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  • Context (TH): Kerala Kalamandalam, a renowned institution for arts and culture, has taken a historic step by allowing boys to learn Mohiniyattam, a classical dance form traditionally associated with females.
  • Mohiniyattam is a traditional Indian dance form from Kerala. It is named after Mohini, the female avatar of Lord Vishnu.
  • Like most other classical Indian dances, Mohiniyattam’s roots can be traced back to Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra.
  • It was initially performed by Devadasis (temple dancers) in Kerala during the reign of the Chera kings (9th to 12th centuries CE).

Mohiniyattam - PMF IAS

  • Further development of Mohiniyattam occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries with patronage from princely states.
  • Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Travancore, significantly contributed to its development and systematization in the early 19th century.
  • Mohiniyattam is primarily a solo dance performed by female artists, characterized by graceful, gentle, and feminine movements known as Lasya.
  • It combines dancing and singing, often featuring Manipravala songs blending Sanskrit and Malayalam.
  • Music for Mohiniyattam is typically Carnatic, with dancers or vocalists performing the recitation.
  • The dance is known for its smooth and fluid body movements, avoiding abrupt jerks or leaps.
  • It emphasizes hand gestures and subtle facial expressions (Mukhabhinaya) over footwork, with 24 hand gestures derived from the ‘Hastha Lakshana Deepika’.
  • Mohiniyattam costumes usually consist of plain white or ivory cream saris adorned with bright gold-laced brocade.
  • Musical accompaniments include instruments like the Mridangam, Madhalam, Idakka, flute, Veena, and Kuzhitalam (cymbals).
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