What is Mohiniyattam?

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In a historic move, the Kerala Kalamandalam, a deemed university for arts and culture, has lifted gender restrictions to learn Mohiniyattam.

About Mohiniyattam

  • It is an Indian classical dance form that evolved in the state of Kerala.
  • History and Evolution
    • Its roots date back to the age-old Sanskrit Hindu text on performing arts called ‘Natya Shastra’.
    • It is used to be performed by Devadasis (temple dancers) in temples during the rule of the Chera kings from 9 to 12 C.E.
    • Later on it developed further as a performing art during the 18th and 19th centuries due to the patronage of several princely states.
  • Features:
    • It is conventionally a solo dance performed by female artists.
    • It adheres to the Lasya type that showcases a more graceful, gentle and feminine form of dancing. 
    • Theme: The dance form Mohiniyattam has love and devotion to God as its major themes, with usually Lord Vishnu or his incarnation Lord Krishna as the lead character.
    • It emotes a play through dancing and singing, where the song is customarily in Manipravala, which is a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam language.
    • The recitation may be performed by the dancer or a vocalist, with the music style being Carnatic.
    • The dance is characterized by its graceful swaying body movements with no abrupt jerks or sudden leaps.
    • More than the footwork, emphasis is given to hand gestures and Mukhabhinaya or subtle facial expressions. 
    • The hand gestures, 24 in number, are mainly adopted from ‘Hastha Lakshana Deepika’, a text followed by Kathakali.
    • Costumes in Mohiniyattam include plain white or ivory cream traditional sari embroidered with bright gold-laced brocade.
    • Instruments used: Mridangam, Madhalam, ldakka, flute, Veena and Kuzhitalam(cymbals).

Q1) What is Natyashastra?

 It is a classic on dramatics and aesthetics which has been commonly attributed to Bharata, the sage for its authorship. It has been founded on human psychology prevailing under conditions of India’s cultural system with a focus on stage performance.

Source: Kalamandalam opens doors for boys to learn Mohiniyattam