Introduction + Yakshagana + Patam Katha + Burra Katha + Koli Dance + Koya Dance + Dollu Kunita + Araiyar Sevai + Vattakali + Servaiattam + Kaliattam + Bhil Dance +

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The taste of the people towards learning, practicing and promoting languages & arts is a clear indication of their social, cultural, religious, spiritual, and philosophical levels and the people bunt-mudiraj are well known in this job since unknown times, clearly displaying their qualities as higher level human beings in the main stream of society. There were many bunt-mudiraj kings, who were not only great warriors but also renowned poets during medieval times and promoted all kinds of arts and building of great monuments. The Hampi-Vijaynagar temple monuments have become so famous that the ruins of these temples have found an honourable entry into the list world heritage sites. The people of bunt-mudiraj are known for their contribution to the development, propagation and survival of fine arts in the society even to this day.

The people belonging to bunts, mudiraj, kolis, bhils, vellalas, velamas, kurubas, kolis - all form one block of aboriginals of Indian subcontinent. All of them must be seen as one larger block of people to understand each group from much higher platform and in a much better way.

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Yakshagana is one of the most popular folk dance played in Karnataka and also some parts of Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh. The people of Bunt community has contributed immensely in the enrichment of "yakshagana", the folk dance of these regions.

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Patam Katha is performed by the members of the Kakipadigela Vallu community. Kakipadigela VaIlu are dependent caste singers of the Mudiraj caste. At one time the Kakipadigele Vallu and the Mudiraj castes were one and the same. But legend has it that once a Mudiraj boy brought home a dead crow. Outraged at the sight of a dead crow in the hands of a Mudiraj boy Sabari Mahalakshmi cursed the boy's family to become Kakipadigela Vallu. She also deemed that they would always be dependent on the Mudiraj community for their livelihood and since then the Kakipadigela Vallu have been under the patronage of the Mudiraj.

They are storytellers who narrate the stories of the Pandavas with the help of Patams (a scroll of cloth on which episodes collected with the Pandavas are painted in figures and text). Usually four or five men belonging to the Kakipadigela community form into a tell and narrate stories with the help of the patam.

Patam Katha is also performed usually by a group of four or five who sing/narrate stories with the help of a patam. This is a scroll of cloth on which episodes from the Mahabharata and the appropriate text are painted. All the 18 parvas (parts) of the Mahabharata are narrated. Popular themes include episodes relating to the Pandavas, Subhadra Kalyanam, Bhima Padmavati Kalyanam, the virata parva is sung especially when rains are scarce. The stage for these performances consists of four poles, which are covered on top and three sides leaving one side open for the audience to see the patam and hear the narration. The story is begun after singing praises of the Pandavas and Goddess Sarada. Two of the performers narrate the story while the rest provide the musical accompaniment. The narration of the stories can take up from one to five days depending on the story chosen.

The only exception to this rule is a woman, Chikkudu Suseela, of Jaggayyapalli of Warangal District who has taken to performing this art form. The musical instruments used in this art form are Harmonium, Maddela and Talas. All the 18 parvas (parts) of the Mahabharata are narrated by the Kakipadigela Vallu. Virata parva of the Mahabharata is especially narrated when the rains are scarce. The stage for these performances is prepared with four poles.

It is covered on the top and on the three sides. One side is kept open for the audience to see the Patam and hear the narration. A horizontal bar is arranged for hanging the Patam. No make-up is necessary for the performers. The two narrators take turns in the narration of the story without in any way affecting the continuity of the story. At the end of the narration, the performers praise Peddamma and celebrate the Peddamma festival. This performance can be arranged either during daytime from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or from 9 p.m. to 2 am during nights.

The narration of stories may take one day, two days or even five days depending on the story chosen for the performance. All the participants in this performance are adept in narration and in playing the musical instruments. If their patrons want them to narrate the story with make-up, then they do so. At such times they need nine participants for a performance. The Kakipadigela Vallu reside in the houses of the Mudirajus and usually stay for ten to fifteen days in one village. These performances are their only source of livelihood.

