Kerala, southwestern state of India, is famous for its natural beauty and is widely known as ‘God’s own country‘. Named as one of the ten paradises of the world by National Geographic Traveler, Kerala is also famous for its rich cultural heritage in dance, music, art and cuisine.

Kerala’s unique culture and traditions, coupled with its varied demography, have made Kerala one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The classical dance drama of Kerala, South India

Kathakali is one of the renowned indigenous art form from Kerala. Kathakali (Malayalam: കഥകളി) is one of the major forms of classical Indian dance. It originated from Sanskrit drama and patronised by former Maharajas of Kerala. It is another “story play” genre of art, but one distinguished by the elaborately colorful make-up, costumes and facemasks that the traditionally male actor-dancers wear.

In Kathakali the male characters wear glittering round headwear and face painted with green or black colours. They wear folded long cloths painted with vibrant colours. This art form is performed in the twilight of traditional Kerala lamp known as ‘Nilavilakku‘ or ‘Attavilakku‘ and body movements of the actors are in tune with the lyrics known as ‘Kathakali padangal‘ sung by background singers accompanied by ‘melom’ (dance percussion).

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Kathakali primarily developed as a Hindu performance art in the Malayalam-speaking southwestern region of India (Kerala).

Kathakali is one of the most powerful forms of visual story telling in the world.

A Kathakali performance, like all classical dance arts of India, synthesizes music, vocal performers, choreography and hand and facial gestures together to express ideas. However, Kathakali differs in that it also incorporates movements from ancient Indian martial arts and athletic traditions of South India.

The traditional themes of the Kathakali are folk mythologies, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and the Puranas. The vocal performance has traditionally been performed in Sanskritised Malayalam.