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.

1 comment:

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