Indian Folk Dance

PADAYANI
Padayani or Padeni in colloquial speech, is one of the most colourful and spectacular folk arts associated with the festivals of certain temples in southern Kerala (Aleppy, Quilon, Pathanamthitta, and Kottayam districts). The word Padayani literally means military formations or rows of army, but in this folk art we have mainly a series of divine and semi-divine impersonations wearing huge masks or kolams of different shapes, colours and designs painted on the stalks of arecanut fronds. The most important of the kolams usually presented in a Padayani performance are Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy), Pakshi (bird) etc.

The Kolam consists primarily of a huge headgear with many projections and devices with a mask for the face or a chest piece to cover the breast and abdomen of the performer. The whole performance consisting of the dancers or actors who wear the kolams, the singers who recite a different poem for each Kolam, and the instrumentalists who evoke wild and loud rhythm on their simple drum called Thappu and Cymbals, etc., takes the form of a procession of Kali and her spirits returning after the killing of the Asura chief Darika.


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