About Kerala Folk Dance Forms

Kaalayum Kudayum  

This dance is performed in the harvest by the pulayar community. Models of oxen and horses are made out of bamboo and forest twigs and decorated with white clothes. Umbrellas of five to seven steps decorated with tender coconut fronds, flowers etc., are taken around from house to house.  


This dance is performed in the temples of the lord Subrahmanyam. The dancers dressed in yellow or rose clothes and smeared all over the body with ashes and each with an ornate kavadi on the shoulder, dance in a row to the rhythmic beatings of instruments like udukku, chenda etc. Occasionally, the Nagaswaram is also used. 

Kampadavu Kali

This war dance is performed in circles and the dancers utter wild war cries as it gathers momentum. The group formations are many and varied and the power and variety of rhythm are exquisite. This dance is also known as kampadi kali and koladikali or kolkali. 


Ammana is a hollow metallic ball which contains numerous metallic pieces inside. Women perform the ammanattom dance, using four to twenty-four ammanas which are thrown up and caught deft missing none.  

Aivar Kali 

Aivar Kali, meaning the play of the five sets is performed by the members of Asari, Moosari, Karuvan, Thattan, and Kallasari communities during temple festivals like Veleda, Thalapoli etc. This ring dance is performed with small sticks with twinkling bells attached. 

Ezhamathu Kali  

This is a form of social satire performed by the members of the Variar and pisharady communities around an oil-lit lamp before which is copper pot placed upside down. The songs are in the form of question and answers and those who fail to answer have to enact various roles.  

Pentharumo Nritham  

This graceful group-dance of women is performed by linking their arms and forming two lines. Facing each other, they move forward and backwards to the rhythm of songs. The songs are in the form of question and answer in which one party request the other to give them a girl. The request is promptly refused, but is repeated along with offers of various ransoms and rewards and turned down time and again. In the end a mock trail-of war is executed between the two groups. 


Performed in Bhagavathy temples, this dance costume is as in Velichapppadu Thullal, red scarf on the head and a red flowery clothe at the waist with anklets are tied to the legs. The performer goes round the deity, dancing to the rhymes set by chenda, maddalam, thimila and elathalam. Hooked to the uthjolakam, the dancer suspends himself in the air almost horizontally. In this posture, he executes certain physical feats and dance movements.  

Sangha Kali

Sangha Kali is also known as Sastrakali, Chathirakali or Vatrakali. It is a socio-religious dance of Namboodiris. The origin of Sanghakali may be traced to the numerous gymnasia (Known as Kalaris) in ancient Kerala where physical exercises and military training with special stress on physical feats and swordsmanship were given. A number of people with red scarfs on the head and red cloth on the wrist get together and the performance begins with a procession to the gymnasium to the accompaniment of the reverberation of the chenda, maddalam, elethalam and gong. The dance has a number of phases of ritual worship, recital of devotional songs, pure dance, comic interludes, etc. They include the kottichakampookal, kottiyarkal, pana, velichappadu, nalupadam, slokam, neetuvayana, kandappanpurappad, poli kaimalothika samvadam, paradesipurappad etc. The last phase called Kudameduppu is martial in character involving combat exercise.

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