Velakali is a ritual art (dance) of Kerala a small state in south India, mainly performed at temples in the festival time.
The performers, clad in the traditional clothes and colourful headgear of the medieval Nair soldiers, engage in vigorous movements and dexterous sword play, to the accompaniment of an orchestra comprising the maddalam, ilathalam, kombu and kuzhal. Velakali originated in AmbAlapuzha where Mathoor Panicker, chief of the Chempakasserri army, promoted it to boost the martial spirit of the people. The dance form is a regular feature of the annual festivities at the AmbAlapuzha Sri Krishna temple in Alapuzha district.
Extreme dedication and continuous practice are essential for this form of art.
Many of the traditional performing art forms of Kerala like, Kathakali, Kolkali, Velakali, Thacholikali etc have drawn elements from Kalarippayattu during their stages of evolution. Kathakali has borrowed much from Kalarippayattu in its basic body preparative training of the actor not only in terms of technique in practice but also from the body massage for the trainee. Many of the body postures, choreography and foot work of the Velakali characters are taken directly from Kalarippayattu.
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