Mudiyettu – Ritual art of Kerala

Mudiyettu is a ritual dance form conducted in the temples of Idukki, Ernakulam and Kottayam districts.  Mudiyettu is one the most traditional form of dance mainly performed in the village areas attracting the whole villagers.  Collective participation of the entire makes it a community ritual that instils and strengthens the common identity and mutual bonding in the community.
Mudiyettu, the ritual dance drama, with its origin from Kerala is based on the mythological tale of a battle between the Goddess Kali and the demon Darikan.  It is performed annually in the ‘Bhagavathi Kavus’, the temples of Goddesses, by the members of the Ezhavathy community who were once priests of many temples in Kerala.  Mudiyettu performers draw a huge image of Goddess Kali, called as Kalam, on the temple floor with coloured powders, wherein the spirit of the Goddess is invoked. Chenda and Elathalam are the instruments used.
Mudiyettu serves as an important cultural site for transmission of traditional values, ethics, moral codes and aesthetic norms of the community to the next generation, thereby ensuring its continuity and relevance in present times. It is believed that various art forms worshipping Goddesses were very common in some parts of the Kerala before the origin of temples.  Once the worship started at the temples, some of the art forms were used to be conducted to please Gods and Goddesses.
Kerala is famous for its traditional and classical dance and art forms.  But many of them lost its value and ruined while some other art forms are still performing in many parts of Kerala with all its moral codes and devotions.  “Mudiyettu” is one among them, a mixture of entertainment and devotion, the art is more of a ritual than dramatic. The characters also perform rhythmic steps which make the art more interesting to the viewers.
The dance form celebrates the victory of Good over the Evil.  The tale says that the Asura Dharikan, undertook a severe penance to achieve more powers and Lord Brahma forced to appear before him, blessed him with a boon.  Dharika asked Lord Brahma to give him a boon that no man would be able to kill him.  Lord Brahma asked them why they were not demanding females also could not kill them.  Enraged by the pride, he replied that it is a disgrace to their community to demand likewise.  Lord Brahma seeing the evil intentions of Dharika moved to a conclusion that the Demon will be killed by a female.  Mudiyettu is performed in temples based on this mythological tale. But this part of the story is actually not performed in Mudiyettu.
The sequences of scenes performed in Mudiyettu are the following.

  • Kotti Ariyippu: This is done in the morning, usually after the morning poojas in the temples.
  •  Kalamezhuthu: A huge colourful image of Bhadrakali is drawn on the temple foor, to invoke the spirit of Goddess. This is Kalamezhuthu usually done in the afternoon.
  • Kalam Patu: Devotional songs in praise of Kali are sung by the performers infront of the ‘Kalam’ after the night poojas in the temple.
  • Chutti Kuthal: After the Kalam Patu, the artists undergo ‘chutti kuthal’ for the performance to start.
  • Vilakku Vaipu: This is the lighting of the stage lamp in the centre of the temple yard. The performance is carried out centralising this lamp.
  • Keli Kottu: This is to announce the starting of the performance using certain ‘thalam’ instruments.


Ref: Godsownidukki


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