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Cultural Appeal and Performing Arts:
The cultural dimension of Kerala is as vast as the variety found in its geographical demographics. Known for an assortment of festivals, the approach of celebrating these festivals and happiness, results in a selection of cultural appeal varying from dances to other music and art forms. The additional highlights would be snake boat race conducted yearly, and the traditionally practiced martial art forms.

Popular cultural highlights:

Kathakali: This 500 year ancient spectacular dance form assimilates dance, music , poetry and dramatics harmoniously. Based on guidelines set by Sage Bharatha’s Natya shastra, this unique art form combines the powerful energetic moves of ‘Thandava’ and the gentle graceful ‘Lasya’. The costume and makeup used for performing this art form is also a highlighted feature.

Koodiyattam: Instead of single Chakiyar a number of performers get together and stage dance-drama. That is why it is called Koodiyattom, literally "dancing together" (The beginnings of Kerala dramaturgy can be traced to this dance). Both men and women partake in this performance. Abhinaya is the most important element in Koodiyattom. The texts are always in Sanskrit and the performance is a prolonged affair. It may take anything from a few days to a number of weeks. 

All the four types of abhinaya, viz. Angikam, Vachikam, Sathvikam and Aharyam are fully utilized in Koodiyattom. 

The plays are performed only in temple precincts as votive offerings. Abhinaya or acting is a three -fold or even four-fold process. Appropriate hand gestures are symbols are first shown when the words of the verse are spoken in a typically modulated tone. As the music is begun, the meaning of the words are translated into a language of bodily postures, attitudes and facial expressions. The third is a repetition of the first.

Koodiyattom is staged on the specially built temple theatre called Koothambalam. The stage is decorated with fruit-bearing plantains and bunches of tender coconuts and festooned with fronds of the coconut palm. A vessel overflowing with paddy is placed on the stage. Lighting is done with a tall oil lamp made of brass. Within a railed enclosure on the stage is a large copper drum called mizhavu with a high seat for the Nambiyar drummer. A Nangiyar women plays cymbal and occasionally recites the verses. The musical element is very much suppressed in Koodiyattom. At times special orchestral effects are introduced. The orchestra consists of an edakka, maddalam, a conch, pipe and horn.

There is facial make-up using colour schemes and pattern having symbolic value, though strict standardization of types is absent. The make-up patterns as seen in the better-known Kathakali are borrowed from Koodiyattom.

Mohiniyattam: Mohini the temptress, is a recurring character in Hindhu mythology. Attom means dance. It is seductive dance performed by women, sensuous in its appeal. In technique Mohiniyattom lies somewhere between Kathakali and Bharathanatyam, Lyrical in the extreme keynote is coquetry. The symmetrical patterns of emotion flow in balanced nuances with smooth footwork, somewhat quickened body movements and special music. 

Parallel to the Barathanatyam of Tamil Nadu., solo Mohiniyattom dance is performed only by women. The music is classical carnatic.

As the name implies it is the dance of the charmer. Its origin is a matter of conjecture, but it retains a lovely fusion of the parallel streams of dance in the estern and western regions of South India. Combining the formal grace and elegance of Bharathanatyam, with the earthy vigour and dynamism of Kathakali the petalled nrita hands of the one with the wide stance of the other, the delicate expressions of the one with the stylised eye movements of the other, it co- ordinates the instinct with charm, subtle allure and seductive appeal. In the rendering of this style there is enchantment, grace delicacy and passion. 

The technical structure of Mohiniyattom is fairly similar to that of Bharathanatyam. There are no abrupt jerks or leaps in Mohiniyattom nor is their any inordinately hard stamping of the foot. The gesture language of Mohiniyattom is largely similar to that of Bharathanatyam but it also incorporates elements from Kathakali tradition. And again, like Bharathanatyam, Mohiniyattom too has items of nritta, pure dance, as well as nritya, expressional dance. 

Mohiniyattom is mainly the Lasya dance performed strictly according to scriptures of Natya Shastra. The repertory of Mohiniyattom as it is presented now consists of Cholkettu, Varnam, Padam, Thillana, Kaikottikkali, Kummi and Swaram. It is well evident that the Kaikottikkali and Kummi are later additions. Because of the special type of instructions associated with it, the dance presence striking bodily poses and attitudes and exquisitely graceful foot - work. In its gestures and also with regard to the expression of the eye, Mohiniyattom is indebted to Kathakali.

If in Bharathanatyam the predominant moods are samtham and veeram, in Mohiniyattom it is sringaram. 

