The Art of Kathakali

Its not everyday that one can get completely mesmerized and seeing the reactions of the people slowly moving out of the ground ,I realized there were many who felt the same.

It was way past midnight when going back to the home of my host and was pitch dark . I followed some of the locals who were also returning back and were using their torch to walk the path. With great caution I continued walking on the small seperator on the paddy field and quickly reached the main road and then inside my room upstairs in the homestay.

I was reflecting on the experience of watching the live Kathakali performance in this small village 100 miles off Palakkad town.I was fascinated by the colors and the exciting synthesis of synchronized body movement,light and sound which created a world completely different and magnificent from the everyday.


Kathakali literally translates to “Story Play” and this form of dance drama originated more than 350 yrs back in Kerala, India.

The performance today was within the temple premises and was on a slightly raised stage. A big metal lamp provided the required light and was enough to enhance the colors painted on the face and body of the artistes.


The themes of the Kathakali are religious in nature. They typically deal with the Mahabharat, the Ramayana and the ancient scriptures known as the Puranas. According to tradition there are 101 classical Kathakali stories and today’s theme was based on one of the characters from the Mahabharat.


A striking feature is the use of elaborate facial makeup, colorful costumes and headgear. While other dance forms are emotive more than narrative, Kathakali blends both well to bring myth and legend to life in the temple courtyards of Kerala. The artistes use their stunning costumes and vivid makup with the accompaniment of drums and vocalists to create various moods and emotions. These characters can be as varied as Gods, demi-Gods, saints,demons, Kings , half humans and other mythological personas. The dance form involves the whole body of the artiste and includes elaborate facial expressions, mime, gestures accompanied by appropriate movements, pose and attitude. The interpretation of the test is primarily conveyed through hand gestures.








At the end of this magnificent play, I felt deeply connected to the myriad traditional and culture rich art forms that Kerala and India offers so graciously and magnanimously to the traveller.


Kalaripayattu dance show.


village paddy




1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s