Thursday, November 28, 2013

'Murajapam' At Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple

Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple of Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala became world famous recently when large quantity of centuries old  precious stones and jewellery belonging to the deity was found in the vaults of the temple.
This temple dedicated to Lord Maha  Vishnu is one among the 108 sacred Vishnu temples of India(Divya Desams).It is mentioned in ancient texts like 'Puranas' and in the epic 'Mahabharata' also.Just before the Kurukshetra war between Kauravas and Pandavas,  Balabhadra who was the brother of Lord Sree Krishna went on a pilgrimage.He visited several sacred places and temples of India and one among was 'Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple at Thiruvananthapuram.
The idol of this temple is in reclining position and can be viewed through three doors.Head and shoulders from the first  door,middle part from the second door and legs and feet from the third door.
The idol was made up of 12,008 salagramas put together with the help of  'Kadu sarkaraYogam' which is a mixture of certain herbal items.The salagramas are  typical sacred stones found in the 'Gandaki' river of Nepal.The salagramas for the idol were brought on elephants to Kerala from Nepal.
There is a saying that if there are 6 salagramas it is a Kshetra. (Temple) , if 12 salagramas are kept it is a 'Maha Khetra'.(Temple on a large scale or more divine, sacred and powerful) and since 12008 salagramas are used for this temple, the sacredness divinity  and  power is beyond our thoughts.
'Murajapam' is a centuries old ritual held at Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.It is held every six years and being held here from  1520 AD.From the time of Marthandavarma Maharaja it is held as a grand function.
'Mura' means turn and 'Japam' means reciting 'mantras'.More than 200 Veda Scholars recite the 'Rig Veda,Sama Veda' and Yagur Veda' according to certain age old traditions and rules and they recite it according to some 'turn' and 'sets'.The vedic mantras are chanted in seven turns and each turn consists of eight days.Thus it will be finished in 56 days.
Murajapam is conducted once in every six years and lastly it was conducted in 2008.This year is 'Murajapam'  Year and the ritual has already started on November 20, 2013.About 200 Vedic Scholars belonging to various mutts and ancient thantric families have already arrived and are being participating in the function every day.The 56 day long event which involves several thantric customs and for which  various materials in large quantities are used,   was commenced on 20 November.Devotees in large numbers throng everyday at the temple these days to see and participate in the auspicious function which is held once in six years.
 This ritualistic grand function will cease on January 14, 2014 with 'Laksha Deepam.'(Laksha Deepam is Celebration by which 100,000 oil lamps are lighted).The lighting of 100,000 oil lamps in and around the temple premises along with illumination of colour bulbs  on that day will make the temple a spectacular sight.The deity will be adorned with special ornaments on this occasion.Altogether for the devotees it would be a wonderful vision of joy to see the temple immersed in myriads of lights and  luminescence.There will be huge gathering of devotees on January 14, the Makara Samkranti day when Lakshadeepam are lighted and a procession of the three main deities of the temple,Padmanabha Swamy,Narasimha Swamy and Sree Krishnaswamy are taken out  on decorated 'Garuda Vahanams' around the temple.
During the Murajapam days the priests participating in the function starts

 chanting of the mantras and Vedas  at 6.30 A.M.
There will be 'Vishnu Sahasranama Chanting' every day from 4.30P.M to 6.30P.M in which any devotee can take part.
'Murajapam' is a centuries old tradition of India and in the Puranas there are mentions about this ritual. 'Kartha Veeryarjuna' who was an ancient Indian King propitiated Gods by performing 'Murajapam' as according to instructions from sage 'Atri' and got boons as of which he received   mighty 1000 arms for him  and prosperity for his Kingdom and subjects.
By performing 'Murajapam' at Padmanabhaswamy Temple, we are chanting mantras and his beautiful,lovely and sweet names by obliging the traditional rules and custom meant for it.We pray humbly for his mercy and blessings. It is believed that people irrespective of any cast, creed or community will get blessings from the Lord Maha Vishnu. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Krishnanattam Offering At Guruvayoor Temple

