Folk Dances of Kerala

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Chakiarkoothu dance is believed to be of Aryan origin and is performed only in temples by members of the Chakiar caste. The dance is staged in theatre halls known as ‘Koothambalam’.


Cherumarkali is a harvest dance in which the dancers, both men and women move in a swift rhythm, linked in a back lock or holding arms.


Kavadiyattam is a ritual dance offering in the Subramanya temples. 

Kumbhamkali ​:

‘Kumbhamkali’ or ‘Kumbhamthullal’ is a folk ritual dance performed by women, who carry pots on the heads during the dance.


Kuthiottam is a song and dance ritual exclusive to the Devi temples of South Kerala. 


Oppana is a Muslim bridal group dance.


Ottantullal is a solo dance form referred as ‘poor man’s Kathakali’.

Padayani or Padeni:

Padayani or Padeni is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk dances associated with the festivals of certain temples in Alleppey, Kollam and Kottayam districts of southern Kerala. It involves impersonating divine and semi-divine figures by wearing huge masks (‘kolams’) of different shapes, colours and designs.


‘Theyyam’ or ‘Kaliyattom’ is a ritual dance typical of northern Malabar. Elaborate description of such rituals is found in the Tamil literature of the Sangam period (500 B.C.-500 A.D.).

Thidampu Nritham:

Thidampu Nritham is the 700 years old ritualistic art form of North Kerala.


‘Thiruvathirakali is a dance form which is a pointer to the old customs followed in Nair ‘tharawads’ (joint families) where the women of the house arrange themselves in a ring and go around a floral arrangement while clapping their hands to the accompaniment of songs (‘Thiruvathira pattu’).


‘Thullal owes its origin to Kunjan Nambiar, one of the leading Malayali poets and is characterised by simplicity of presentation, wit and humour. It is of three types – ‘Ottanthullal’, ‘Seethankam thullal’ and ‘Parayanthullal’.

‘Kolkali’, ‘Kummattikali’, ‘Kummi’, ‘Purapaddu’, ‘Tira’, ‘Todyam’ and ‘Vadithallu’ are other popular folk dance forms of Kerala.

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