Pakkanar Pattu and Mudiyatta Pattu: Folk Music Traditions from South Kerala

in Module
Published on: 29 August 2019

Ajith Kumar A.S.

A writer, music director and documentary filmmaker, Ajith Kumar A.S. lives in Thiruvananthapuram. He writes on music, art, cinema and Dalit culture. He has also directed a documentary on caste in music titled ‘3D Stereo Caste’.

Pakkanar Kali and Mudiyattam are ritualistic art forms practised by Dalit communities in Central and South Kerala. Mudiyattam, primarily a dance form, is performed by women, whereas Pakkanar Kali is a dance form of the Paraya community, performed by men. The songs sung alongside Pakkanar Kali and Mudiyattam are called Pakkanar Pattu and Mudiyatta Pattu, respectively. Different versions of Mudiyattam are performed by various Dalit and Adivasi communities, and the dance form is known by different names such as Thalayattam, Mudiyattam, Malavazhiyattam and Neeliyattam.

These art forms are testimonies of the life, stories and struggles of the communities that practise them as much as they are expressions of resistance, liberation and celebration.