Like those performing Pagati Veshalu the Kakipadigela Vallu travel from one village to the next. They remain in each village for about a fortnight and stay in the houses of the Mudiraj. After each performance the artistes are entitled to Thyagam which is their performance fee and the sum of which is decided beforehand in consultation with the headman of the Mudiraj community. With all their colour and exuberance these two unique folk performances gives one a rare opportunity to delight in the rich tapestry that is our cultural tradition and provides a special way to ring in the New Year.

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Some sections of MUDIRAJU caste people perform Burra Katha. Burrakatha is a popular folk style of story telling in Telugu. Burra means a skull. The instrument resembles a human skull and is made of baked clay with a hollow shell. It is wide on one side and tapers towards the other end. At times it is made out of brass and copper. The Burrakatha storyteller's wife assists him in the singing. The performers belong to the Telaka or Mutharasi caste and are also called Sarada Kandru (The Sarada people), which means, worshippers of the Goddess Sarada Devi.

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The inhabitants of Maharashtra Koli, in West India, live assiduously while preserving their rich cultural heritage. These fishermen are famous for their distinct identity and lively dances. The Kolis of Maharashtra, the fishing folks, have their own typical dance-forms. This dance provides a glimpse at the life of Koli residents and showcases a traditional wedding ceremony. Koli is one of the most popular dance form of Maharashtra that derives its name from the fisher folk of Maharashtra - Kolis. They hold small oars in their hands and move them to the rhythm of a song. Their swaying backwards and forwards create a scene of a boat tossing on the sea-waves. The Koli dance takes different shapes and styles according to the different parts of the region.<

This dance provides a glimpse at the life of Koli residents and showcases a traditional wedding ceremony. This dance form is performed by both men and women, who are divided in groups of two. Their dances consists elements from their occupation that is fishing. These fishermen portray the movement of the rowing of a boat in this dance form. They perform their Koli dances either with their womenfolk or alone in two rows facing each other. They hold small oars in their hands and move them to the rhythm of a song. Their swaying backwards and forwards create a scene of a boat tossing on the sea-waves portray the movements of waves and the casting of nets to catch the fish. The Koli dance takes different shapes and styles according to the different parts of the region.

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The Koya tribes of Andra Pradesh's forests have strong affinity with Marias, tribes wearing Bison-horn head dress. Their Dances have the same forest tribal rites, Ritual, Magical significance and an identical energy. Their dances include, Mayura Nat (Peacock Dance) exclusively performed by Men, Harvesting Festival dances performed in month of April every year. The dance is done in small steps and forming complex patterns on intricate rythemical phrases of half-beats and quarter beats. The musical and rythmic accompaniments mainly consist of the Pioodi and Mayunga. Pioodi is a flute of three feet Bamboo stick with five holes on the end.

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The vigorous drum dance performed by the men of the shepherd community known as 'Kourba' in Karnataka. Powerful drumming, acrobatic movements and attractive formations are the notable highlights of the dance.

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It looks like the renowned Araiyar Sevai, a visual song and dance enactment of the ‘Paasurams’ that has been performed at the Vaishnava Divya Desams for over 1000 years, is seeing a slow death. A ritual which was once performed at all the Divya Desams today exists in only three temples in Tamil Nadu- Srirangam, Srivilliputhur and Alwar Thirunagari(near Tirunelveli).

Araiyars (King of Music) are descendents of Nathamunigal, who is believed to have introduced the Araiyar Sevai. It is believed that Lord Ranganatha himself gave the Araiyars the right to perform the unique musical chanting at the temples and presented them with the cone-like red cap, two cymbals, the sacred garland (which they wear around their neck when they perform).

Araiyars have been bestowed the special right to start as well as end the Paasurams (Divya Prabhandham) in Vaishnavite temples through their special song and dance sequence.

The Araiyars first recite the Paasuram, they then explain its inner meaning and finally perform the Abhinaya, a unique art/dance performance with their hands and legs explaining the Paasurams with special musical effect.

The Araiyar Sevai requires a deep knowledge and understanding of the Paasurams. It is not an easy art, as can be seen from the fact that it takes nearly 20 years to learn and perfect the ‘Abhinaya’.

One of the special ‘Araiyar Sevai’ occasions that is of particular significance is during Vaikunta Ekadesi(the winter month of Margazhi)- The Paghal Pathu(10 days) and the Raa Pathu(10 days, when one is treated to a real spectacle with the Araiyars enacting the ‘Story of Andal’ growing into a young beautiful girl through the Abhinaya.

