Counted among Deva Vadyas (instrument of deities), Maddalam is a drum used in ceremonial occasions in Kerala
. This instrument, about two feet in length, tapers outwards from the middle. Its ends, the right slightly wider in diameter than the left, are closed up with two kinds of hides. Tough straps of buffalo leather, which link the two parts, enable fine tuning and ensure the sound quality. The barrel shape is made of the hardwood of Jack tree.
Maddalam is held up horizontally while playing it with both hands, with finger rings worn on the left hand. Suddha Maddalam is one of the varieties of this instrument played while firmly attached to the waist of the player. Topi Maddalam, which is played suspended from the neck, is the lighter version used in temple rituals.