Well worth a holiday to see Kathakali (literally: Story-Play) is a traditional form of dance drama from India. It is known for elaborate make-up and costumes, and involves dancing with detailed facial expressions and gestures to underline the dance, vocal and instrumental accompaniment.

The dances are pantomime, telling a story through exaggerated mimics and gestures, while in the background singers sing the storyline. Different colours in the facepaint display different characters: Green are noble characters or important gods, red are evil demons, yellowish are sadhus and women.

Kathakali originated in Kerala during the 17th century and over time went through an evolution towards more and more elaborate looks, gestures and singing.

Its roots lie in the Hindu mythology, and the dances are performed to the Gods as an act of devotion. It is a great honour to be a Kathakali performer, and  training to be a Kathakali dancer can take up to 10 years. Traditionally all roles were played by men, but more and more women are accepted as performers. The performances usually start in the evening and last until early in the morning.

 

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