Kerala Art and Culture

People of keralaLocated at the tip of the peninsula, Kerala is a traveler's paradise, for it is a repository of a wealth of culture and heritage that imparts to the state much of its personality. The culture of Kerala - its civilization, art forms, beliefs and worldview - are primarily Dravidian. Kerala has a rich and fascinating culture. It is the place where people meet from a rainbow of societies, communities and religions that are housed in this small state along the west coast of southern India. Here, one brings to mind the story of the twins from a small village in Alleppey in The God of Small Things by Booker winning author Arundhati Roy. A majority of the people of Kerala are Dravidians. The chief religion is Hinduism with a certain percentage of the population being Muslims and Christians. The culture of Kerala comprises the dance form called Kathakali, which is a 300 year old activity that is exclusively Keralite. It combines the performing art forms of the opera, ballet, masque and the pantomime. Kathakali dancers coalesce color, dance, music, drama and facial expression. Other dance forms comprise Krishnanattom, Mohiniyattom, Thullal, Koodiyattom, Kolkkali, Thiruvathirakali, Kakkarishi Natakom, Oppanna and Chavittunatakom. The music forms that have evolved down the ages in Kerala include Panchavadyam, Nadanpattu, and Omanathinkal Kidavo. The cultural events of Kerala are the Onam, the Temple festival at Thrissur, the annual snake boat races at Alleppey etc. Id and Christmas are also observed. A variety of steamed rice cakes and pancakes make up the culinary delicacies of Kerala. Mussels are a favorite seafood dish. Eshtew with appam is a must for every Christian marriage reception. Some of the fermented beverages are kallu - toddy and patta charayam - arrack, the latter being consumed with spicy pickles and boiled egg.

Art & Culture of KeralaThe pristine beauty of Kerala derives from the local customs and traditions that date back to historical times. Kerala is famous for its folk art and the traditional dance forms like the Kathakali and Mohiniyattom. The customs in the temples in Kerala differ from traditions practiced in other South Indian states. The priests or poojaris are silent during the pooja. The deity is kept out of sight during the pooja from the devotees by closing the altar during a part of the pooja. The priest recites mantras in silence while the devotees keep silent. After the prasanna pooja the door opens and the crowd of devotees can catch a glimpse of the decorated deity with the traditional lights lit up. Marriage customs in Kerala derive their foundation on the tradition of Kettukalyanam. It was practiced by the Nairs, Kshatriyas, Ezhavas, Arayas, pulayas and certain tribes to conduct ritual marriages of their daughters of different age groups. They were married to adult males. Sometimes one man married several girls. In some cases, the bridegroom even acted as the priest by tying a sacramental thread around the bride's neck. Other local customs of Kerala include the rite de passage, rites of childbirth and cousin marriage. The people of Kerala are distinguished by a fair complexion, regular features and clean habits. The closing of a festival is marked by the Arattu or holy bath. The idols of the deities are carried in a procession to the river for the bath. The purified idols are escorted back to the temple by a grand elephant pageant - the panchavadyam. Pongal is the practice of offering rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains to the goddess Bhagavathy. Among the Muslims is the practice of Chandanakudam or the ritual offering of coins on earthen pots in shrines. Marumakkathayam is the matrilineal system of inheritance. Some of the other traditions of Kerala are: Achuttuvilakku, Paraveppu, Velichappadu / komaram etc.