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Classical dance form of Kerala

Mohiniyattam is a classical dance form that originated in Kerala in very ancient times. It is closely related to Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu and Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh. Simplicity and grace are the hallmarks of this feminine art.

Mohiniyattam, or the dance of the enchantress, displays feminine love in its numerous forms such as carnal, devotional and maternal with more emphasis on Lasya and Bhava. Much importance is given to Cholkettu, Padavarnam and Padam, Mudras and facial expressions than the rhythmic steps.

The language used in the lyrics is a combination of Malayalam and Sanskrit, known as Manipravalam. The music comprises vocal songs and instruments such as Veena, Venu, Maddalam and Idakka. The traditional white mundu and melmundu of Kerala are the costumes used for this dance.

Previously, Mohiniyattam was performed only in temple premises and royal courts. The first reference to Mohiniyattam was in 'Vyavaharamala' written by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboothiri, of the 16th century. Over the years the art has undergone some transformation.

Kerala Kalamandalam is one of the major art schools in Kerala, which provides first-class training in Mohiniyattam.

Updated on 18th August, 2005


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