Folk dances ofKeralareflect the temperaments and moods of the native people. Kerala has a rich variety of folk dances. There are around fifty popular folk dances in the state. Religious influence is explicitly visible in the dances which are during harvests, sowing of seeds, festivals etc. Most of the folk dances of Kerala are performed accompanied by songs which are sung by the dancers themselves or occasionally by a group of musicians. The costumes and ornaments of these folk dances differ with places. Almost all of these folk dances are simple but beneath this simplicity there is a profundity of conception and a directness of expression which are of a high artistic order. Out of the many, most prominent ones as given below:
Types of Folk Dances
Dappu Kali: This dance is named as Dappu Kali because `dappu`, a kind of musical instrument is used in the dance. It is a group-dance of the Moplahs of Malabar.
Sarpam Thullal: Many ancient families in Kerala have Kavus, which are the special snake shrines, whom they worship regularly, on various occasions.
Kaavadiyattom: This dance is mainly performed as an offering in temples of Lord Subrahmaniam. For performance, a number of dancers gather in temple, dressed in yellow or rose colour costumes. Their body is smeared with lines of ashes and each candidate has an ornate kaavadi on the shoulder. They stand in a row and dance with the rhythmic beatings of instruments like udukku, and chenda and even nagaswaram.
Bhadrakali Thullal: This is a devotional offering of Pulayas and this is the only community who performs this ritual, for Bhadrakali.
Vela Kali: This is a martial dance of the Nair community in Kerala. Vela Kali is famous in their respected region. This illuminates ancient warfare in Kerala in all its tradition and valour. The dancers are all dressed in colourful costumes and arming with shining swords and shields, they dance with vigour and coordination.
Thiyyattu Dance: Thiyyattu is a devotional offering performed only in the Bhadrakali temples. The performers are known as Thiyyattunnis. The theme behind its performance is usually the killing of Darika by Bhadrakali.
Kolam Thullal: This is a ritual offering performed by village people, usually to get rid of the troubles and pains due to evil-spirits.
Thumpi Thullal: This is a dance in which only women can participate and it is usually performed in connection with the Onam festival. All the girls are dressed in a special type of dress known as Onakkodi dress and dance in a circle.
Kummi Dance: It is performed by women only and is very famous in different parts of Kerala. The dancers move in a circular direction and the hand gestures denote reaping and harvesting processes. One of the women from a group leads with a favourite song while the rest of the group repeats it afterwards. Each performer renders a new line as their turn comes and the dance stops when all members get tired or bored.
Kaduva Kali: This dance is also known as Pulikali. Dancers get ready dressed up as tigers along with appropriate costumes and make-up. They dance vigorously along with the loud beating of instruments like Udukku, Thakal.
Kanniyar Kali: It is being performed since centuries and is sometimes called as Desathukali. It is a fast moving, militant dance having pleasant rhythmic devotional folk songs. It is said to be a ritual offering in honour of the deity Bhagavathy.
Thirayattom: It is a ceremonial dance, which is performed as a vital part of festive celebrations in Kavus, in the Central Malabar region.
Kummatti Dance: It is a mask dance mostly popular in South Malabar region of Kerala. The dancers wear brightly painted wooden masks on the faces while dancing.
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