The classical art form 'Krishnanattam' is staged at Guruvayoor Temple on almost all days round the year as votive offering by the devotees for propitiating the Lord Krishna and getting his blessing to fulfill their wishes.
Krishnanattam  was   designed and created by the 'Zamorin' ruler of Calicut 'Manaveda' (1585-1658 A.D.).
The Zamorin was a firm believer of Lord Krishna and used to visit Guruvayoor temple occasionally, stayed there for many days to participate in all the 'Pooja rituals' daily.His contemporary 'Vilwamangalam Swamikal' who was a sage who omitted all worldly pleasures also used to stay for many days consecutively at Guruvayoor and participated in all the poojas.Vilwamangalam Swamikal had special bessing of the God that he was able to see them.Krishna, in childhood form used to play with him.This was known to Manaveda Zamorin and he revealed his ambition to have a vision of Lord Krishna to Vilwamangalam Swamikal.Thus Vilwamangalam Swamikal pleaded to Bhagawan Krishna about the Zamorin's wish.Krishna agreed to fulfil the devotee's ambition and said that the next day he could watch Krishna in childhood form playing on the platform of an 'Elanji tree' near the temple but he was told not to touch Krishna.
The next day Zamorin's wish was fulfilled and since he was a firm devotee of Lord Krishna who loved him so much in his heart, the Zamorin could not control his excitement and love that he grasped Lord Krishna and embraced him.Krishna said that 'this was not in Vilwamangalm's agreement' and suddenly disappeared.One of the peacock feather which adorned Krishna's headgear dropped on the ground and it was taken by the Zamorin.
Later Zamorin repented  about his  breaching of the  agreement of not touching the Lord.
At that period itself poet Jaya Deva's 'Gita Govindam' written about Lord Krishna was famous all over India.Manaveda also decided to write a similar poetic work about the story of Krishna.It was named as 'Krishna Giti' and contains eight parts about the main incidents of the Lord such  as "Avataram,Kaliyamardanam,Rasakrida,Kamsavadham,Swayamvaram,Banayudham,Vividhavadham,and Swargarohanam".
He designed the costumes,selected the percussion instruments and other arrangements to manifest this poetic work as a dance-drama played part by part for eight days.On the ninth day 'Avataram' is repeated again as a tradition.For many years followed, the peacock feather of Lord Krishna's headgear was used on the 'crown' wore by Krishna's character of Krishnanattam.

At Guruvayoor temple devotees can select any story part to play as per their preference or the full story for nine days if they can afford.
Devotees believe that by offering 'Avataram' story,  child will be born to childless couples,
By offering 'Kaliamardanam' play skin problems caused by snake bite and other skin diseases are also cured by the Lord.
'Rasa Krida' is offered for the well being of unmarried girls and for  getting a suitable spouse.Also disputes between married couples will be solved.
'Kamsavadham' is played for removing one's enemies.
'Swayamvaram' story is played to get a suitable marriage alliance.
The story 'Banayudham' is played for any auspicious event and also for getting blessings of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.Success in legal matters is also attained.
'Vividavadham' is played for removing poverty and for success in agriculture.
'Swargarohanam' is played for the peace of a departed soul.Also for salvation and to have a peaceful death.
Those who arrange 'Swargarohanam play' has to offer 'Avatharam' also.
For the rates,rules and regulations and bookings the authorities of 'Guruvayoor Temple Devaswom'

has to be contacted.


