Kamandi or Kaman Pandigai: This is celebrated to commemorate the puranic event when Manmada the God of Love was burnt to ashes by Siva in anger. The villagers separate themselves into two parties as Erintha katchi and Eriyatha katchi and a heated debate ensues. Kaman and Rathi, his consort, are main characters.
Devarattam: Devarattam or ' the dance of the gods' is the dance of the Kambala Naikar community of Tamil Nadu, who believe that they are the direct descendants of the 'devas' or gods. Fast and fluent movements to the rhythmic sound of ' Deva Thunthubi' - a drum-shaped percussion instrument, make this dance truly enjoyable. The dance is performed during festivals, marriages and other social occasions.
Kummi: The womenfolk of Tamil Nadu have three closely related dances, which can be performed at any time but are seen at their best during festivities. The simplest of these is the Kummi, in which the dancers gather in a circle and clap their hands as they dance. As an extension to this is the Kolattam, where instead of clapping, the participants hold small wooden rods in their hands and strike these in rhythm as they dance.
Kolattam: Kolattam is an ancient village art. This is mentioned in Kanchipuram as 'Cheivaikiyar Kolattam', which proves its antiquity. This is performed by women only, with two sticks held in each hand, beaten to make a rhythmic sound. Pinnal Kolattam is danced with ropes which the women hold in their hands, the other of which are tied to a tall pole. With planned steps, the women skip over each other, which forms intricate lace-like patterns in the ropes. As coloured ropes are used, this lace looks extremely attractive. Again, they unravel this lace reversing the dance steps. This is performed for ten days, starting with the Amavasi or Newmoon night after Deepavali.
Karagattam or Karagam: Folk dance of Tamil country, the villagers perform this dance in praise of the rain goddess "Mari Amman". In this dance, the performers balance the water pot on their head very beautifully. Traditionally, this dance is performed in two types - Aatta Karagam is danced with decorated pots on the head and symbolizes joy and happiness, while the Sakthi Karagam is performed only in temples and is mainly danced for entertainment. Earlier it was performed only with the accompaniment of the Naiyandi Melam, but now it also includes songs. Most expert artistes are from the regions of Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Tirunelveli, and Pattukottai and Salem.
In the Karagam dance intricate steps and body/arm movements decides the skill of performer. This dance can be performed individually or in pairs, by both the sexes. Some of the steps that are widely used are similar to the circus acts; dancing on a rolling block of wood, up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backwards and many more. Today, the pots have transformed from mud pots to bronze ware and even stainless steel. The pots are decorated in many ways with the help of attractive flower arrangements, topped by a moving paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer takes swings along these looks beautiful. When men perform this dance, they balance the pots filled with uncooked rice, surrounded by a tall conical bamboo frame decorated with colourful flowers. Drums and long pipes form the musical instruments that add vigor to the dance. Also they dance standing over a plate i.e. rim of the plate, filled with water, without spilling water out of the plate while balancing the pot on their head.
Mayil Attam or Peacock dance: This is done by girls dressed as peacocks, resplendent with peacock feathers and a glittering head-dress complete with a beak. This beak can be opened and closed with the help of a thread tied to it, and manipulated from within dress. Other similar dances are, Kaalai Attam (dressed as a bull), Karadi Attam (dressed as a bear) and Aali Aattam (dressed as a demon) which are performed in the villages during village get-togethers. Vedala Aattam is performed wearing a mask depicting demons.
Paampu attam or Snake Dance:Paampu attam is yet another typical speciality of the southern region is the snake-dance which arises from the popularity of the snake as a protective divinity, safeguarding the health and happiness of the rural folk. Usually danced by young girls dressed in a tight-fighting costume designed like the snake-skin. The dancer simulates the movements of the snake, writhing and creeping, at times making quick biting movements with head and hands. The raised hands held together look like the hood of a snake.
Oyilattam: Meaning Dance of Grace, was traditionally a dance where a few men would stand in a row and perform rhythmic steps to the musical accompaniment, with the number of dancers increasing; over the past ten years women have also started performing this dance. Typically, the musical accompaniment is the Thavil and the performers have coloured handkerchiefs tied to their fingers and wear ankle bells.
Puliyattam: Puli Attam is a Folk Dance of early Tamil country. This Dance forms "a play of the Tigers". Normally the performers make movements of the majestic tigers.Their bodies are painted by local artists in vibrant yellow and black to resemble replica of a tiger. The music instruments used are Tharai, Thappu or Thappattai. Performed during temple festivals on the village streets.
Poikal Kudirai Attam: Poikal attam refers to the dance of "false legs". Here dancers are attached to a dummy horse at the waist. Instead of 4 legs of a horse only 2 legs of the person with the prop on his body is present. The image is similar to a rider on a horse (albeit a two legged horse and thus the name Poikal attam). This is a popular folklore dance with themes often on "Raja Desingu" - a once popular Rajput ruler called Tej Singh who invaded areas all the way up until Tamil Nadu.
Bommalattam: Puppet shows are held in every village during festivals and fairs. Many different kinds of puppets are used for this show - cloth, wood, leather, etc. They are manipulated through strings or wires. The persons stand behind a screen and the puppets are held in front. The stories enacted in the puppet shows are from puranas, epics and folklore. These shows are very entertaining and hold both adults and children enthralled for many hours.
Theru Koothu: Normally conducted during village festivals, during the months of Panguni and Aadi. This is performed where three or four streets meet. Here, make-up and costumes are considered of prime importance. Only men take part; the female roles also played by them. The performance consists of story-telling, dialogue-rendering, songs and dance, all performed by the artistes. The stories are taken from Puranas, epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata, and also local folklore. The play starts in the late evening and gets over only during the small hours of the nights. Theru Koothu is popular in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. The Koothu can be categorised as Nattu Koothu, including Vali Koothu, Kuravai Koothu etc. Samaya Koothu dealing with religious topics, Pei Koothu including Thunangai Koothu and Porkala Koothu dealing with martial events.
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