Folk dances

Kerala is a place which is rich in traditions and cultures. It possesses a rich variety of folk dances too. The different cultures and traditions do constitute the differences in these art forms. Almost all the folk dances in Kerala do have a reflection of certain religious practices. Some of them are performed in connection with harvests, sowing of seeds, festivals etc. It is difficult to classify them under the labels such as social, religious and martial. Some of them are performed exclusively by women, but most of them are performed by men. In some cases, both women and men will have to perform together. More than fifty famous folk-dances are there in Kerala. The most popular among them are- mudiyettu, kolam thullal, poorakkali, velakali, thiruvathirakkali, parichamuttukali, thappukali, kuravrkali, kamapadavukali, kolkkali, kaliyatom, kanniyarkkali, sanghakali etc.

Sangha Kali

Sangha Kali is also known by different names at different places such as Sastrakkali, Chathirakkali or Vatrakali. It can be considered as a socio-religious dance and performed as a motive offering. It was very popular pastime among Namboodiris. Sangha Kali has the characteristics of a martial art mixed with dance. The last phase of Sangha Kali is known as Kudameduppu.


It is a very popular dance form performed among the females of Hindu community. It is a symmetric and graceful group performance performed during festive seasons like Onam and Thiruvathira. The predominating lasya element gives it the beauty and simplicity. The performers will be wearing the traditional Kerala dress (mundu and neriyathu) and will sing the thiruvathira song. All the females in the group will dance gracefully according to the song.


Mudiyettu is a traditional ritualistic dance. The glory and the triumph of Bhagavathy over the demon called Darika will be the theme of mudiyettu. The costume of the characters will be heavy. All the characters will look supernatural.

Kakkarissi Kali

This form exist among the Kuravas of Trivandrum district. This is a kind of group dance which will create a very noisy background. The performers will use primitive drums like para, veekkan chenda etc.

Thappu Kali

This group dance is performed by the Moplahs (Muslim community) of Malabar. Each dancer will hold thappu (dappu) in his hands and beat on it and dance according to the music. Attractive features of these kinds of dance are swaying of the body, timing of dappu, flection of the body and co-ordination of rhythm steps.


Both men and women will participate in this dance form. Striking small sticks and keeping rhythm with special steps, they will move in a circle. As the dance progress, the circle will expand and contract.

Margam Kali, oppana, theyyam and there are so many such items performed all over Kerala. Theyyam is prevalent mainly in Kannur district. There are so many other forms of folk dances in Kerala. It may vary according to the cultural differences and other elements. Kerala is rich in tradition and the its influence can be seen in most of these art forms. These art forms had become a part of the Keralites.

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