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Mohiniyattam is a traditional South Indian dance form from Kerala, India. It is a very graceful dance meant to be performed as a solo recital by women. The word "Mohiniattam" literally means "dance of the enchantress". Mohiniattam may have been coined after Lord Vishnu. There are two stories of the Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini.In one, he appears as Mohini to lure the asuras (demons) away from the amrita (nectar of immortality).

In the second story Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva from the demon Bhasmasura.The main theme of the dance being love and devotion to God and most of the time Lord Vishnu or Krishna is considered to be the hero. This type of dance has a combination of two major dance types in South India mainly Bharatanatyam and Katakali. There are approximately 40 different basic movements, known as 'atavukal', in Mohiniyattam. The costume includes white sari embroidered with bright golden brocade.

The vocal music of Mohiniattam has a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam. The Mohiniattam dance is performed to this accompaniment by the subtle gestures and footwork of the danseuse. The performer uses the eyes in a very coy yet sensual manner. It is said that only beautiful woman should perform the Mohiniyattam.

It is the classical dance drama of Kerala, which dates from the 17th century and is rooted in the Hindu mythology. It is unique combination of acting, dancing, painting, literature, music and so on. It literally means ‘story-play’, it is means of enacting the story in form of a dance. Kathakali in its origin, is performed even today at the famous Sree Krishna temple in Guruvayoor as an offering to the Lord.It is said that in the beginning the actors themselves used to sing the text while performing.
Masks were elaborately used for some characters and percussion was limited to a Maddalam (two headed barrel shaped drum), a Chengila (metal gong) and Elathalam (a pair of cymbals).

In olden days Kathakali performance mostly took place on a temple premises or at the house of a local land lord. A minimum of 12 feet is needed for the acting area. A green room will also be located close to the stage.The stage will be decorated with coconut leaves, bunches of areca nuts etc. The only source of light is a big bell metal lamp placed down the center stage. It is in total a combination of dance, drama, music, percussion, acting and painting which makes it a total theatre.
It is the famous folk dance of Kerala. It is also known as ‘Thiruvathirakali’, a very popular, graceful and symmetric group-dance of the women of Kerala often performed during festive seasons like Thiruvathira and Onam. The dancers are typically dressed in the kerala style with mandu and neriyathu and the hairbun bedecked with jasmine garlands.The women dance in gay abandon, singing melodious Thiruvathira songs which are well-reputed for their literary flourish.
There would be one of the dancer’s who would sing the first line and others would later repeat in chorus, clapping their hands in unison. Moving in a circle, clockwise and at time anticlockwise, at every step they gracefully bend sideways, the arms coming together in beautiful gestures, upwards and downwards and to either side, in order to clap. At times men would also participate as seen in some parts of Malabar Coast.
Thumbi Thullal

This is another famous dance performed during the time of Onam. Group of women dance and sing on this occasion. The performers would be dressed in their best sarees, stunning jewelry, and fragrant gajras, a group of women sit in the formation of circle to play Thumbi Thullal. In the centre of the circle sits the main performer. It is a song -dance event in which the women form a circle and play.

A woman chosen the "Thumbi" sits in the center of this circle and is the lead performer.

She starts to sing a song and the other women join in after the first couplet is sung by the Thumbi. They clap rhythmically to the songs and sway to its melody. The Thumbi holds a few Thumba leaves, bunched together. These leaves grow on the Thumba, a flowering shrub that grows well in Kerala. She hides her face in these leaves and moves to and fro to the song’s beat.

The songs are usually fast paced and as the tempo increases, the thumbi brushes the floor almost like a possessed person. The song then gradually slows and ends. After the onlookers have cheered and the performers laughed their fill, th It is indeed heartening to see the woman of the hearth and home in such a jocund, carefree mood. The song and dance lifts their spirits and the Onam is celebrated with fond enthusiasm.


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