The Journey Through the Traditional Artforms of Kerala.

Kerala is the destination which you can explore on a single journey. But if you stay for a longer time you get to traverse through each and every minute thing that makes this place special to the travellers. I decided to be that particular traveler who could see something more than the usual people who come here for the tourist destination. I began my journey along with my parents on a affordable and cheap Kerala family tour packages. Both of them were Professors teaching arts in a renowned college at Banglore.


Another reason for visiting Kerala was that the Youth festival had been going on at the state level. My mother had been invited by her friend who had been teaching at a government school there. We landed at the International airport of Kozhikode from where we were driven to the district of Kannur. The Kalolsavam was scheduled here for the year. We got into a comfortable hotel nearby and post lunch, went to the school auditorium where Mohiniyattam competition had been taking place. There were quite a large number of viewers who had been keenly watching the dance form that was being performed. There were a lot of venues where various other competitions like Mappilapattu and Duffmuttu were taking place. I spent a long time watching Duffmuttu. It is an ancient art form that belongs to the Malabar region. When enquired more I also got to know that in most of the marriage functions of the Malabar, they perform  Duffmuttu and Oppana as a part of the traditional custom the Muslim community follow here.



Out of a lot of audiences there, I met a British couple who had been on their amazing Kerala honeymoon packages from Bangalore. A little startled, I had a short conversation with them in which they conveyed that they had been staying at Bangalore and teaching Tap dance and Salsa. As a part of their research for the doctorate degree, they had been doing the dance forms and art forms that exclusively belonged to Kerala. It was fascinating that out of all the Indian art forms, they had come to Kerala to do their research.


Post lunch, we gathered together to watch Kathakali. The specialty of this art form is that it conveys a story to the audiences as the name precisely mentions. Mostly traditional tales are conveyed through it and it is also considered to be a part of Hinduism culture. During most of the temple festivals, Kathakali is performed which shows holy transcripts like Mahabharata and Ramayana. The performances of the children were worth mentioning as a whole lot of effort goes into both dressings as well as the makeup of the artists. It is also a known fact to the experts that some major elements of Kathakali have been taken from Kutiyattam and Krishnanattam which are also ancient performance art forms.  It was late night when we reached back the hotel. Even then the competition were going on. The next day we took a long drive to the Kalamandalam that is situated at Thrissur. This district is known as the cultural capital of Kerala. The Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi and Kalamandalam are located in this district. We Kalamandalam is where performing arts are taught by the experts.


The major art form courses of the university that has been affiliated with Government of India are Bharatanatyam, Nangiar Koothu, Kathakali,  Koodiyattam, Thullal and Mohiniyattam along with very famous Panchavadyam which is the orchestra that traditionally belongs to this state. Other than dance forms, instruments are also taught here where the chenda and Maddalam are primely taught. My mother had a friendly talk with the teachers who had been teaching there. Another fascinating thing about the Kalamandalam was that the students, as well as the teaching faculties, stayed together like that of the Gurukulam system that had been followed in the ancient past. After going to the classrooms of each of these, we took a stop at Panchavadyam. 5 instruments are used in it which are kombu, idakka, maddalam, ilathalam and timila. As you hear the rhythm of it, you fall for it and became a fan of the aura it creates. Madathil Varavu, which is an integral part of Thrissur Pooram also has  Panchavadyam along with it.


A lot of people flow to Thrissur during the Pooram to enjoy it as no other place showcases such performances in magnificence. We went to the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi where a short film festival had been taking place. As of India is concerned the only movies that can be played in the theatres are those that go on for 2 and a half hour. But actually, a lot of short films that convey a lot more messages than commercial films only get their space on youtube. In order to gain the recognition, it is mandatory to have short film and documentary festivals.  


Our last destination was the Vadakkunnathan Temple. It was also located at Thrissur and we had decided to visit it to pray as well as to see the magnificent architecture of the Temple that has been considered for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. When we got inside the temple we saw the Koothambalam that is situated inside. Quite a number of people had been waiting there in order to watch the Nangyar Koothu. Usually, the stories of Sree Krishna Charitam is what the experts perform. Ramayana and Mahabaratha stories are also enacted by the Chakkiars who these performing experts are often referred to as. I would suggest our package as the best Kerala tour package because we really enjoyed every second of it.

It is true that most of the ancient art forms have been carried forward to this decade only because it holds a very strong part in the mind of the people. While most of these fall into purposes that convey religious activities, it is still being continued to be used by the people. As years go by, it becomes the responsibility of the newer generations to see to it that the art forms do not become a matter of the past.

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