KERALA INFO: Kerala-Folk-Dance-Forms-2
by by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author) (Feedback)
This folk dance prevalent among the Thiyyas of Malabarm is usually performed by specially trained and highly experienced dancers in Bhagavathy temples as a ritual offering during the month of Meenam (March - April). Poorakkali involves all the techniques and feat of Kalaripayattu, a system of physical exercise formerly vogue in Kerala.
This ritual dance propitiating the goddess Kali is performed in small temporary shrines. In Pala Piditham step, a branch of the Pala tree is taken round the temple by about 10 to 12 person who dance all the way to the rhythm set by percussion instruments and to the vociferous shouting and chanting of the accompanying crowd. The branch is then installed in the centre of the shrine as the deity and Pooja is performed by the village leader. Then a person dances around the deity with burning torches which is followed by ten to twelve persons again dancing round the deity with burning torches. The last part of the dance is called the velichapad thullal. Songs are also sung glorifying the victory of Kali over Darika.
The Kuravarkali dance is usually performed outside the temple walls in connection with festivals by the Kuravars who belong to the untouchable class of people. The costumes of the dancers are peculiar with conical caps called pala thopi, white dhothi and red sash. They smear sandal paste all over the body and face and wear the garlands of red chethi flowers.
This ritual dance common with bhadrakalipattu, ayyappanapattu and veitaykorumakapattu, is said to seal the trances and evil spirits. The first stage has kalamezhuthu, in which the form of the deity is drawn on the floor with the aid of five types of coloured powders. Then devotional songs are sung to the accompaniment of nanthuni, a musical instrument. The dancer known as Velichappadu enters wearing red flowery clothes, red scarf, a griddle of bells at the waist and a sword in hand. He slowly gets into a trance and executes vigorous movements called the idumkoorum chavittal.
Models of oxen are made up with leaves and twigs, and carried on shoulders behind which numerous dancers with crude facial marks and skirts made of tender fronds of coconut, dance in exotic jubilance to the accompaniment of instruments like the chenda and the kinni (a bronze plate).
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