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Tholppavakkoothu Ritual Art

Imagine a land surrounded by the majestic green slopes of the Western Ghats through which flow the clear backwaters... welcome to Kerala, "God's Own Country". Blessed with some of the prettiest sceneries in the world, Kerala is made even more attractive by the rich culture and heritage of the land, whose roots stem back to ages immemorial in the history of Kerala.

The culture of Kerala is even today proudly preserved in the hearts and minds of the people of Kerala, which contributes greatly in the enhancement of tourism in Kerala. One of the various facets in the culture of Kerala is the preservation of the various ritual arts of Kerala, notable among which is the Tholppavakkoothu.


One of the most important rituals in several well known temples of Kerala, the ancient ritual art of Tholppavakkoothu is basically a form of puppet dancing, a trait that can be gathered from the literal translation of its name which means, "leather puppet play". Performed during the annual festivals in the Kaali temples of Palakkad district, the theme of Tholppavakkoothu revolves around the life of Lord Rama, the legendary hero of the Ramayana, one of the most sacred Indian epics. Tholppavakkoothu describes the event which began with the birth of Lord Rama till his coronation as the king of Ayodhya.

Generally performed in the "Koothumadam", or specially constructed play houses in the premises of the various temples in Kerala, Tholppavakkoothu is a shadow play in which the puppets are moved to depict the various scenes of the drama. The puppets which are generally carved out of hides of buffaloes and deer, a trait, which too holds significance as the buffalo hides are used to depict evil characters while the deer hides represent noble characters in the drama.