Ottamthullal

Ottamthullal is a traditional dance form from the state of Kerala in South India. It was created by the renowned poet and performer, Kunjan Nambiar, in the 18th century. Ottamthullal combines elements of dance, music, and storytelling, making it a unique and entertaining art form.

Ottamthullal is known for its humorous and satirical themes. The performances typically involve a solo artist, known as the Ottamthullal artist, who narrates and enacts stories from Hindu mythology, folklore, and social situations. The artist wears a colorful costume called a thullal kacham, which consists of a long white dhoti (a garment wrapped around the waist), a headgear adorned with peacock feathers, and a painted face.

The performance of Ottamthullal involves rhythmic movements, exaggerated gestures, and facial expressions. The artist combines dance steps with hand gestures known as mudras to convey the emotions and actions of the characters in the story. The accompanying music is provided by a small orchestra, which traditionally includes a mridangam (a percussion instrument), cymbals, and a harmonium.

One of the unique aspects of Ottamthullal is the use of satirical and witty dialogues called thullal-pattu. These verses are composed by the artist or borrowed from traditional texts, and they often contain social commentary, political satire, and humorous anecdotes. The artist delivers these verses with comic timing, often improvising and engaging with the audience.

Ottamthullal performances are usually held in open spaces or temple premises during festivals and special occasions. The art form has a broad appeal and is enjoyed by people of all ages. It not only entertains but also conveys moral and social messages in a light-hearted manner.

Over time, Ottamthullal has gained recognition and popularity beyond Kerala. Its witty and engaging style has made it a favorite among both local audiences and tourists. Efforts have been made to preserve and promote Ottamthullal, ensuring that this vibrant art form continues to be appreciated and celebrated for generations to come.

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