Kathakali is one of the classical Indian dances -drama form which is highly noted due to its attractive makeup, costumes the gestures and the beautiful body movement. The Kathakali dance has been introduced almost 1500 years ago in the folk and ritual dances of Kerala, Southern India.
The word Kathakali means “story- telling”. The highly elaborated costumes that a Kathakali dancer wear has become one of the most recognized Icon of the Kerala.
In olden days there were 101 classical Kathakali stories which were performed by Kathakali dancers. But now at present only one third of these is performed most commonly and also In those day’s performance used to last for one whole night, but now the performance last for four to five hours only, in which the whole performance is divided into parts. Kathakali performance is considered as one of the major social event. Kathkali is performed only by men performers. All the main performers dress in the costumes of women.
There are many types of costumes which are worn by the performers. The performance includes Sathwika(the hero), Kathi (the villain), Minnuku (females), each character’s are recognized easily by their makeup and costumes
The red and white make-up done on the face of performers are available locally white color is made up of rice flour and the red is made up of vermilion and the black color is made up of soot. These colors are mostly used for portraying characters. Here the red color is painted on the feet, symbolizing the evil character. Except these there are many other colors which are classified into five basic sets namely Pachcha, Kathi, Kari, today and Minukku.
The Paccha (green color) is used to portray noble male characters who are having a mixture of satvik (pious) and rajashik (darkness) nature. The Kathakali dancers mostly use the gestures of hands for explaining the whole story these hand gestures are called as Madeira. One who wants to master the Kathakali dance has to undergo a training of at least 10 years.
The language used in the songs of Kathakali is Manipravalam but not all the songs, some of them are set in ragas based on microtone Carnatic music. It has taken root from the songs which were sung in temples. The instruments used in the song make it more attractive. All the instruments used are totally different than others. These instruments used are namely Suddha Mandalam, Chenda, Manjira, Idakka.
Nowadays, even women’s are involved in these dance forms as they too had generated an interest being in the modern world, there is no hard and fast rule that the women can’t perform. Above all combinations of beautiful costumes, make-up, music’s and the talent in Kerala make up a good combination and add to the grace and beauty of the state.