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Art & Culture

Culturally, Kerala presents a pageant not found anywhere else in India. The famous pantomime dance-drama, Kathakali, the Sopana style of music, the contributions of Swathi Thirunal and Raja Ravi Varma in the realms of music and painting respectively are some of Kerala's unique contributions which have enriched the cultural heritage of India.

Kerala's folk music, though not refined, is rich with a rugged beauty that is really genuine, with its rhyme and rhythm. These are mostly devotional in nature, like the Sarpapattu, Bhadrakalipattu, Ayyappanpattu etc. The Thullalpattu demands the skill and artistry of a professional. Among the instrumental performances, Thayampaka, Panchavadyam and Kelikottu deserve special mention. The chenda, and chengala are some of the typical percussion instruments of Kerala.

Although Carnatic music is in vogue in Kerala as the classical music, Kerala appears to have evolved a somewhat distinctive style of singing known as the sopana style. It is believed that this style derived its name from the sopana or flight of steps leading to the sreekovil (sanctum sanctorum) the place for the ritual singing of Ashtapadi. Kathakali has adopted this style of singing which is low in tempo and emotional in content.

Kerala has produced great masters in the realm of music. The greatest composer is Swathi Thirunal, the Maharaja of Travancore (early 19th century) who left a rich legacy of songs in six languages-Sanskrit, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. They represent the finest flowering of the Carnatic tradition in Kerala. Irayimman Thampi, a contemporary of Swathi Thirunal, was another great composer Kerala has produced. The greatest musician in Kerala history, Shadkala Gonvinda Marar, who lived during the days of Swathi Thirunal, was a wonderful genius who elicited admiration even from the great Thyagaraja.

The dance forms of Kerala can roughly be divided into five categories, viz; tribal dances, folk dances, classical dances, neo-classical dances and modern dances.

Various Art Forms in Kerala

Source: IT Department, Government of Kerala