Sree Vallabha Swamy temple which is one among the 108 abodes of Lord Vishnu is situated at Thiruvalla Town of Pathanamthitta District in Kerala, just 2 kms from the railway station and KSRTC bus station.
This temple is a highly orthodox Hindu temple dedicated to 'Purusha',an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.The installation of 'Sudarshana Chakra' of Lord Vishnu in this temple dates back to 3000 B.C.
Kathakali is played as devotee's offering at  this temple on almost all days of the year.
'Vilwamangalam Swamikal', a sage who possessed several powers when once visited the temple at early hours could not find the Lord's presence inside the temple.With curiosity he searched for him in the premises and found him among the audience who were watching Kathakali  which was being played on the stage.The Lord was disguised as an young Brahmin but Vilwamangalam Swamikal  recognise him quickly.Suddenly  Lord disappeared in to the temple saying that Vilwamangalam disturbed him  while he was enjoying his favourite art form-Kathakali.
So Kathakali became an important Votive offering in this temple and people makes arrangements to play the story of their choice to fulfil their wishes.
'Duryodhana Vadham' (annihilation of Duryodhana) is played to get rid off the problems caused by enemies.'Santhana Gopalam' story is  arranged to play before the deity by childless couples to get blessing for an offspring.
'Kuchela Vritham' Kathakali is arranged to play by devotees  to remove  their poverty.
'Thokalasura Vadham'  and 'Sree Vallabha Vijayam' are two stories  played to  fulfil all wishes of the devotees.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Kathakali As An Offering To The Deity

There are some temples in Kerala where the classic, prestigious art-form 'Kathakali Dance' is offered as 'Vazhupadu'(offering) to propitiate the deity of the temple and to get blessings.
One such temple where Kathakali dance is offered by  childless couples to get an offspring for themselves is 'Maruthorvattom Sree Dhanwantari temple' at 
Maruthorvattom  of Cherthala in Kerala State.
Dhanwantari Moorthy is believed as the Physician of Celestial beings(Devas) and God of Ayurveda Medicine.The largest number of Dhanwantari temples in India are in Kerala State.Devotees worship him to get cure their prolonged illness and also for enjoying good health.
Dhanwantari Moorthy is believed as the 17th incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu.
                    One of the very famous 'Dhanwantari temple in Kerala is the 'Maruthorvattom Sree Dhanwantari temple situated at Cherthala near Ernakulam..Devotees from far and near visit this temple to get cure diseases and also for his blessings to keep fit in good health.
There are several special offering in this temple which differs from other temples such as 'Thalu curry' which is made from a roadside wild  plant which produces itching of the mouth and throat but when prepared in this temple turns to be a nutritional tasty dish.
There is also 'Attayum Kuzhampum' vazhupadu which is distribution of an ayurvedic oil usually 'Narayana Thailam' for the devotees once in the first week of  Malayalam calander month.It is given to the devotees  after  'pooja' to the deity.Devotees believe that it   cures body pain due to rheumatism. 
The deity bless childless couples to have a child for themselves and many couples surrender to the deity here to fulfil their long awaited wish.After prolonged medical treatment which were in vain,   many sorrowful couples resort at the feet of Dhanwantari God at this temple with their grief and prey for his blessings.
                 There is a 'Vazhipadu' known as 'Thiruvonam Pooja' here.Childless couple has to attend it once in  every month keeping  fasting till mid noon.Then they will be given 'Thrikkai Venna(butter),Plantain fruit,Palpayasam(sweet porridge)
from the temple which has to be eaten with reverence.Attending twelve Pooja consecutively on Thiruvonam Star day every month  is believed to bless the couples with a child.
Couples who are able to afford  offering 'Kathakali' can do so which is only need to  be  fulfilled  after their child is born and that also when the newly born  child attains one year old or more.The Kathakali offered here to get an offspring is 'Santhana Gopalam' story.The  child born as per the offering acts as the 10th child of the main Brahmin character in the Kathakali play.
Retrieval of ten children  of the Brahmin from 'Vaikundam'(abode of Lord Vishnu) by Lord Krishna and Arjuna  is  the 'Santhana Gopalam' story.In this temple the happy couple make arrangements to get played the Kathakali at least after one year after  the child birth.The Kathakali play is enacted in front of the deity at the 'Anakottil'(pandal where elephants are arrayed for festivals) as per the tradition.
The temple authorities are to be consulted to know the exact rituals to be followed in this regard for 'Thiruvonam Pooja' and  also before taking vow for Kathakali play offering.
Some happenings in this Universe are beyond our knowledge and no scientific explanations can be given for them.We can either shun them as superstitions or surrender to  the God and plea for his blessings in such situations. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Popular Dance-Forms in Kerala

