Poothamkali (pootham) is a folk art more commonly performed in the Bhagavathy temples of Malappuram. Pootham is the character who accompanied Durga in her combat with Darika asura. The performers, usually three in number, undergo a week of austerity before the presentation. Colourful and intricately designed masks carved out of the pala and murukku trees are the highlights of the attire. The fifteen minute performance starts slowly and works up to a frenzy towards the end. The thudi provides rhythm to the dance which is usually rendered at night. Poothamkali is performed, especially by the dancers belonging to the Mannan community. The Mannans are basically washer men, but they do also practice indigenous medicine. The dancers wear a right fitting sash and tie jingle bells (ghungroo) on their ankles.
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