The National Geographic Magazine names Kerala among the top 10 paradises in the world. ‘God’s Own Country’ was originally a phrase New Zealanders used to describe their home land. The earliest use of the phrase was as the title of a poem about New Zealand by Thomas Bracken. God’s own country as a phrase was often used and popularized by New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister RichardSeddon. The etymological meaning of Kerala is the land of coconuts, Kera means coconut in Malayalam. Kerala is abundantly endowed with coconut trees all over its mainland. The thick ambush of coconut trees is a treat to the eyes. Situated at the southernmost part of India, it is an exotic location with a temperate climate. However the real beauty of the land are its people, Kerala boasts of having the first fully literate state in the country, Kottayam. Life expectancy rate in Kerala is the highest in India and the female to male sex ratio n Kerala is higher than the national average.
Kerala is a home to a number of dance and art forms, they are an integral part to the regions culture. They are performed in temples and ceremonious occasions. The dances of Kerala are wonderfully vibrant and breathtakingly enchanting. They carry hues of enthusiasm and gaiety and are a perfect blend of pristine culture and rich traditional beauty. Legends and mythological stories are depicted through the dance forms. Kerala is today known all over the world for its enchanting performing arts which were highly patronized by the rulers and sketched to eternity by the folklores.
Kerala has a rich variety of folk dances. Some of them are
Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world. It is group dance where in dancer take in roles based on themes from the Hindu mythology, primarily the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. A really interesting aspect of Kathakali is the elaborate dressing and makeup. Characters are sorted according to the nature of the role they play and wear colors accordingly. The face of noble male characters like kings and divine heroes such as Rama are painted green. Characters of high birth such as Ravana with an evil streak in them are painted a similar green on their faces with red streaks. Extremely evil or excessively angry characters wear predominantly red makeup and a flowing red beard. Forest dwellers and hunters are represented with a black faces. Women and ascetics wear a luminous yellow face. The technique of depiction involves a highly complicated gamut of gestures with which the actor can articulate lines and even words, the body movements and footwork are aesthetically intricate and precise. The actors to perform this feat have to go through several decades of trainingand require regular body massages for flexibility and muscle strength and control.
it is a dance form closely related to Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu called dasiattam. Originated in the temples the dance was performed by Devadasis, it articulated feminine love in it myriad forms namely carnal, paternal and devotional. It somehow degenerated to eroticism in the epicurean way of life until Vallathol, a renowned Malayalam poet revived its status in modern times with his institute called Kalamandalam. Most of the features of Mohiniattam are similar to the one in kuchipudi and bharatnatyam, though there are subtle differences in the movements and hand gestures. The language used in the lyrics is a mix of Malayalam and Sanskrit, known as manipravalams
It is a socio-religious act performed in the Koothambalam. It is a solo narrative dance with sprinkles of wit and humor. Through the inimitable narration of the epics the Chakkiyar, the performer articulates the satirical conditions in those times. No one is above the butt of his mockery, he doesn’t spare kings or slaves. His humor ranges from innocent mockery to veiled innuendoes.
Thaiyam is one of the most spectacular dance forms of Northern Kerala which is about eight centuries old. It is believes to have been derived from the word Daivam meaning God. It is believed that immortal spirits enter into mortal bodies while performing the dance. Theyyam is staged regularly in the shrines of Malabar.
There are also a large number of folk dances that have survived the ages and continue to enthrall us with their rapture. Some of them are
Thiruvathira is performed by maidens who revolve around a cirle while performing dance steps along the music which is essentially the clapping and the narrative song sung by singers as they go around the cirle.
It is a group dance performed in a circle where the dancers dance to the rhythmic beats with sticks in their hands. The dance gains tempo and pace as it advances and is performed only by the males who have a certain basic martial art training.