The classical art forms 'Koodiyattam,kathakali and Mohiniyattam' originated in Kerala.But all dance forms of India are  trained  and performed in Kerala, out of which dance varieties 'Bharata Natyam  and Kuchipudi Natyam'
got much popularity and large number of students and teachers(Gurus) are found  in that sector.Bharatanatyam dance was originated in Tamil Nadu and Kuchipudi dance  was originated in Andhra Pradesh, but Kerala has adopted this two dance varieties as its own and learning centres are found in every nook and corner of Kerala.
Classical Dance-Drama  'Yaksha Ganam'  is   believed  to be developed by a 'Guru'  ' Parthi Subban'  who belonged to 'Kumbala' of  'Kasergod' Taluk, but
'Yakshaganam' is now considered as a Classical Dance-Drama of 'Karnataka State.


Yaksha Ganam is a classical art form which has close relation to Kathakali and Theyyam in several aspects.Even though it is considered as  a classical Dance-Drama of Karnataka, it is widely popular in northern part of Kerala especially in Kasergod district.Like as in Kathakali, the characters have colourful costumes,heavy make-up and  large headgears.If in Kathakali the  artists have to keep mute, in Yakshaganam they can speak and sing.The female characters are presented by female artists itself in Yaksha Ganam but in Kathakali female part is mostly played by men.The themes of the plays are taken from Ramayana or Mahabharata epics.Mainly Kannada Language is used but stories are written in Tulu language and Malayalam also.So in Kasergod district Malayalam version of Yaksha Ganam is widely played as part of cultural programmes during temple festivals.The percussion instruments such as Chenda,Maddalam,Cymbals,Chengila etc are used for Yaksha Ganam.


Tamil Nadu is the birth place of Bharata Natyam, but as in Tamil Nadu it has gained tremendous popularity in Kerala.People love it  and are fascinated to watch it during temple festivals and when performed as part of some other cultural activities.
Bharata Natyam  was originated at Tanjore by four brothers 'Chinnaiah,Ponnaiah,Vadivelu and Shivanandam'.They designed it as we see it  today as according to Natya Sastra and handed over to the next generation.This dance form consists of dance aspects such as' Alaarippu,Varnam,Padam,Thillana' etc.
The dedicated pupil need to take vigorous and rigorous training for a period of seven years or more to become an efficient Bharata Natyam performer.
Highly learned  Gurus were known as 'Nattuwanars'.Temple dancers known as 'Devadasis' also gave much propaganda for Bharata Natyam by performing it and by teaching other enthusiastic students. As a temple art form it got wide popularity and acceptance.


Kuchipudi is originated in Andhra Pradesh and now it has earned wide popularity in all South Indian States.This dance form was developed in a Village called 'Kuchipudi' and hence the name.It was designed by 'Sidhandra Yogi' based on 'Natya Sastra'.
The Dance technique has greater freedom  and fluidity than other dance types.
The Kuchipudi dance is closely associated with a traditional theatrical dance-drama 'Bhagawata Mela Natakam' in which actors sing and dance in a blend of folk and classical.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


