Popular Art forms


Many art forms have originated in India. Mentioned here are some of the popular art forms from the southern states of India.


 Mohiniyattam is a semi-classical dance form of Kerala performed by women. The word Mohini means dance of enchantress.. The movements are graceful and the costumes are sober and attractive.  Mohiniyattam involves delicate footsteps and subtle expressions. The movements are graceful and the costumes are sober and attractive.
The basic dance steps of Mohiniattam are the Adavus - Taganam, Jaganam, Dhaganam and Sammisram. Mohiniattam maintains a realistic makeup and simple dressing.  Mohiniyattam is the gracefully elegant classical dance from with lasya as the predominant element. The dancer is dressed in white and gold. The hair is gathered and put up at the side of the head and adorned with jasmine, in the traditional style. It resembles the undulating movements of the paddy fields or coconut palm leaves.


Bharathanatyam is one of the oldest forms of dance from Tamilnadu. This form of dance is based on the ancient text on dance. Bharatha stands for Bhava(mood), Raga(music), and Tala(rhythm), while Natyam stands for Nritta. Movement, mime and music are given equal importance in Bharathanatyam. A Bharathanatyam performance is rendered by a solo artist, or a duo, or as a group. Bharathanatyam is poetry in motion. According to the Natya Shastra by Sage Bharatha, Nritta, Nrithya and Natya are the three aspects of dance. Nritta means pure and simple dance. This involves movements of the body and limbs, for a decorative effect, without conveying any meaning. Nrithya lays emphasis of expressions, to convey the meaning of the rendering. Nrithya involves facial expressions, gestures and symbolic poses. Natya includes drama through the use of spoken word, apart from Nritta and Nrithya.


Kuchipudi is the classical dance form from the South-East Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is known for its graceful movements and its strong narrative / dramatic character.   The Kuchipudi is a dance-drama of Nritta, Nritya and Natya.. . Kuchipudi costumes look similar to Bharathanatyam costumes. Elegant foot work is an important aspect of Kuchipudi. Some special performances include those of dancing on brass plates and moving the plate with the feet to the tune of accompanying music.   The Indian dance is one of the oldest art that has been through a steady development for nearly two thousand years. The Indian classical dance has its origin in the temples where it was used to illustrate the Hindu mythologies.

Kutiyattam is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala, India. Performed in the Sanskrit language in Hindu temples, it is believed to be 2000 years old. It is officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.Koodiyattam [kutiyattam], meaning "combined acting," signifies Sanskrit drama presented in the traditional style in temple theatres of Kerala and is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre. It has an attested history of a thousand years in Kerala, but its origin and evolution are shrouded in mystery. It seems that Kutiyattam is an amalgam of the classical Sanskrit theatre of ancient India and the regional theatre of Kerala.


 It is a temple art form. Ottam Thullal is a kind of solo-dance in which one actor adorning colourful costumes recites dance songs to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. The origin of Ottam Thullal is traced to an unhappy incident alleged to have taken place in the Natakasala of the Krishna temple, Ambalapuzha, towards the end of the 18th century. The story is that Kunjan Nambiar who was beating the mizhavu during a Koothu performance produced a wrong note and that he was rebuked by the Chakiar in the presence of the audience


Theyyam is a popular Hindu ritual of worship in North Kerala state, India, predominant in the north Kerala (Kannur and Kasargod districts). As a living cult with several thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs, it embraces almost all the castes and classes of the Hindu religion in this region. The performers of Theyyam belong to the indigenous tribal community, and have an important position in Theyyam. This is unique, since only in Kerala, do both the upper-caste Brahmins and lower-caste tribals share an important position in a major form of worship. The term Theyyam is a corrupt form of Devamor God. People of these districts consider Theyyam itself as a God and they seek blessings from this Theyyam.


 Pulikkali is a colorful recreational folk art form of Kerala. It is performed by trained artists to entertain people on the occasion of Onam, an annual harvest festival, celebrated mainly in the Indian state of Kerala. On the fourth day of Onam celebrations (Nalaam Onam), performers painted like tigers and hunters in bright yellow, red, and black dance to the beats of instruments like Udukku and Thakil. Literal meaning of Pulikali is the 'play of the tigers' hence the performance revolves around the theme of tiger hunting. The folk art is mainly practiced in Thrissur district of Kerala.


Kummatti Kali is the famous colorful mask-dance of Kerala. During the festival of Onam, Kummattikali performers move from house to house collecting small gifts and entertaining people. Kummatti dances are rampant in the Thrissur district during Onam. The costumes are a most interesting facet of Kummattikali. The dancers don a heavily painted colourful wooden mask depicting faces of Krishna, Narada, Kiratha, Darika, or hunters. 'Thamma' (an old woman) walks in front with the help of a stick. Thamma is symbolic of mother of every being.


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 colorful 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 Ambalappuzha where Mathoor Panicker, chief of the Chempakasserri army, promoted it to boost the martial spirit of the people.

Kalaripayattu (kerala martial art)

Kalarippayattu is a martial art from Kerala in south India. Possibly one of the oldest fighting systems in existence, it is still practiced extensively in Kerala. Kalari means the place of performance and the payattu means the performance of this martial art. It includes strikes, kicks, grappling, preset forms, weaponry and healing methods. Regional variants are classified according to geographical position in Kerala; these are the northern style, the southern style and the central style. Northern kalaripayat is based on the principle of hard technique, while the southern style primarily follows the soft techniques, even though both systems make use of internal and external concepts.

   kathakaliartist.com 2016