Dravidian temple tour, don't miss
the opportunity to hear 'Panchaari Melam', a traditional percussion
ensemble performed inside the sanctorum, widely presented during festivals
and other religious occasions. One can visit Sri Edakkunni Bhagavathy
temple in Ollur, during the Temple Festival and blend with the most famous
'Panchaari Melam' performance in Kerala. Another exquisite melody refers
to the 'Panchvadyam' (Panch in Sanskrit means five), a breath-taking
percussion performance using only five instruments that pulsates with
every count of second, ultimately escalating the joy of merryment to a
much higher level. The sweet sound of music carries the 'taal' (rhythm) of
Timila, Shudha Madhalam, Kombu (trumphet), Edakka (drum) & Elathalam
(cymbal) and embraces directly the heart of the listener. Spare some time
to visit the Thiruvambadi Temple, during the 'Thrissur Pooram', also known
as "Madathil Varavu" to experience the magical moments of
There are some spots on the sands of time, where if you step once, cannot help but careen to the sounds of music. And if one is in Kerala, the chances of running into such pads are more. Nothing much will change, as you wait for the performance to begin in the darkened environs of a temple ground or village square, with a leaflet conjuring every detail of today's agenda. Gently, expections will swell up with every move as your eyes will skate through every curve of the dancer's body. Gods and goddess, mortals and demons, plants and animals meet in a radiant matrix of art, filled with philosophic truth - unity of all creation - enunciated by the great teacher Adi Shankara. At such moments Kerala's past, present and future dissolve into oblivion and only the experience remains, as lucid in its beauty as a drop of water on the edge of a lotus leaf.
Kathakali Dance - Kerala
Red, green, white and flashes of gold, are the true colours of a Kathakali dancer. Philosophically, they reflect the colours of nature; the green of the land specked with the white of herons, the golden sands of the river beds, the black of the tropical night and the oozing red of the horizon. Kathakali is a group presentation, in which dancers perform various roles traditionally based on themes from the Hindu mythology, especially the two epics, the 'Ramayana' and the 'Mahabharata'. One of the interesting things about Kathakali is that, only men can perform the art, which in the other way leads to the enactment of female roles on stage. See how the dancers leap through the air with their knees half-bent, dolled up in huge drooping skirts and magnificent hairdresses. Since the body movements and footwork are very rigourous, to attain a higher degree of proficiency and muscle control, a Kathakali dancer undergoes a strenuous course of training and special periods of body massage, right from the childhood.
Mohiniattam is about the soft and subtle. It's about lyricism and 'lasya' (moods), about Kerala's gift to nature. It's about "Mohini" (beautiful woman ) and "attam" (dance ). This classical dance - known for its graceful and sensuous form - adorns an exquisite feminine style with undulating flow of body movements, that leaves a viewer mesmerised. Musical instruments such as the violin, 'veena' and 'mridangam' chaperon the Mohiniattam dancer, who describes episodes from the epics and legends through virtuous steps, rhythmic movements of her arms and amorous facial expressions.
Recently UNESCO has brought to light, the oldest performing art in Kerala - Koodiyattam - and eulogized it as one among the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity". It is for the first time in the history of UNESCO, that specific art forms across the world have been given this recognition as a part of its effort to shield oral heritage and traditional culture which are in danger of disappearing due to the globalisation. You will be fascinated to see how the artists give expressions to the deepest of human emotions - anger, frustration, happiness, melancholy - as you become one with the characters, the true gift of a performing artist.
Visit the northern hamlets of Malabar, to experience a newer melody of life, Theyyam, the foremost folklore ritual art of this southern state. The beauty of Theyyam is that, it is more about the participation of beholder than the actual performance. Colours, particularly red, fly by the strings of music as the dancer spins on the axis of this creation. The word 'Theyyam' refers to both the performance and the performer, who is said to attain supernatural powers during the concert. If you get an opportunity, don't miss the 'Theechamundi', in which the dancer performs wearing tender coconut leaves. The style with which he jumps into a huge bonfire is an experience which cannot be framed into words.
Top 5 Highlights of Music & Dance
The Land of Dravidian Art and Culture
Put Your Steps With The Exotic Art Forms
Paint The Music Grey This Holiday
Kathakali - Vibrations of An Epic
Mohiniattam - Let A Mohini Entertain You
South & Beaches