In Kathakali the make-up and costumes have much importance and significance.  It is unique in appearance,style and very attractive.In the light of the oil lamp lighted on the stage and from the light of other sources too, the trinkets and ornaments glitters and shines brightly enhancing the beauty of the characters.
Most of the characters wear headgears made from a particular type of wood.The making of the headgears is painstaking hand carving work by expert craftsmen and such kind of care is taken in the creation of ornaments and costumes also.
The make-up of the artists is also a time consuming art work done by experts.Mostly natural colours are used for make-up.The make up process is known as 'Chutty' and  different types of 'chutty' are  done for different type of characters.The main types of chutty are 'Pacha,Kathy,Thady,Kari,Minukku' etc and there are sub divisions also.
The noble heroic  'Satwik' characters have 'Pacha' style 'chutty' and characters like 'Pandavas,Krishna,Karna,Indra,SriRam etc are given this which has green colour on face.Green colour is changed to saffron for 'Balarama,Lord Shiva,Agni Deva, etc and known as 'Pazhuppu'.
Heroic characters with a slight villainous form  and impudent types (Thamo Guna) are represented by 'Kathy' style and  characters like 'Keechaka,Ravana,Duryodhana' etc falls in this category.
'Thady' category has variations such as 'Chuvanna Thady' , 'Vella Thady' 'Karutha Thady' etc.
Extremely evil, villainous characters like 'Dussasanan' 'Jarasandhan' etc have 'Chuvanna Thadi' (Red beard)make-up.
'Hanuman'  like characters  will be given 'Vella Thady' (White beard) make-up.

'Kali' in Nalacharitha is  given 'Karutha Thady'(Black Beard) make-up.
For 'Chuvanna Thadi' larger head gears are used which help boost their fierce form.
'Minukku' does not have head gears and not much make-up is needed which are employed for Brahmin characters, females,  sages and messenger characters are given this type of make-up.
Rude characters like 'Nishadas' will be given 'Kari' type of 'Chutty' which emphasis black colour and a typical different type of  head gear will be worn.
Most of the characters have a special skirt and the hip part will be set high up using artificial materials which will give a majestic look.
At sunset a percussion concert will be performed with the instruments 'Chenda,Maddalam,Chengila and Ilathalam' to proclaim that there will be 'Kathakali' on that stage on that day.Usually the play used  to start at 9 pm
and continued till dawn.
At around 8'O clock the 'Kalivilakku' (big oil lamp) will be lighted.Afterwards 'Arangukeli' which is a percussion concert will be  held .Then a curtain will be held aloft by two men and a character will dance behind it which is known as' Thodayam' followed by 'Vandana Slokam(prayer) and then  one or two  characters come on stage and dances  in a ritual known as 'Purappad' will be performed.Then there is 'Melappadam' when all the percussion artists will perform to show their skill and talent including the singers.Then only the original play starts.
The performing artists will dance according to the playback songs with appropriate hand gestures and body movements.'Lasya Bhava' dance is rare in Kathakali, but 'Thandava style' is employed mostly.When they dance to the lyrics it is with lesser speed and known as 'Cholliyattam'.After the stanza the performer will express their feelings by dancing vigorously and improvisations can be done for it according to their skill and expertise.This is known as 'Elakiyattam'.Those who are familiar with the hand gestures of 'Natya Sastra' can enjoy Kathakali very well.Now-a-days the upcoming story of the scenes are explained to the audience.
The drum which is known as Chenda has very much importance in Kathakali.

The drummer has to play it precisely well with much expertise producing minute sounds to thunderstorms on it as per the requirements.All the categories of Kathakali including  make-up artists,percussion artists,performing artists,singers etc 
are all having minimum five or six years of vigorous training.From 1970 females can also get trained as Kathakali performing artists.
Now-a-days kathakali is not usually  performed till dawn.Usually one story is played per day at present which will take only four or five hours and in many places the play starts at 7 PM and ends around mid night.Stories from Hindu mythology were traditionally used but recently other type of stories such as 'Magdalana Mariyam' etc  are also tried experimentally.
Some famous Kathakali stories are "Nalacharitham(4Parts-1st Day,2nd day,3rd day,4th day),Duryodhana Vadham,Nizhal Kuthu,Kalyana Sougandhikam,Uthara Swayamvaram,Rukmini Swayamvaram,Nivatha Kavacha Kalakeya Vadham,Thorana Yudham,Bali Vijayam,Bali Vadham,Rugmangada