Will Araiyar Sevai become a thing of the past?

Of real worry is the fact that only a handful of Araiyars are keeping this most difficult art going. Their plight, especially the Araiyars at Srivilliputhur is difficult to digest for a true Vaishnavite. With no salaries, the Araiyars there are finding the going tough, making it difficult for them to even provide basic education to their children.

Says Bala Mukunda Araiyar of Srivilliputhur, who is one of the few Araiyars still practicing this difficult art, “It has been a great honour for the Araiyars to be performing the ‘Abhinaya’. I learnt from my father for over 18 years and have tried my best to keep it going and pass on my knowledge to the next generation. It will be a pity if this 1000 year old art dies because of lack of support.

Awards have been bestowed on artists in various fields but the Araiyars have sadly been left out of this, despite delighting devotees with their unique recital of the Divya Prabhandam. One feels it is time that they were given the recognition that has been due to them for years.


The term Araiyar Sevai denotes "service of the Araiyars".Sometime around 9th century AD Swami Nathamunigal retrieved the Nalaiyira divya prabhandam which had been lost at that time and classified the divya prabhandam into Iyarpa which was meant to be chanted and Isaippa which was suitable for singing.

With his nephews Keelai Ahatthu Aazhwan and Melai Ahatthu Aazhwan Swami Nathamunigal set the pasurams of Isaippa to tune(pan) and trained his nephews to sing and worship the prabhandams in front of the Lord at SriRangam.So they were the first Araiyars who performed in front of the lord at SriRangam. Since then this tradition has been handed down through the succesive generations of the descendents of Swami Nathamunigal. Our generation is VERY FORTUNATE to be able to witness the Araiyar Sevai in its pristine form even after more than a thousand years at places like SriRangam and Srivilliputtur. It is recommended that all Bhagavathas who have not witnessed the Araiyar Sevai to atleast plan and try to witness it once in their life time at either SriRangam or Srivilliputtur.


Araiyar Sevai consists of the following

1)Kondattam :These are short phrases extolling the Vaibhavam of Perumal and Thayar (Nachiyar).The phrases for thayar ends with the word ...Nachiaar and for perumal the phrases end with the word ...Perumaal. A few phrases for both Thayar and Perumal are recited.Usually after this a Mangalam is also recited. These songs are known as pallupattu.

2)SINGING OF PASURAMS,ABHINAYAM AND EXPLANATION OF PASURAMS : This service is done during the Thiruadyayana utsavam.Depending on the particular day the Araiyar Swamigal will take up a select set of pasurams sing them along with the rhythm using the cymbals and perform abhinayam to convey the import of the pasurams with Hand gestures,steps using their legs and body/facial gestures.These gestures are not elaborate as seen in the Natyam traditions but subdued and used sparingly.Also the Araiyar swamigal may walk a few steps in front or back or sideways.The explanation of the pasurams is done with the TampirAn-paDi commentary. A certain pattern is followed in the choice of pasurams at Srirangam,Srivilliputtur and Azhwar Thirunagari corresponding to the local history and tradition of the temple.

3)Dramatization of Certain episodes : The Dramatization of certain episodes with appropriate abhinayams is done on selected days at Srirangam ,Srivilliputtur and Azhwar Thirunagari during the adyayana utsavam.The slaying of kamsa,the Vamana Avatharam,the churning of the milky ocean and the birth of Sri Andal are enacted on special days.

4)Muthukkuri : In this sevai the prediction of future /good fortune is made by the Kattuvici(soothsayer) to the love-lorn lady (Nayaki),with the help of pearls. Here Araiyar swamigal sings certain pasurams and perfoms abhinayam simultaneously taking the role of Nayaki,her mother and the soothsayer.


Apart from SriRangam,Srivilliputtur and Azhwar Thirunagari ,Araiyar Sevai is also done at Melkote(karnataka).Here the Araiyar Swamigal sings the pasurams but does not perform Abhinayam.


M.B. Shivakumar, Araya Samajam, Kerala further adds:

Monuments crumble, manuscripts get moth eaten and traditional fine arts practised for centuries in temples are being forgotten because of long years of neglect. No wonder that the Arayer Sevai, a visual enactment of the passionate expression by Vaishnavite saints which were an integral part of Vishnu worship 1000 years ago, is not confined to a handful of practitioners who themselves are on the threshold of fading away.

