Art and Cultures of Kerala
Kerala folklore is unique in its richness and variety. Folklore in its widest sense embraces traditions, folk tales, folk songs, folk arts, folk beliefs, taboos and superstions, belief in omens and magic.
The people of Kerala belonging to all castes and communities have their rich collection of folk songs, which have drawn their themes from religion and mythology, agricultural operations like sowing, harveting, and incidents of social life like weddings and the beauties of Kerala landscape. Vanchipattuakal, Mappilapattuakal, Pallipattuakal, and Onapattuakal are some of them.
Folk Arts :
Kalaripayattu is the comprehensive system of martial arts of kerala, regarded as one of the oldest and most scientific in the world. Kalaripayattu training aims at the ultimate co-ordination of mind and body. The traditional training in a kalari includes specialisation in indigenous medical practices too. Kalaris are also centres of religious worship.
Thiruvathirakali is a classical dance form, which is a pointer to the old customs followed in the nair tharawads (joint families). In this dance form, the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the thiruvathira pattu (song).
Kaliyoottu is an eight day long colourful folk ritual which been acts the combat between goddess durga and the demon darika. The ritual is performed in different stages. The climax of the play - the ritual called paranettu - is performed on a specially constructed 100 feet high stage on the eighth day.
Kanniyarkali (deshathukali) is a ritual art dance from, which is performed to the accompaniment of devotional folk songs and the resounding beats of drum. It is usually performed in bhagavathy temples.
Kavadiyattam is a ritualistic dance form performed by devotees. The group of devotees wearing bright yellow or saffron costumes with ash smeared all over the body dance in a frenzy carrying kavadis on their shoulders. Kavadis are colourful bow shaped wooden structures rising six to ten feet tall. The ambalakavadi is structured and decorated like a temple. The pookavadi has clusters of colourful, paper, cloth or plastic flowers arranged on them. The resounding beats of percussion instruments like udukku and chenda and the nadaswaram are characteristic of the kavadi procession. It is usually offered in subramanya temples
Kolkali: is a group dance form of the farming community in kerala. Twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp, tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hands.
Kalampattu (kalamezhuthu pattu) is a folk art form that belongs to the northern regions of kerala. This art form, which is over 600 years old 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 bhadrakali, 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.s
It is one of the most elaborate and spectacular martial folk arts of kerala. This ritual art form is usually presented within the temple premises and is called thirumumbil vela when performed before the deity and kulathilvela when performed near the temple pond. Fifty or more performers in the traditional attire of soldiers, bearing colourful shields and swords or long canes, dance with war like steps in perfect orchestration with the resounding rhythm of the thakil, suddha maddalam, elathalam, kuzhal and trumpets. A few fighting techniques of kalaripayattu are also displayed in the course of the performance.
Culture Of Kerala :
Among the people who have enriched Indian Cultural Heritage and helped the cause of national integration, the people of the Kerala region of South India have a place of honour. Kerala culture is in fact, an integral part of Indian culture. Kerala like the Indian sub continent can claim to have a culture the history of which runs into the dim recesses of antiquity.
Kerala's culture is also a composite and cosmopolitan culture to which several people and races have made their significant contributions. The gradual evolution of composite and cosmopolitans culture led to the emergence of a spirit of tolerance and catholicity of outlook, which still persist among the people of Kerala. Its history unfolds the romantic and fascinating story of a unique process of cultural synthesis and social assimilation. In response to every challenge Kerala has demonstrated through the ages its genius for adaptation and fusion of old traditions and new values in every sphere of human thought and endeavour.
The culture of Kerala has persisted through the ages precisely for the reasons of antiquity, unity, continuity and universality of its nature. In its widest sense it embraces the highest achievements of the human spirit in every sphere of life. Thus, in its totality, it represents the quintessence of the collective achievements of a people in the fields of religion and philosophy, language and literature, art and architecture, education and learning and economic and social organisation. In fact, all through its history the genius of Kerala has blossomed forth in all its vigour and vitality and has helped its people to reach the peak of excellence in all their endeavours.