Kerala’s culture has been derived from Tamilkam, which is of Dravidian origin. Through the years the culture of this region has evolved from the influence of cultures overseas. However, the dominant native art forms include Koothu which is similar to stand up comedy, Kathakali which is a story acted out as a play, Mohiniaattam a dance form, Theyyam, Padayani, Thullal and Koodiyattam.
It doesn’t end there! Art forms which have a tribal or religious theme also form a part of Kerala’s culture. The Malabar region gave birth the art forms of Oppana, Nandakom and Chavittu that are a combination of rhythmic clapping, dance and song. Even though these art forms are not very popular among Keralites, these are often performed in youth festivals or are performed for tourists. Kerala has not be far left behind in the movie industry, which is a staple that entertains Keralites. The film industry is referred to as Mollywood, the home of the renowned Adoor Gopalakrishnan whose name resonates in film circles across the world, for his outstanding films.
There is a plethora of ritualized ancient arts, which originated here that are still kept alive. Kalaripayattu, when translated means practice or exercise to prepare for the battlefield. This art form is one among the oldest martial arts in the world. Parasurama is said to have started this oral tradition, which is practiced even today.
Other ritualized art forms include Kuthiyottam, Poorakkali and Theyyam. Kuthiyottam is a symbolic representation of human sacrifice or bali. Exponents in Folklore say that this art form, which has set songs and choreography, is a rare Adi Dravida tradition. This art form still sees the light of day in Central Kerala, which gives audiences the true essence of the cultural heritage and traditions of Kerala. The songs and folk dances of Adi Dravida, is composed of quick formations and movements that peak at a point and then ends abruptly. The songs begin in a slow pace, steadily gains momentum and end even before you know it.
Fine arts in Kerala is a true amalgamation of the cultural heritage of the ancient times and modernity. Another aspect which must be noted is that, these traditions are still kept alive here. They are not only a true reflection of tradition, but rather a way of life. It is quite clear that these art forms have evolved over the centuries to suite the tastes of people, yet preserving its essence. If you really want to experience the best that Kerala has to offer you, make sure to witness these performances.
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