Who were the arayers? What makes this dramatic form so unusual in the landscape of Indian performance, ritual, religion and theology? The word arayer itself means king. In Tamil, there are two ways to pronounce the letter 'r'. Said without stress like 'arayer' it means king and with stress like 'rr' it means 'speaker' or 'narrator'. In both cases the word fits these temple servants who dedicated their lives towards the worship and glory of Lord Vishnu through song, dance and drama. Vaishnavite temples were the crucibles of the three branches of learning 'iyal' (literature), 'isai' (music) and 'natakam' (drama). Arayer Sevai which means 'the service or offering of the royal priests' falls under the category of drama.

The main text for these priestly actors was an impressive volume of verses called the 'Divya Prabandham.' The word means 'divine compilation.' The Prabandham was the cumulative result of 12 saint-poets who lived between the 6th and 9th centuries in Tamil country. These saint-poets were called 'alwars'. The word 'alwar' means 'deepest of the deep'; one who is immersed in the devotion of Lord Vishnu/Narayana.

Between the 6th and 9th century, in the Tamil speaking region of South India, these devotees of Vishnu (also known as Tirumal, the dark one) changed and revitalized Hinduism. Along with their counterparts, the Nayanmars, who were devotees of Siva, these saint-poets wandered all over the Tamil countryside, inspiring and converting kings, brahmans, and peasants, affirming in poetry the holiness of hundreds of Tamil places dedicated to Vishnu and Siva. Their pilgrimages, their legends and their hymns, which they sang by the thousands literally mapped a sacred geography of the Tamil regions and fashioned a communal self-image that cut across class and caste. They composed the most important early Bhakti poetry in any Indian language. This is particularly significant when practitioners of dance, dance history and religious studies have a tendency to associate Bhakti/devotional poetry with the later poets like Jayadeva of the 12th century, Chaitanya in Bengal of the 15th century and Annamaya of the 14th century. Even Tulsidas, Kabir, Meera who are popular choices for dancers and singers came much later.

Through the poetry of the Prabandham, composed by these 12 Tamil alwars Hindu philosophy spoke for the first time in India, in a language other than Sanskrit. The imperial presence of Sanskrit with its brahminical texts like the Vedas and the Upanishads was the elitist presence against which Bhakti in Tamil defined itself. Also Sanskrit in India of the 6th century was not a people's language, it was not spoken as everyday tongue. Here was poetry, devotional poetry in a people's first language. The concept of bhakti or devotional poetry as we understand today arose, as suggested by scholars from the meshing of Sanskrit mythology and the Tamil conception of women and kings.

Almost one thousand years after all the 4000 verses of the Prabandham were composed, a devotee called Natamuni (10th century) gathered and ordered the compositions of the 12 alwars and arranged for their recitation. First he only knew of 10 poems and when he realised there were almost 4000, he travelled to the birthplace of Nammalwar (Alwartirunagari near Tirunelveli) and tried to retrieve them. Failing to do so, he meditated and received a vision of the poet Nammalwar himself who revealed all the 1102 verses to him.

Legend goes that he received all the 4000 verses in this way. In order to make the poetry meaningful and alive to the general public, Natamuni arranged for them to be sung and danced on special occasions of Lord Vishnu, particularly in the month of Margazhi which is mid-December to mid-January and in Panguni Chitra which is mid-March to mid-April the end of which marks the Tamil New Year on 14th April. Believing that the songs would live only if many could chant and watch the most special poems danced with gestures and movements, Natamuni is credited to have created a system of ritual performance called Arayer Sevai. The word Arayer literally means Lord or King. The Arayers of today are all direct descendants of Natamuni's family lineage and the practice is held with the male members of the family and not taught to the women. It is devoutly believed that the inspiration for the music and the dance came from Lord Vishnu himself and that it was He who ordained these arayers to perform this unique service for His pleasure. The movement structure of Arayer Sevai is dependent on a regal stature, a stately walk and minute right hand and left hand gestures which weave a complex imagery. The end of every phrase or sentence is marked by a jerky flick of the hand. The feet stamp the ground and the legs are always held in a unique half seated stance.

