Kummatti kali of Malabar during Onam celebrations
I have heard about Kummatti of Malabar from my childhood. When I came to Thrissur last year, I happened to hear about Kummattikali related to Onam celebrations of cultural capital of Kerala. It was from my new neighbour that I came to know that Kummatti kali is a part of middle Kerala too. She also told that Kummattis visit their homes too, and collect rice and coins from the people. It is a folk dance form and the people who perform Kummatti kali are known as Kummattis. It is a traditional art form without any strict rules or formal training. It’s merely meant for entertaining crowds, similar to Kaduvakali of cultural capital.
Kummattis use mask of characters related to Hindu mythology to play Kummattikali. Krishna, Rama, Ganapathi, Siva, Garuda, Narada, Narasimha, Hanuman and Sita are most popular. Very often, story of Kiratha and Dharaka are selected for the play. The body will be covered using ‘Kummatti’ grass – hence the dance form got the name Kummattikali. Their hands are also covered with this green grass to get a bushy and tribal experience. While choosing masks, toothless ones are preferred.
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