Charitham,Kiratham,Bana Yudham,Daksha Yagam" etc.There are more than 250 Kathakali plays out of which  50 are played mostly.
Travancore King 'Dharma Rajah" (1758-98) gave much encouragement for the propaganda of Kathakali.
Institutions like 'Mathur Kaliyogam of Alapuzha,Valiakottaram Kaliyogam of Trivandrum,Thakazy Kaliyogam,Kurichi Kathaskali yogam,Keerikkad Thoppil Kathakali yogam,Parassinikadavu Muthappan Kathakali yogam,Kottakal P.S.V.Natya Sangham' etc helped a lot for this art form
Legends like Thottam Sankaran Namboothiri,Guru Kunchukurup,Pattikkamthodi Ravunni Menon,Vechoor Raman Pillai,Mathur Kunjupillai Panicker etc 
and    'Guru Chengannur Raman Pillai,Mangulam Vishnu Nampoothiri,Champakkulam Pachupillai' etc  and later 'Kalamandalam Krishnan Nair, Kalamandalam Ramankutty Nair' etc were glittering stars in this field.
                                  When 'Kalamandalam' was started in 1930 at Shornur it became a prestigious Institute which used to train experts in all aspects of Kathakali art form.Some other main Institutes in Kerala for Kathakali art includes 'P.S.V. Natya Sangham Kottakal,Sadanam Academy Ottappalam,Unnai Varier Kalanilayam Irinjalikkuda,RLV School,Tripunithura,Margi Thiruvanthapuram,Kalabharathi Kollam etc.
There are so many well trained experts in all aspects of Kathakali at present.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It is evident that the most renowned and prestigious art form of Kerala origin is Kathakali.It has earned appreciation from all over India and abroad.
A classical dance-drama known as 'Krishnanattam' was formed by the Manaveda Zamorin of Calicut (1585-1658A.D) based on 'Gita Govinda' written by Poet Jayadeva.Manaveda wrote 'Krishna Giti' based on it and sub divided it in eight parts and designed Krishnanattam in 1654.Krishnanattam earned praise from audience and the ruler of 'Kottarakkara' invited to his Kingdom the troupe of Manaveda to illustrate the new art form to the audience at Kottarakkara.Manaveda Zamorin declined this request by commenting that there would not be any learned audience to understand his classical art form in Kottarakkara Kingdom.'Kottarakkara Thampuran(The Rajah) could not bear that insult and he wrote a story in poetic form from Ramayana and designed suitable costumes,percussion instruments to be used for it,and was portrayed as 'Ramanattam'.While Krishnanattam was in Sanskrit, Ramanattam was in Malayalam which could be easily followed by all sectors in the society  and earned rapid fame.Later others also wrote suitable Kathakali stories and several additions and changes were made to costumes and ornaments used. Finally it became a fantastic classical dance art form as we see today.
In Kathakali, the prime difference which we note is the extra ordinary heavy make up and costume style.The second thing is that it uses anchor playback music and the artists will not speak or sing but enact as according to the song and complimentary percussion.Instruments such as 'Chenda,Ilathalam,Idakka and Sudhamaddalam' are used for Kathakali and the music is unique and appealing.
All the five elements of 'Natya Sastra' are used in Kathakali.Natyam(expression),Nritham(Dance),Nrithyam(Enactment),Geetham(Song),Vadyam(Percussion instruments) are all used in Kathakali.More over the element 'Sahityam'(lyrics) is also well included for this art form.
The players do not get chance to act using their voice and tone control to impress the audience but they have to employ well defined body movements , face expressions and hand gestures to enact the situations.There are nine main face expressions and twenty four main hand gestures which are used commonly for all dance and classical art forms like 'Koodiyattam' and Krishnanattam.They are all used in Kathakali also.The artists will be well trained to express feelings with 9 'Nava Rasa Bhava' like Sringaram,Hasyam,Bhayanakam(fear),Karunam,Roudram(anger),Veeram(valour),Bheephalsam(disgust),Alphutham(wonder) and santham(tranquility).The artists who have inborn qualities and abilities could shine well in Kathakali since there are occasions to show off their skills by their own in Kathakali sections known as 'Ilakiyattam'.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Due to a curse the Devas lost their vigour and vitality and it was understood that by drinking nectar of immortality only  they could  obtain rejuvenation.The Devas had to churn milky ocean to get the elixir with the help of Asuras but the Devas had predetermined not to give a drop of the elixir to Asuras.But when the pot of nectar aroused from the ocean Asuras ran away with it.Lord Mahavishnu had to take the incarnation as Mohini, a temptress- to get back the pot of nectar from the Asuras.Mohini used her charm, elegance , expressions,  gestures etc effectively to mesmerise the Asuras.The dance variety 'Mohiniyattam' is known in her name.
Like Kathakali, Mohiniyattam is a classical Dance variety originated in Kerala.
Mohini means  'Enchantress' and attam means dance.It is a dance variety which has got an enchanting quality.It mesmerises the spectators by the performer's pleasing face expressions(abhinaya or nritya), the pure dance with soft stamping of the foot(nritha),temting eye movements and  altogether these provides an appealing result.In Bharatanatyam if the predominant moods are "Santham and Veeram', in Mohiniyattam it is 'Sringaram'.It gives importance to the 'Lasya Bhava'.
Mohiniyattam originated in Kerala around six hundred years ago.Even though it has resemblance in several aspects to Kathakali and Bharatanatyam, it is a pure  classical dance variety which is unique.It is assumed that Mohiniyattam  is derived from 'Dasiyattam' which was prevailed in Kerala temples and which  was conducted by 'Deva Dasis'.In a book which was published in 14th century titled  'Siva Vilasam' there is narration about the dance expertise of 'Devadasis'.They were having dance and acting as their occupation.Because the Devas were impressed by their dance style and performance, they were  sculptured on the pillars and walls of the Kerala temples.Later on the morality of Devadasis affected  a setback  and they lost their  dignity and status in the society.So when Dasiyattam was converted to Mohiniyattam with an overall change including  costumes  and ornaments also by Maharajah Swathi Thirunal and his friend poet Irayimman Thampi, initially it could not earn enough prestige.
When Kerala Kalamandalam was formed by Vallathol Narayana Menon, Mohiniyattam was also included as an item   there along with Ottan Thullal,Kathakali,Bharatanatyam etc..The famous danseuse Kalamandalam "Chinnammu Amma' who was an instructor at Kalamandalm worked for the revival of this art form.Like that special mention also should be given to 'Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma,Kalamandalam Kshemavathi and Kalamandalam Vimala Menon' who all provided adequate support and contributions for the upheaval of this art form.Danseuse 'Kalamandalam Vimala Menon' wrote a book about Mohiniyattam titled 'Lasya Mohini' which was published on 23 Dec 2012 by Chief Minister of Kerala, Shri.UmmenChandi at  a grand function held at Thiruvananthapuram.

