Arjuna Nritham is a ritual art form mainly performed in the Bhagavathy temples of Kerala
. This all night presentation is usually in solo or pairs.
Performed exclusively by men, this spectacular dance is devoted to Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers. It is believed that Arjuna appeased Goddess Bhadrakali by this devotional presentation.
This dance form is also known as Mayilppeeli Nritham. It is so called because the costume includes a characteristic garment made of mayilppeeli (peacock feathers). This garment is worn around the waist in a similar fashion as the uduthukettu of Kathakali. The dancers cover their face with green and wear distinctive headgears.
Kavithangal, the songs sung in the dance, deal with various themes of the Puranas and are strictly rhythm based. The dancers explain the intricacies of the particular rhythm before each song.
The dance movements are similar to Kalaripayattu techniques. The dance is accompanied with the rhythmic music of chenda, maddalam, talachenda and ilathalam.