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The cultural heritage of Kerala shows a wide spectrum of several unique factors. The rich culture and heritage of the state enhances the quality of experience of tourists. In Kerala tourists can experience the diversity of the culture of the state. The art forms, heritage of the state of Kerala, which attracts thousands of tourists. Tourism offers a powerful incentive for preserving and enhancing intangible cultural heritage, since the revenue it generates can be channeled back into initiatives to aid its long-term survival. Intangible cultural heritage must be thoughtfully managed if it is to flourish in an increasingly globalized world. Only true partnerships between communities and the tourism and heritage sectors, built on a genuine appreciation for the aspirations and values of all parties, can ensure its survival.

Kathakali

Kathakali is a major form of classical Indian dance. It is a “story play” genre of art, but one distinguished by the elaborately colourful make-up, costumes and face masks that the traditionally male actor-dancers wear. It is native to the Malayalam-speaking southwestern region of Kerala and is almost entirely practiced and appreciated by Malayali people

Kathakali’s roots are unclear. The fully developed style of Kathakali originated around the 17th century, but its roots are in the temple and folk arts (such as Krishnanattam and religious drama of the kingdom of the Zamorin of Calicut) southwestern Indian peninsula), which are traceable to at least the 1st millennium. A Kathakali performance, like all classical dance arts of India, synthesizes music, vocal performers, choreography and hand and facial gestures together to express ideas. However, Kathakali differs in that it also incorporates movements from ancient Indian martial arts and athletic traditions of South India. Kathakali also differs in that the structure and details of its art form developed in the courts and theatres of Hindu principalities, unlike other classical Indian dances which primarily developed in Hindu temples and monastic schools.

Kalaripayattu

Kalaripayattu, also known simply as Kalari, is an Indian martial art that originated in modern-day Kerala, a state on the southwestern coast of India. Kalaripayattu is known for its long-standing history within Indian martial arts. It is believed to be the oldest surviving martial art in India, with a history spanning over 3,000 years.

Kalaripayattu is mentioned in the Vadakkan Pattukal, a collection of ballads written about the Chekavar of the Malabar region of Kerala. In the Vadakkan Pattukal, it is stated that the cardinal principle of Kalaripayattu was that knowledge of the art be used to further worthy causes, and not for the advancement of one’s own selfish interests. Kalaripayattu is a martial art designed for the ancient battlefield (the word “Kalari” meaning “battlefield”), with weapons and combative techniques that are unique to India.

Mohiniyattam

Mohiniyattam, is an Indian classical dance form that developed and remained popular in the state of Kerala. Kathakali is another classical dance form of Kerala. Mohiniyattam dance gets its name from the word Mohini – a historical enchantress avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, who helps the good prevail over evil by developing her feminine powers.

Mohiniyattam’s roots, like all classical Indian dances, are in the Natya Shastra – the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text on performance arts. However, it follows the Lasya style described in Natya Shastra, that is a dance which is delicate, eros-filled and feminine. It is traditionally a solo dance performed by women after extensive training, though nowadays men can also perform the dance. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam includes music in the Carnatic style, singing and acting a play through the dance, where the recitation may be either by a separate vocalist or the dancer themselves. The song is typically in Malayalam-Sanskrit hybrid called Manipravalam

Ottan Thullal

Ottan Thullal  is a recite-and-dance art-form of Kerala, India. It was introduced in the eighteenth century by Kunchan Nambiar, one of the Prachina Kavithrayam (three famous Malayalam-language poets). The folksy performance, often laced with humour intended at criticism of society, is accompanied by a mridangam (a barrel-shaped double-headed drum) and/or the handy idakka besides a pair of ilathalam cymbal

Like most Indian performing art forms, Ottamthullal has its principles influenced by the Natya Shastra (c. 2nd century BCE). The word Thullal means “to jump” or “leap about” in the Malayalam language. Legend has it that Nambiar, the poet, fell asleep while playing the mizhavu drum for a Chakyar Koothu performance, inviting ridicule from the chakyar. In response, Nambiar developed Ottamthullal, which raised prevalent sociopolitical questions and made a satire of human pedigrees and prejudices. The chakyar complained about Nambiar’s production to the king of Chembakassery. The king banned performances of Ottamthullal from the Ambalapuzha temple complex. Closely related art forms are Seethankan thullal and Parayan thullal. Mathur Panikkar popularized Ottamthullal for modern audiences. Ottamthullal competitions are held and the art form may be used to spread a social message.

Theeyam

Theyyam (Teyyam, Theyam or Theyyattam) is a popular ritual form of dance worship in Kerala and Karnataka. Theyyam consists of thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs. The people of these districts consider Theyyam itself as a channel to a god and they thus seek blessings from Theyyam.

There are about 456 types of Theyyam. Theyyam is performed by males, except the Devakoothu theyyam; the Devakoothu is the only Theyyam ritual performed by women. Devakoothu is performed only in the Thekkumbad Kulom temple.

In Kerala, Theyyam is performed predominantly in the North Malabar region (consisting of present-day Kasargod, Kannur Districts, Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad and Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode). A similar custom is followed in the Mangalore region of neighbouring Karnataka known as Bhuta Kola.

Thiruvathirakali

Thiruvathirakali or Kaikottikaliis a unique dance performed in Kerala on the auspicious day of Thiruvathira, the birthday of Lord Shiva. It is performed by women who seek blessings for eternal marital bliss. It falls in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January). As per Hindu mythology, this dance is what brought Kamadeva (God of Love) back to life when he had been burnt to ashes by Lord Shiva’s fury.

Groups of up to eight or ten women are seen dressed in traditional Kerala attire, dancing in a circle. The graceful movements of the dance are both enchanting and elegant. The white saris with colourful borders along with fresh jasmines adorning their hair make for a wonderful sight. 

Margamkali

Margamkali is an ancient Indian round dance of the St. Thomas Christians community- based in Kerala state, mainly practiced by the endogamous sub-sect known as the Knanaya or Southist Christians.The dance retells the life and missionary work of St. Thomas the Apostle, based on the third- century apocryphal Acts of Thomas.

“Margam” means path or way or solution in Malayalam, but in the religious context it is known as the path to attain salvation. The process of conversion to Christianity was known as “Margam Koodal” until recently in Kerala. Much of this folk art is woven around the mission of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The original Margam Kali describes the arrival of St. Thomas in Malabar, the miracles he performed, the friendship as well as the hostility of the people among whom he worked, the persecution he suffered, the churches and crosses he put up in various places, etc. These details are incorporated in the various stanzas of the Margam Kali songs. Kerala’s Margam Kali is an important element in the age-old and hallowed tradition of St Thomas among the Syrian Christians of Malabar Coast.

Oppana

Oppana is a popular form of social entertainment among the Mappila (Kerala Muslims) community of Kerala, South India, prevalent throughout Kerala, especially in Malabar. The Term Oppana is believed to be originated from the Arabic word “Affna” Oppana was originated on the occasion of make of Muslim brides. But in Kerala, this art form has been revived with much popularity on the performing stages of the Youth Festivals of the student community.

Oppana is generally presented by females, numbering about fifteen, including musicians, on a wedding day. The bride dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments and her palms and feet adorned with an intricately woven pattern of mylanchi (henna), sits amidst the circle of dancers. She is the chief spectator sitting on a peetam (chair), around which the singing and dancing take place. While they sing, they clap their hands rhythmically and move around, the bride using simple steps. Two or three girls begin the songs and the rest join in chorus