At present Mohiniyattam dance has earned wide popularity and it is taught by several  experts of this dance form  to students  outside the state also.It is evident that this seductive dance variety with its charm,grace and elegance has a bright future.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Padayani is a ritualistic art form performed in Bhadrakali temples of Central Travancore mainly in Pathanamthitta,Alapuzha and Kottayam Districts of Kerala.
It is done as part of annual festival of these temples and mostly celebrated in the months of February to May.(Malayalam months Kumbham,Meenam and Medam).
The legend is that Goddess Bhadrakali after killing the Demon Darika  became very furious and destructive.Because of her immense power nobody was brave enough to go near her to make her calm.Her creator Lord Shiva laid on the way and Kali Devi without noticing him stepped on him.She understood that by mistake she stepped on him and regained  her senses.But yet she was in an angry mood and to make her calm down and happy Lord Shiva with his aides(Bhootha Gana) wore effigies of different characters and danced before her.Goddess Bhadrakali Devi witnessing the painted masks, costumes of areca tree sheaths, and painted headgears became very happy.Since this dance was enjoyed by her,  every year in Bhadrakali temples effigies which are known as 'Kolam' are made and dancers perform with the aid of percussion instrument known as 'Thappu'.Cymbals and Chenda are other musical instruments used.
                           Padayani is very ancient art form originated before Brahmin supremacy and purely a Dravidian cult is followed for it.The songs are traditional handed over to generations which are in simple Malayalam.
Apparitions of Gods,Semi Gods or Demons are made on 'Sheaths of tender arecanut flower bunches' which are off-white in colour.Such sheaths are cut out to required sizes, sewed together and painted with natural colours.Lime,
Carbon,turmeric paste,green paste made of certain leaves,powder of certain
coloured stones etc are used for painting on them.
Different characters have different forms and designs and they are all followed strictly as per the traditional ways, instructed by their  'Guru'.It is believed that the 'deity' of the respected  'effigy' will have the presence at the time of the performance of that 'Kolam' and influences the dancer also.That deity and Bhadra Kali Devi will bless the painters, dancers,devotees who made arrangements for the Kolam,  Villagers and spectators is the belief.So  during the making of the effigies and while performing them everybody pays all kinds of respect and follows the rituals strictly.
There are so many varieties of 'Kolams' like " Pakshi,Yakshi,Maadan,Marutha,
Pisachu,Kuthira Kolam,Kalan Kolam,Bhairavi Kolam,Bhadrakali Kolam,Dhoomavathi,Ambara Yakshi,Arakki Yakshi,Sundara Yakshi" etc etc.
Padayani may be performed for one day or for  several days as per the tradition of the temple concerned.If the festival extends for many days every day 'Kolams' such as 'Pakshi,Yakshi,Maadan,Marutha and Pisachu' are  surely performed which are collectively known as 'Pancha Kolam'.The Villagers seek Bhadrakali's protection and blessing for not to get any harm from them.'Kalan Kolam' and 'Bharavi Kolam' are also performed every day.
                          At the 'Neelamperoor Temple' some special Kolams like 
'Swan' (small and big sizes) are performed and believed that they are remnant of the Budhist cult prevailed in Kerala.
Occasionally very large 'Kolam' known as 'Chattakolam' which are created  out of more than 1000 sheaths are made.Such Kolams can not be carried on head because of huge size and weight  but drawn on carts around the temple and placed at a place.It will be a ravishing and imposing vignette show piece.