The costume worn by the arayers consists of a cap which is a reproduction of the crown worn by Vishnu as the temple idol. The garland and the cymbals the arayers carry were all believed to have been given by Vishnu himself.

The arayers were exalted in the hierarchy of temples. They were as important and sometimes even more highly regarded than the priests themselves. Palm leaf manuscripts of temples like Srirangam and Srivilliputur, state that the arayers were given special treatment and medical care whenever they fell ill.

Today all Vishnu temples have the bronze images of the 12 alwars as important figures in their shrines but the art of 'arayer' exists only in four temples, three in Tamilnadu and one in Karnataka. Melkottai in Karnataka does not perform the movements and actions but only the recitation and chanting and commentary. The three temples in Tamilnadu are Srirangam, Alwar Tirunagari and Srivilliputtur.

The insistence on maintaining the purity of their tradition is not augmented with a desire to perfect the art of their ancestors rather than just going through the motions once or twice a year. They refuse to teach, allow audio or video recordings of their ritual and thus it will be but a matter of time when the practice which is already a mere shadow of its former self is completely lost. I was able to watch several hours of their performance since I was considered a direct Vaishnav descendent of one of the famous families of Thirukurungudi (the town of the famous arayer temple bell) and as such allowing me to watch or allowing me to learn some of their movements was not considered sacreligious to the high priest.

Dear Guruji, I think that these people do not know that they are worshiping buddha as Vishnu.

M.B. Shivakumar
Araya Samajam

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Vetan, Vetar, Vettuva, Vettuvar, Vettuvan stands for one and the same community in Tamilnadu and Kerala. This community is considered as one of the subcastes of Muthuraja in Tamilnadu.

Vattakali dance is also called Chavadukali or Chavittukali. It is an extremely vigorous ring-dance of the Vettuvar community. Both men and women participate in the dance. Twelve different types of steps are executed. The beauty of the intricate footwork is heightened by the tinkling of anklets and bells and also by the rhythmic clapping of hands. The whirling movements become faster as the dancing reaches a climax.

9. DEVARATTAM : Devarattam is a social and ritual dance of the Silavaar section of the Kambala Nayakar community of Tamil Nadu. It is performed solely by men and is based on temple traditions and lifecycle rituals. Devarattam means "the dance of gods". They believe that they are the direct descendants of the 'Devas' or Gods. In Telugu Aadatam or Aata meance play (dance). Devara means God.

ankDevattam of Kambala Nayakkars

Aadutam => Aadatam => Aatam => Aata
Aaduta = Aata = play = Dance
Devara = Deva = God
Devara + Aatam = Devaratam => Devarattam = Dance of Gods

Nayakkars are a subcaste of Muthuraja community in Tamilnadu. The main occupation of Nayakars was hunting. The origin of the dance is also reflected in its main form, which is the tracing of the hunting movements by the human body. Today, the movements also reflect household, agricultural and festive activities, which are a part of the daily lives of the people. These movements have been abstracted and stylized in single units of rhythm used repetitively. The percussion instrument Devadhundubhi beats out the rhythm for Devarattam.

he dance is performed especially around April-May, during marriage and other social occasions. The 'Deva Thunthubi' a percussion instrument shaped like a drum, provides the rhythm, and the stress is on fast and fluent body movements. The dance performed ritualistically during festivals varies in nature from that seen on social occasions.It is performed at weddings and other festive and ritual occasions.

The 'Kambala Naikar' community migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Tirunelveli, Chidambaram, Kamarajar, Madurai, Trichi, Coimbatore, Salem and Dharmapuri districts of Tamil Nadu. The dance is performed during the month of Chitra i.e. April-May as well as at marriages and other public functions. Devarattam, seen in the context of festivals is very different from the one that is performed at social gatherings. Certain strict codes of conduct persist, like the mandatory presence of the village administrative head. The costume used is a dhothi and colourful Thalaipa ( Turban ). The 18 basic adavus or steps can be delineated through permutations upto 72 Adavus. The stress is on fluent, fast and rhythmic body movements.

In Telugu language Thala means head and paaga means turban. The cloth tied on the head is known as Thalapaaga.

