Folk Arts And Other Dance Forms Of Kerala

The variety and quality of performing, folk, and ritual arts of Kerala, Southern India is stunning. Here we are exploring the various art forms of Kerala that have made God’s Own country stand out in the world.

In most of the folk arts, the domination of religion is clearly visible, even in those performed in association with harvest festivals. Most of the folk arts of Kerala are a common thread that binds people from all religions of Kerala. You might be surprised to see an artist belonging to other religions performing Hindu folk art. There is even a Muslim character in the Hindu folk art of Theyyam.

There are specific dance forms for men and women in Kerala to perform. The attire and ornaments of each art form are unique belonging to the region from which it evolved. Most of the performances of the dance forms are kept simple, yet with a high aesthetic sensibility.


It is the most celebrated dance form of Kerala which can boast a history of 400 years. Kathakali means ‘story play’ in Malayalam. It is an exclusive art form since it combines the art of makeup, music, dance, theatre, and martial arts. It is performed even today in temples in association with festivals during the months between October and March.


It is a typical dance form that is performed by women artists. It is known as the dance of the enchantress. It is characterized by the aesthetic movements of the body and hands by the artist. This dance form had its origin from a Hindu Myth.


It is a famous ritual folk art of Kerala. It is a folk art that is about 1500 years old. It is a religious performance depicting the dreamlike representation of God. Theyyam artists are considered divine by the people. Theyyam is performed in the small temples of Northern Kerala.


It is also a ritual folk art that is presented in the temples situated on the banks of the river Pamba. The dance is performed throughout the night. The artists wear specific masks during the performance.


It is the oldest surviving Sanskrit theatre and it was declared as the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the year 2001.


It is the pioneer of all martial arts and it is said to be evolved as early as the 11th century. ‘Kalari’ refers to the place where the training takes place and ‘Payattu’ means martial arts.

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