KERALA

The culture of Kerala

The culture of Kerala is a synthesis of Aryan and Dravidian cultures, developed and mixed for centuries, under influences from other parts of India and abroad. It is defined by its antiquity and the organic continuity sustained by the Malayali people. Modern Kerala society took shape owing to migrations from different parts of India throughout Classical Antiquity.Kerala trace its non-prehistoric cultural genesis to its membership in a vaguely defined historical region known as Thamizhagom — a land defined by a common Tamil culture and encompassing the Chera, Chola, and Pandya kingdoms. At that time, the music, dance, language , and Sangam found in Kerala were all similar to that found in the rest of Thamizhagom (today's Tamil Nadu).


MUSIC

The ragas and talas of lyrical and devotional carnatic music — another native product of South India — dominates Keralite classical musical genres. Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, a 19th-century king of Travancore and patron and composer of music, was instrumental in popularising carnatic music in early Kerala. Additionally, Kerala has its own native music system, sopanam, which is a lugubrious and step-by-step rendition of raga-based songs. It is sopanam, for example, that provides the background music used in kathakali. The wider traditional music of Kerala also includes melam (including the paandi and panchari variants), as style of percussive music performed at temple-centered festivals using an instrument known as the chenda.


FESTIVALS

The Sree Padmanbha's Arattu is again a Royal Procession of Lord Sree Padmanabha, the presiding deity of the Temple, happening twice in a year. As Lord Sree Padmanabha was the National Deity of the Travancore Kingdom who adored the title of Emperor of the Erstwhile Kingdom, the procession is considered one of the last legacy of royal heritage, with Kerala Police, Indian Army, Air force making its obligation to the Lord. This was part of the British tradition, when Royal Indian Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy saluted the lord with 21 gun salute, which is still carried today. The procession is considered to the biggest in the city with the Maharaja of Travancore taking the lead in the procession with a Golden sword followed by members of Palace Guards, Kerala Armed police, Sree Padmanabha's Mounted Guards and Royal Elephants, taking the idols of Lords as a parade throughout the city, to the nearby seashore at Shanumugham Beach for a bath. The time of Arattu is a public holiday in the Thiruvananthapuram city and during the bathing time at Sea shore in Shangumugham beach, no aircrafts are allowed to fly over as the Trivandrum Airport is nearby, as a respect to lord. This happens twice in a year one during Nov-Dec time and another during Mar-Apr time Also once in 12 years, the biggest festival at Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple happens, which marks lighting of 100,000 oil lamps, which is world record event, called Lakshamdeepam.


PERFORMING ARTS

Native traditions of classical performing arts include koodiyattom, a form of Sanskrit drama or theatre and a UNESCO-designated Human Heritage Art. katakhalei is a 500-year-old form of dance-drama that interprets ancient epics; a popularized offshoot of kathakali is Kerala natanam (developed in the 20th century by dancer Guru Gopinath). Meanwhile, koothu is a more light-hearted performance mode, akin to modern stand-up comedy; an ancient art originally confined to temple sanctuaries, it was later popularized by Mani Madhava Chakyar. Other Keralite performing arts include mohiniyaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), which is a type of graceful choreographed dance performed by women and accompanied by musical vocalizations. Thullal, padayani, and theyyam are other important Keralite arts.