The word padayani means an array of soldiers.Lord Shiva's 'Pada'(Soldiers) started 'Padayani', and hence the name is a belief.The 'Nair' soldiers of yesteryears used to perform in olden days and the name derived is another belief.Still now, before the perform of 'Kolams' some  men of the village displays acrobatics,martial arts,physical strength-stamina-physical  abilities and flexibility  as a Custom which is known as 'Kappoli' at the temple premises.
Padayani is the festival in which all the villagers take part without any discrimination.It is the festival period of unity,enjoyment and 'True Devotion'.

                            The finished 'Kolams' are  worn by  trained dancers and brought to the temple at night in a procession and torches made up of dry coconut leaves are used along with some oil lamps in the traditional way.Afterwards each and every 'Kolams' are performed according to their particular songs and respective rules.These dances will mostly finish at dawn only and as the last item a ritual known as 'Poopada' is performed.
The colourful effigies of the sanguinary characters in different shapes and sizes reflected   by the flames of torches,the schematic springy foot steps done deftly by the dancers creates  an enchanting and wonderful mood 
for the spectators.
Kadammanitta Bhagavathy Temple-Pathanamthitta,
Kurambala Bhagavathy Temple-Pandalam
Puthukkulangara Bhagavathy Temple-Othara-Chengannur
Vadasserikavu Bhagavathy Temple-Mundancavu-Chengannur etc
are some of the famous Bhadra Kali Temples where Padayani is celebrated
in a grand manner every year.