Mohiniyattam – A Classical Dance in India

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Mohiniyattam – A Classical Dance in India

Mohiniyattam is the dance of The God’s own Country Kerala. Mohiniyattam means dance of Enchantress.

It is closely related to Bharathanatyam of Tamil Nadu, which was originally called ‘Dasiyattam’. Originated as the temple dance performed by Devadasis, it portrays feminine love in its myriad forms – carnal, devotional and maternal- with accent more on Lasya and Bhava. In the main items Cholkettu, Padavarnam and Padam, Mudras and facial expressions are more important than the rhythmic steps.

Costumes and ornaments of Mohiniyattam have much in common with female characters of Koodiyattam and Kathakali.

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Once Mohiniyattam was performed only in Temples premises and royal courts. The first reference to Mohiniyattam is found in ‘Vyavaharamala’ composed by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboodiri, of 16th century AD. Major contributions to this art form were given by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal, Irayimman Thampi and Kuttikunju Thankachi.

After Swathi Thirunal’s period there was a downfall of Mohiniyattam. It somehow degenerated into eroticism to satisfy the Epicurean life of a few provincial satraps and landlords. The renowned Malayalam poet Vallathol revived it and gave it a status in modern times through Kerala Kalamandalam which is presently doing its best for the development and popularity of Mohiniyattam.

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It has a mesmorising effect with the half white costume with golden zari work with golden ornaments. It is performed with highly graceful movements with medium tempo which contributes to this aesthetic effect.
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