Thalapaaga => Thalaipaga => Thalaipa
Thala = head
Paaga = Turban
Thalapaaga => Thalaipa = Turban on the head

Devarattam is a pure folk dance still preserved by the descendents of Veerapandiya Kattabomman dynasty at Kodangipatti of Madurai District in Tamil Nadu. It was actually performed once a year near the temple and that too restricted to that community alone. Folklore research scholars have found that Devarattam is a combination of ancient 'muntherkuruvai' and 'pintherkuruvai' of the ancient Tamil Kings. It was performed in front of and at the chariot on the victorious return of the King and his army from battle field. Sometimes even the king and his marshalls would dance on the chariot deck. The soldiers and female dancers would form in lines and dance behind the chariot.

Today, this dance does not have any songs but only danced to the beat of Urumi Melam, Thappu Melam and sometimes, a long flute. The dancers hold a kerchief in each hand and swing them as they dance. The person leading the dance wears false beard and a mask decorated with shells to look like teeth. He dances the first step, which others follow.

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From top to hip, the performers donned a male costume. And below they wore the `pavadai' - the traditional long skirts worn by women. Their performance was for the `Ramayanam', while tapping a small band called the `Servai'. One person in the troupe sported a comedian appearance.

ankServaiattam of Kambala Nayakkars

This dance form called the "Sevaiattam or Servaiattam" was something "totally new and different" and as many vouched they had never come across such a performance at any festival earlier.

"Those who perform this dance rarely come out of their villages. It is practised by members of the Kambalathu Naicker community and performed mainly during temple festivals. It is in fact called `ritual dance'".

Once, in Dvapara Yuga, Lord Siva had to face the brunt of the Bramhakathi (Brahma hathya) dosham. Due to the dosham Lord Siva could not discharge his duty properly. So all the Devas including Indra were worried about this. At that time Sri Naratha Maharishi gave the idea of removing the dosham with the help of Swami Sriman Narayana. All the Devas reached Vaikuntam, the abode of Narayana and told him about the effect of Brahma hathya dosham upon Lord Siva. Swami Sriman Narayana gave abayam to all the Devas. He disguised himself with large Komali Kiritam on his head, Namam in his face, Black coat as vashtra, Thoppai stomach like Lord Vinayaka and Salangai in his feet, and danced before Lord Siva with Seven Sakthi Devis. While dancing with Seven Sakthi Devis in Deva Sabha Lord Siva and all Devas were laughing on Sri Naryana's dance and abinayanas. At that time the Brahma hathya also laughed on seeing Swami Narayana's dance. While laughing the Brahma hathya left the hand of Lord Siva. Thus with the help of Swami Narayana Lord Shiva was releived off Brahma hathya dosha. The dance of Swami Sriman Narayana and Seven Sakthi Devis is performed as "Sevai Attam" folk dance nowadays. It is beleived that by seeing Sevai Attam people will be releived of their doshams.

In another version it is said that to relieve Shiva of this dosham, Lord Krishna performed this dance along with his friends, who were dressed like male up to the hip and from the hip to foot like female. Lord Krishna played the role of comedian on that situation.Since, this dance was performed by the Lord himself, the members of the Kambalathu Naicker Community regard this dance as a divine one and perform only during temple festivals.

This dance is performed with seven persons and one (Lord Krishna) or nine persons with another playing the role of the Lord. "But as such there are no special reasons for this number of members. Similarly, the dance is performed only in a circular manner with the members singing the Ramayanam and tapping the Servai".

There is no professional training imparted to learn the dance. The community members inherently pass on the nuances from one generation to the next. This dance form is very popular particularly in places dominated by a population of Kamabalathu Naicker community members. Apart from Dindigul, this dance is popular in the nearby Theni district, where people of this community live in good number.

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Kaliattam is a folk dance from the Union Territory of Pondicherry. 'Attam' in Tamil means dance. Kaliattam is a dance of Goddess Kali. Shakthi in the avatar of Kali kills Rakshasas in this dance, which is performed during the month of March to celebrate the annual festival of the presiding detity of Angala (Ankala ) Parameshwari. It is also known as 'Mayana Kolaivizha' (Graveyard festival). This dance is performed with an accompaniment of percussion instruments such as Thappattai, Pambai and Udukkai.

