Details shared by Ramakrishnan A, Palakkad
About kanyar kali
Kanyar Kali is a dance ritual performed by the Nair community in the Goddess temples of Alathur and Chittur Taluks in Palakkad district. This ritual is a blend of dance, drama, music, song and martial arts and is usually performed for four consecutive nights as a part of Vishu celebrations. It is believed to be originated from a quest for martial arts, when the region was under the threat of attack by Kongan rulers. It is performed on a square stage called Pandal in the temple premises. In the beginning, a group of men perform a rhythmic circular dance known as ‘Vattakkali’. The performers sing and dance around a traditional lighted lamp. There are three rounds of Vattakkali and in the final round, songs are sung in praise of the Goddess. It is followed by ‘Porattu’, which is an interesting entertainment that portrays the customs and social life of different communities and tribes. There are different varieties of Porattu with varying styles of performance and rhythm, involving dance, drama, song, and comedy. The musical instruments used are Chenda, cymbals, Maddalam and Chengala.
Name of Ritual/Custom
Kanyar Kali is performed as a part of Vishu celebrations and is usually performed in the months of April and May.
Kanyar Kali is usually performed in the Goddess Temples of Alathur and Chittur Taluks of Palakkad District.
Recommended length to visit
Kanyar kali starts at night and ends in the early morning. It is performed for four consecutive nights.
Do's & don'ts
Language of the songs is Malayalam and you may need the assistance of an interpreter to fully understand it. But for dance performance, there is no language barrier.
Generally the performers of Kanyar Kali are men only. To represent women characters they do cross-dressing and imitate their body language. Though it was a ritual art performed by men of Nair community, there is a recent trend to encourage men and women from other communities to perform Kanyar Kali.