<< Kerala Art Forms

Kalampattu (kalamezhuthu pattu) is a folk ritual art form that belongs to the northern regions of Kerala especially Malappuram. This art form, which is over 600 years old is believed to have originated from the Bhadrakali temple at Angadipuram in Malappuram district.It is performed by a group of five to fifteen people in bhadrakali and ayyappa temples. The ritual is performed around the kolam - an elaborate picture, usually of these two deities, drawn on the floor, using five colours. The performance in the light of temple torches lasts through the night. The singers are neatly dressed with women wearing their hair on the side of the head. A series of songs (kalampattu) are sung to the accompaniment of nanthuni and elathalam.

Kalampattu hymns are sung in praise of the Goddess, describing her from head to foot and foot to head, kesaadi paadam and paadaadi kesham. The lamp is placed and lit under the sacred peepul tree, outside the temple compound, where the goddess is said to reside. Virgin maidens accompany the lamp carrying brass trays ceremoniously called Taalapoli into the temple. Symbolically the light represents the spirit of the Goddess, and is placed at the feet of the figure of Bhadrakali. With this the Kalampaattu ritual ends, and the place is considered consecrated. The spirit of the goddess is invoked to remain on the sacred spot throughout the performance of the Mudiyettu.

Ritual art

Mudiyettu is yet another ritualistic dance-drama or folk art form presented in bhadrakaali temples in south and central Kerala, in and around Malappuram. In the south, this is presented by a community called Marars and Kurups. It is also based on the Puranic story of Darikavadham, the killing of the demon Darika by the goddess but is a slightly modified version.

All the early performing arts like the Mudiyettu, Theeyaattam, Tirayaattam, Teyyam, and Patayani were ritualistic offerings to the pinities. They are performed by ambalavaasis, people who served in the temple. In Mudiyettu the special participants were the Maarars and Kurups. Generally it is performed between the months of Vrischikam and Meenam (November-March). The characters are all heavily made-up and in gorgeous costumes, intricate and elaborate, with conventional facial paintings and tall head gears, face masks, etc.They are also dressed up in exotic fashion with a unique weirdness to lend a touch of the supernatural element. The whole effect they cause is colourful, imposing and awe-inspiring.

This spectacular ritual art is presented after dusk, beneath a pandal with four supporting pillars.The curtain is held by helpers in a similar fashion as in Kathakali and removed when needed. The rich heritage of dance, decoration and music emerges in every festival and every ritual, and the trance dancers are the eternal link between god and man.

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