Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Tutorials for sale @

  View Jennifer Kumar's LinkedIn profile Skype Me™!
Aug 19

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, Cultural Adjustment Coach
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thiruvathira - Folk Dance Performed During Onam in Kerala India

There are a multitude of folk dances in India. In Kerala, one such folk dance generally perfomed in by women is Thiruvathira. I like to call this dance a 'South Indian Square Dance.'

In this post, I share a few YouTube videos of dances I like, and links to videos of the dance as performed by our local Malayalee association (of which I also was part of).

Thank you, and enjoy!

Thiruvathira - Keralasamajam Munich Onam celebration


I am impartial to the grouping of these two songs together as this same combination was used by our own local Malayalee association for Onam in 2008. See the 2007 GRAMNY thiruvathira  video here.

In 2007, we used the same kummi (second part with jumping). See the 2007 GRAMNY rendition here. It's interesting how the same songs are reused and because of the sheer number of combination of moves, there are different renditions of the same song!


Here's another Thiruvathira dance perfomance.


I really like this one. The entrance of the dancers has been done in an artistic way, almost cinematic. You will recongize the song in this video from the other two, also! It appears the songs for Thiruvathira are limited. This is my impression. I am not an expert on this topic, but I remember when the girls were picking out songs for our dance program, there was difficulty in finding good songs suitable for this particular dance.

In this second video, one will notice a few things. One is the setting. Many times the dance is done around a lit oil lamp. However, depending on the place it is done in, it may not be safe to light such a big oil lamp and dance around it (it can be a fire hazard). The decoration in this video is a typical marriage decoration in India. The bottom 'pot' is filled with rice with the husk attached. The pot along with rice is called 'para'. The plant coming out of it is called pookula- it is the coconut flower.

Notes about the Costume for Thiruvathria

In both videos, a typical costume is worn. In both videos the girls are wearing a two piece sari famous in Kerala, called a set-mundu. Unlike a typical one piece, six yard sari, this sari comes in two pieces of slightly differing length and, sometimes, width. Each section is wrapped independantly- one as a skirt with few pleats, and the other like a sash over the sholder. The top is folded with pleats and worn over the left sholder and tucked around the front. You can tell it is a two piece sari because the gold border comes down the center of the sari and in a "V" design in the back on the skirt part. This is actually how it is worn in the first video. In the second video, the sari is worn in a slightly different way. It is wrapped more like two skirts over top of one another. In olden days, women did not wear blouses underneath these saris. I can't imagine this, as the fabric for this sari is also more thin and transparent than a regular sari. Often special underskirts are used for these saris- not white, but off white, and some girls get them specilaly stitched to assure they are 'thick' and not transparent along with the mundu wrap. In the second video, you will also notice there is a gold belt worn around the waist over the sari. Often times, these belts are actually made of pure gold. Along with this costume is also worn a necklace of gold coins called a kashimala. Often times for the dance itself, these gold ornaments, belt, necklace and some others can be rented or they are 'fake'. The kashamala for instance in the GRAMNY videos is actually made from gold colored plastic, and they cost about Rs. 15 each. (Alot cheaper than the real thing, I can assure you!) Often times, as far as the dance costume for our local Malayalee association, girls will keep the back hair loose, but put the front hair back into a pony tail, and adorn the hair with paper mache jasmine flowers. In the second video, you can also see two girls have their hair placed on the side of their heads in a large bun adorned with flowers. This is a typical, traditional hairstyle of some Kerala girls in the mid 1900s. It's not common anymore, mostly done for special occasions or costume dance performances like this.

Hope you enjoyed watching these videos and learning about the Thirvathirakali dance.

Jennifer Kumar is a coach helping Indians and Americans bridge the cultural gap at work. Check out her site here.

Want to know when Onam is in 2014? Check out the Indian - American calendar for 2014.

Related Posts/Links:
An American's Journey to Onam
Onam and Diwali, a Mysterious Connection
Thiruvathirakali Dance Performed for Onam





Copyright ©2009 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


1 comments so far...

Re: Thiruvathira - Folk Dance Performed During Onam in Kerala India

This is a video of Thiruvathira in Cork, Ireland!!

By Jennifer on   Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your name:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment    Cancel  
Search For Articles on India/Hinduism/Indian Culture

Copyright 2007-2011 by Jennifer Kumar