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Ghoomar is a traditional women's folk dance of Rajasthan, India which was developed by the Bhil tribe and was adopted by the Rajputs. It is performed by groups of women in swirling robes, and accompanied by men and women singing together. The drums are of various types and the technique of drumming among the tribals is fascinating. In Bastar there are big drums played by sticks. The Bhils use heavy Dhols and Mandals as musical instruments.

The Gauri dance of the Bhils of Udaipur is a purely religious dance performed to appease Bhairavi, their Ishladeva, during the month of Sravan and Bhadon. The dance is based on the life of Siva and lasts from morning till evening. During the rainy season, the Bhils remain out of their homes for a month, and utilize their outing to exhibit their dancing feats which are related to the stories of 'Bhoodhia', an epithet of Siva. This dance reminds one of the Kathakali of south India with its colour and variety. The episodes of Bhiyanwad, Banjara, Khadlia Bhoot and the tiger-boar bout lend much charm and effect to the Gauri. The bhils of Rajastan have a variety of dances like Ghumar dance, Raika and Jhoria. Ghumar is basically a community dance for women and it is performed on auspicious occasions. Men and women sing alternatively and move clockwise and anti-clockwise giving free and intended play to the ample folds of gharana.

The Bhils enthralled the audience with their performance of the Gavri form of art at the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards. Gavri is not really performed or presented in any formal style. In their villages the Gavri dancers enact their story from sun rise to sun set for six weeks. So real is their belief that each individual becomes the character he or she portrays, often sleeping in the mask and costumes they wear. Only after six weeks are they 'converted' back into Bhils, to continue their everyday life. At the Sanctuary Wildlife Awards the Bhils brought alive the crocodile and tiger, porcupine, monkey and majestic elephant for the audience. This ritual of dancing revolves around Shiva as the Bhils perceive him. All Bhils have an intuitive sense of rhythm. They love to sing and dance and they believe that the Gavri dance ritual blesses their village and protects them from floods, famines, earthquakes, fires, dacoits and thieves. It also guarantees a good harvest. All the costumes and make up are improvised. Through simple props, the Bhils effectively portrayed the behaviour of the various animals in swirls of colour and simple instruments that reverberated through the auditorium hypnotising the audience The black costume is of the same material as a widow's garment, symbolic of a widow in search of hear beloved's soul. A blanket and stylized movement became a crocodile. A simple mask turned a Bhil into "Burhiya" an incarnation of Shiva. Dry grass or a jhadoo help them bring a porcupine to life. Simple, life loving people, they use earth materials – ash, coal dust, haldi, for their make up.

The Gana Gour festival is celebrated with much gaiety in Madhya Pradesh. The people believe that Gour, wife of Shiva, was married to Shiva and they stayed in Rajasthan. She could come home only once a year. This coming back is celebrated by these people here. They make small idols of the Gour and worship her along with her husband. For the tribes, the Bhils and the Gonds in Chattisgarh, every festival is followed by some sort of animal sacrifice. The tribals of Bastar often complement their economy by community hunts like Pandum and Parad. The Gonds of Madhya Pradesh worship 'vaghai devi', the Bhils adore 'vaghaika kunwar '(tiger prince) whom fruit, wine and sheep are offered.

Amongst the Rathwa Bhils of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, it is a common practice to install a deity at all auspicious times in the family like weddings etc., within the home in the form of a ritual wall-painting. These are called the Pithora Paintings because the subject is usually the wedding of the deity "Pithoro". These are done in a sacred enclosure and outside the enclosure, other similar paintings depicting incidents from daily life are also done featuring usually horses. Folk paintings get its roots in Rajasthan, one of the culturally richest states of India, where wall paintings of Bhils and the Sanjhya painting have been integral part of local villagers.

Our Caste Names & Subcastes : Mudiraj Muthuraj mudhiraj Mudiraja mudhiraja Muthuraja mudduraja muddhuraja mudduraju muddhuraju Mutharacha Mutharasu Mutharasi Mutrasi Mutharayar Mutharaiyar bunt bant bantulu bantlu Aryar Arayar Araiyar Aryan Arayan Araiyan valavan valayar valaiyar Ambalakkarar gounder koli koliyan kolian raju rajulu Bedar Ramoshi Valmiki Tenugu Tenugolu Tenugollu Tenigolu Tenigollu