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Music and Dance of Tamil Nadu

Tamilnadu is deeply
rooted in a great tradition
of folk arts and crafts,
which display the
traditions and skills that
have come down from
generations. The folk
music and dances of
Tamil Nadu represent the
ethos, aesthetic values
and melody of the region.
Traditionally, folk dances
and music are conducted
during festivals and
community functions.
The following paragraphs
dwell in length about
music and dance of Tamil
Nadu.
Karagaattam
Karagaattam is a popular
folk dance of Tamil Nadu,
which involves balancing
a pot on the head with
musical accompaniment.
The pots are decorated
with a cone of flower
arrangements, topped by
a paper parrot. The parrot
swings as the dancer
swings along. Villagers
perform this dance in
praise of the rain goddess
Mari Amman and river
goddess, Gangai Amman.
Karagaattam has two
divisions- Aatta Karagam
and Sakthi Karagam. This
form of dance is very
popular all over
Tamilnadu. Both male and
female performers
participate in this dance.
Acrobatics such as
dancing on a rolling block
of wood, moving up and
down a ladder, threading
a needle while bending
backwards form a part of
this dance.
Kaavadi Aatam
When the ancient Tamils
went on pilgrimage, they
used to carry offerings to
the gods tied on either
end of a long stick,
balanced on their
shoulders. To lessen the
boredom of the long
travel they used to sing
and dance in praise of the
gods. Kavadi Aattam
traces its origin to this
practice. This led to
composition of special
songs for carrying the
Kavadi. The Kavadi is
made of bamboo strips
and a light pole.
Poikkal Kudirai Aattam
(Dummy Horse Dance)
Poikkal Kudirai Aattam is a
Dummy Horse dance in
which the dancer puts on
the dummy figure of a
horse on his/her hips.
This folk dance needs a lot
of training and skill. The
dummy is made of
lightweight materials and
the cloth at the sides of
the dummy swings to
and fro covering the legs
of the dancer. The dancer
has to don wooden legs
so that the legs look like
the hooves of the horse.
While performing the
dance, the dancer
brandishes either a sword
or a whip.
Bommalaattam or
Puppetry
Bommalaattam or
Puppetry dance shows
are held in rural areas of
Tamil Nadu during
festivals and fairs. Skilled
puppeteers manipulate the
puppets through strings
or wires. They stand
behind a screen and the
puppets are held in front.
The puppetry shows
depict stories mainly from
the puranas, epics and
folklore.
Therukoothu
Therukoothu is usually
conducted during village
festivals in the months of
Panguni and Aadi.
Therukoothu is performed
on the streets and in open
air. In this dance form,
make-up and costumes
are considered vary
important. It is an all male
dance as the males play
the female roles as well.
The performance involves
story telling, songs, dance
and dialogue rendering.
The performances are
based on stories from
Puranas, Ramayana,
Mahabharata and the local
folklore.
Silambaattam
It is a martial art form,
practiced from the days of
the Tamil Kings. It has
metamorphosed into a
non-violent form of folk
dance, adding stepping
styles into the dance
following the measure of
time. This martial art form
also teaches the
performer the methods of
self-defense in modern
day world.
Villu Paattu
Villu Paattu is a popular
folk art form, which
appeals the rural and the
urban communities alike.
In this folk art a chorus,
musical instrument and a
main instrument (Villu or
Bow, fixed with bells)
accompany the main
singer. The Villu is struck
rhythmically when the
bells jingle in tune. The
main singer narrates a
tale, accompanied by
some lively songs.
Snake Dance
The snake dance is yet
another popular dance of
Tamil Nadu. It arises
mainly from the
popularity of the snake as
a protecting divinity that
safeguards the health and
happiness of the rural folk.
Young girls, dressed in a
tight- fitting snakeskin like
costume, usually perform
the snake dance. Here, the
dancer stimulates the
movements of snake,
writhing and creeping and
making quick biting
movements.


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