Kathakali is a classical dance-drama originating in Kerala. The typical ‘story play’ genre of this dance is popular among the art lovers and it is famous for the costumes and make up and graceful body movements. Tourists and travelers visit Kerala to watch Kathakali and they learn and research about the classical dance-drama. Both male and female artistes partake in the Kathakali show, the make-up code followed in ‘Kathakali’ conventionally typifies the characters of the acts categorizing them as gods, goddesses, saints, etc…… As Kathakali is a form of storytelling, the dramatics involved in it has been so over whelming that it has attracted huge crowds to watch the movements of their face and hands. The various hand movements of Kathakali is called hasta mudras, facial expressions called rasas and body movements.
There are 24 basic mudras or indication in kathakali and the main facial expressions of an artist are called ‘navarasas’. Pacha, kathi, etc… are the terms given to different kinds of characters. The face of the originator appears like a mask due to the makeup that stands out while performance. The lips, eyebrows, and eyelashes are made to look important. Chutti, which is a mixture of rice paste and lime is applied on the face that helps in peak the makeup.
Tiranokku is the time when all the personality enters on stage and thereafter the drama begins. bang instruments which are used are cheda and maddalam. A drum made of bell metal called chengila is also used which is struck with a wooden stick. Guide singers are called as ponnani and the followers are called singidi.
From the available dances of Onam, this age-old dance drama leads the race for historical significance and popularity. Seeking inspiration from the religious and ancient Hindu scriptures, the performers act out in an exquisite way to delight the spectators. Initially the men’s bastion, now women too perform for this elaborate drama to entertain the people through exhibition of the culture and tradition of the state.
Kathakali is not only a dance form, but a huge social event where hundreds of people gather to soak in the culture. The performances, in many cases, continue right through the whole night to keep the spectator glued and spellbound.