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Kathakali is the classical dance-drama of Kerala, South India, which dates from the 17th century and is rooted in Hindu mythology. Kathakali has a unique combination of literature, music, painting, acting and dance. In the following pages we have placed photographs and videos of Kathakali performances and songs by famous Kathakali singers.
Kathakali originated from Ramanattom (“Raman”= the Hindu god, Sri Raman; “attom”= enactment”) and Krishnanattom ("Krishnan"= the Hindu god, Krishnan; “attom”= enactment). History has it that Raja (ruler) of Kottarakkara (a province in Kerala) sculpted Ramanattom when the Zamorin (then ruler of Kozhikode, another province in Kerala) refused to allow a performance of Krishnanattom in the former’s palace. Subsequently, Kottayam Thampuran (ruler of Kottayam, another province in Kerala) composed several plays on Mahabharata thereby making these distinct from stories based on Ramanattom. Thus, Kathakali was born. Kathakali shares a lot of similarities to both Ramanattom and Krishnanattom. But it also incorporated several outside elements, which is thought to have contributed to its popularity. In particular, the increasing use of Malayalam, which is the local language (albeit as a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam, called Manipravaalam) made it more popular among the masses. During its evolution, Kathakali also imbibed elements from folk and martial arts which existed at the time in Kerala. Characters with vividly painted faces and elaborate costumes re-enact stories from the Hindu epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Kathakali is featured in the award-winning Indo-French-German produced film Vaanaprastham. Kathakali has traditionally been performed in Hindu temples, but nowadays it may also be seen in theatres.

Courtesy- http://www.cyberkerala.com