Mudiyettu is an interesting dance form based on the mythological battle between the goddess Kali and demon Darika. It’s a ritualistic art form, and a community ritual, which witnesses the participation of the entire village. Mudiyettu, the traditional folk dance drama from Kerala, was included in the list of UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in the year 2010.
The ritual is enacted after the summers crops have been harvested. The villagers reach the temple early in the morning on a particular day (which is decided beforehand). Its interesting to note that the traditional performances of Mudiyettu purify their minds and bodies through fasting and prayers. After arriving at the temple, they draw an enormous image of Goddess Kali on the temple floor called “Kalam”. This is done with the use of colored powder which is obtained from organic material. The significance of “Kalam” is that it enables the performers to absorb the spirit of the goddess in its entirety.
Then begins the depiction of the battle between goddess Kali and demon Darika, with goddess Kali emerging as the winner. It is also a victory of good over evil. Mudiyettu performance is believed to usher in a prosperous and peaceful new year which leads to the purification and rejuvenation of the entire community. Mudiyettu is performed with 16 persons. There are also difference in the traditional attire of the performers as well as their performance styles of this dance.
Mudiyettu is performed annually in “Bhagavati Kavus”. These are the temples dedicated to goddess Kali along the rivers Chalakkudy Puzha, Periyar and Moovattupuzha, and is extremely popular among the Kurup and Marar communities. The various aspects of the community, ranging from mythic, ritual, ecological and festive, is reflected in this dance form. It also reflects its creative aspirations, besides being extremely aesthetic.