Thiruvathirakalli: Thiruvathirakali, also known as Kaikottikkali, is a very popular group dance of Kerala. Thiruvathirakali is performed by the women of Hindu community, often during festive seasons like Onam and the Thiruvathira day in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December- January). Performed by maids in order to attain everlasting marital bliss, Thiruvathirakali is a simple and gentle dance with the lasya element or the amorous charm predominating. The dance is performed around a nilavilakku (a ceremonial lamp) or a floral decoration especially during Onam. The dancers move in a circular pattern, accompanied by rhythmic clapping of the hands, to the tune of the Thiruvathira pattu. One of the performers sings the first line of the Thiruvathira pattu (song) while the rest repeat it in chorus. The songs are often narrations from the folk epics. . Today, Thiruvathirakali has become a popular dance form for all seasons and also a popular stage item.

Pulikali: Pulikali is a colorful recreational folk art from the state of Kerala. It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam.

Pulikali, also known as Kaduvaakali, is a 200 year old art, carefully preserved by the artists of the state. Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigers' hence the performance revolve around the theme of tiger hunting. The folk art is mainly practiced in Thrissur (Trichur) and Palghat districts of Kerala. Best place to watch the show is Swaraj Ground at Thrissur on the fourth day of Onam, where Pulikali troupes from all over the district assemble to display their skills.

Kalaripayatu: The Orient's treasure trove, a gift to the modern world and the mother of all martial arts. Legend traces the 3000-year-old art form to Sage Parasurama- the master of all martial art forms and credited to be the re-claimer of Kerala from the Arabian Sea. Kalaripayattu originated in ancient South India. Kung- fu, popularized by the monks of the Shoaling Temple traces its ancestry to Bodhi Dharma - an Indian Buddhist monk and Kalaripayattu master.

Crafted in ancient South India drawing inspiration from the raw power and sinuous strength of the majestic animal forms - Lion, Tiger, Elephant, Wild Boar, Snake, and Crocodile ........ Kalaripayattu laid down the combat code of the Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas. Shrouded in deep mystery and mists of secrecy Kalaripayattu was taught by the masters in total isolation, away from prying eyes.

Following the collapse of the princely states and the advent of free India - Kalaripayattu has lost its significance as a mortal combat code. In a Phoenix-like resurrection, Kalaripayattu is today emerging in a new avatar - an ancient art form - a source of inspiration for self-expression in dance forms - both traditional and contemporary, in theatre, in fitness and in movies too.


Nehru Trophy Boat Race (Second week, AUGUST): The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is an annual event which is organized on the second Saturday of August each year at the Punnamada Lake in Alappuzha, Kerala.This year's Nehru Trophy Boat Race will be held on Saturday, August 13 th. 

The major attraction of the boat race is the competition of chundanvallams or snake boats,measuring over 100 feet in length, with a raised prow.The first Race took place in 1952 when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru flagged off the event and distributed the prizes.The Race has been named after him ever since and over the years,has acquired fame across the globe.

 All arrangements have been completed for this year's mega water carnival.57 boats will compete in this water olympics.For the first time in the history of the Nehru Trophy Boat Race,a Royal Ticket of Rs.1 Lakh has been introduced.

Thrissur Pooram (MAY): The Thrissur Pooram is one of the most spectacular festivals in the world. In terms of visual splendour, the grand assembly of caparisoned elephants, amazing pyrotechnic displays, spellbinding ensembles of percussion instruments and enthusiastic crowds, there is no match for it. One can’t find a festive gathering and celebration on such a scale anywhere else.

Thrissur is a city situated in the centre of Kerala state, India. It has a population of around 3.2 lakhs. It is an important cultural centre, and is known as the “cultural capital” of Kerala. It has a large number of well-known temples like Thiruvambadi temple, Vadakkunnathan temple and Paramekkavu temple, and two churches of note, the Our Lady of Lourdes Metropolitan Cathedral and the Our Lady of Dolors “New Church” Basilica (the biggest in South Asia.)

The name Thrissur is derived from “Thiru-Shiva-Perur’, which literally translates to “The city of the Sacred Siva:. In ancient days, Thrissur was known as Vrishabhadripuram as well as Kailasam (Mount Kailas, the abode of Lord Siva in South).

From very early times Thrissur has been a centre of learning. With the decline of Buddhism and Jainism due to the growing supremacy of Brahminism and the revival of Hinduism, Thrissur became an important centre of Sanskrit learning. It is believed that the great Hindu Saint, Adi Shankara, was born in answer to the prayer made by his mother at Vadakkunnathan temple. Sankara’s disciples Hastamalaka, Thotaka, Padmapada and Sudhachara established four Madhoms (mutts) in the city, namely the Northern Madhom, the Middle Madhom, the In – Between Madhom and the Southern Madhom respectively.

 
 
 
Kathakali
Koodiyattam
 
Mohiniyattam
 
Thiruvathirakalli
 
Pulikali
 
Kalaripayatu
 
Nehru Trophy Boat Race
 
Thrissur Pooram
Thrissur Pooram
 
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