Traditional Culture of Kerala

God's Own Country

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Kerala has a long and rich history in music. Some popular music in Kerala is the :

1. Chenda Melam ( Drum Beats ) - Chenda melam is popular in Kerala and has been practiced from a long time. It is usually played during festivals and special occasions.

2. Carnatic Music - Carnatic music is a system is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India : Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

3. Classical Music - Kerala is musically know for Sopana Sangeetham , which is a form of classical music originated in temples of Kerala. Sopanam is religious , and is developed through singing songs at the Kalam of Kali, and inside the temples.

4. Kathakali Music - The language of the songs used for Kathakali is ManiPravalam, a mixture of Malayalam and Sanskrit.

5. Film songs - Film music of Kerala in particular is the most popular form of music in the state. Before Malayalam cinema and Malayalam film music developed, the Keralites eagerly followed Tamil and Hindi film songs and that habit has stayed with them till now.


Many types of dances and art forms have originated from Kerala. Several dance forms which originated in Kerala are today popular worldwide especially the Kathakali dance. Some popular dance forms of Kerala are :

1. Kathakali - The word 'Katha' in Malayalam means Story and 'kali' means Play. Kathakali has originated over 500 years ago, it is a spectacular classical dance form of Kerala. It is a combination of drama, dance, music and ritual. Kathakali is one of the oldest theatre forms in the world.

2. Theyyam - Theyyam other wise known as Kaliyattam or Thirayattam, is one of the most outstanding folk arts of Kerala. It is a sacred ritual dance performed to glorify the goddess Kaali.

3. Thullal - The word 'Thullal' means 'to leap or jump about playfully'. This art form emerged in the eighteenth century. A solo performance combining both dance and recitation, thullal is the explication of a tale.

4. Duffmuttu - Duffmuttu (also known as Arbanamuttu) is a dance form particular to the Muslim community of Kerala. The origin of Duffmuttu can be traced back to the Arabs. It is still accompanied by Arabic music.

5. Kaikottikali - Kaikottikkali, also known as Thiruvathirakali, is a very popular group dance of Kerala. Thiruvathirakali is performed by the women of Hindu community, often during festive seasons like Onam and the Thiruvathira day.

6. Margamkali - Margamkali is a very ancient and the most popular artistic performance prevalent among the Syrian Christians of Kerala. Margamkali is performed by men and women on festive occasions, especially during the time of marriage.

Pictures of Popular Dance forms of Kerala

Festivals of Kerala

Some popular festivals of Kerala are :

1. Onam Festival - The history of Onam goes this way;

Long time ago King Mahabali ruled the southern dynasty and was very famous for his wise, just and benevolent nature. Lord Vishnu is perturbed due to Mahabali's fame. Thus, to deplete him off this popularity and to teach him a lesson, Vamana, the fifth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, disguised as a Brahmin, and requested him three steps of land. Two steps of Him covered whole earth and patal (lower world). King Mahabali offered his head for the third step to be placed and thus King Mahabali was pushed down to 'patalam'.

Lord Vishnu was very pleased with the determination with which King Mahabali tried to fulfill his promise and allowed him to visit his country and people once in a year. Thus on the day of 'Onam' it is believed that the King Mahabali visits his country to see its prosperity and share the joy and spirit with the inhabitants.

2. Vishu - Vishu is the astrological New Year of Kerala which falls in the month of April whereas the official New Year falls between the month of August and September (Chingam).

3. Boat Races - Boat Races are very popular in Kerala and thier team includes common man, fisherman to the sports personnel. There are 4 popular boat races held in Kerala. They are :

(a) Nehru Trophy Boat Race

(b) Champakulam Moolam Boat Race

(c) Aranmula Uthradi Vallamkali

(d) Payippad Jalotsavam

Pictures of popular festivals of Kerala

Commonalities with Other States

Kerala and West Bengal

There are many things in common with Kerala And West Bengal. Some of them are :

1. They share the same festival of Durga Puja ,

2. Both the states' food has rice as the staple food with large helpings of fish curry ,

3. The traditional clothing attire also provides unity as the dhoti for men and the white sarees for women , and

4. Both states play football and show interest in football rather cricket .