What is Mohiniyattam?

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What is Mohiniyattam? Blog Image


Renowned Mohiniyattam exponent Dr. Kanak Y. Rele recently passed away in a private hospital in Mumbai.

About Mohiniyattam:

  • What is it? Mohiniattam, or Mohiniyattam, is an Indian classical dance form that evolved in the state of Kerala.
  • It derives its name from the word ‘Mohini’, a female avatar of Lord Vishnu.
  • History:
  1. Its roots date back to the age-old Sanskrit Hindu text on performing arts called ‘Natya Shastra’.
  2. Mohiniyattam used to be performed by Devadasis (temple dancers) in temples during the rule of the Chera kings from 9 to 12 C.E.
  3. Mohiniattam developed further as a performing art during the 18th and 19th centuries due to the patronage of several princely states.
  4. The contributions of The Maharaja of the Kingdom of Travancore, Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma, in the early 19th century saw the eventual development and systematization of present-day Mohiniattam.
  •  Features:                              
  1. It is conventionally a solo dance performed by female artists.
  2. It adheres to the Lasya type that showcases a more graceful, gentle and feminine form of dancing. 
  3. It emotes a play through dancing and singing, where the song is customarily in Manipravala, which is a mix of Sanskrit and Malayalam language.
  4. The recitation may be performed by the dancer or a vocalist, with the music style being Carnatic.
  5. The dance is characterized by its graceful swaying body movements with no abrupt jerks or sudden leaps.
  6. The movements are emphasized by the glides, up and down movement on toes, and are largely based on the art of balancing.
  7. More than the footwork, emphasis is given to hand gestures and Mukhabhinaya or subtle facial expressions
  8. The hand gestures, 24 in number, are mainly adopted from ‘Hastha Lakshana Deepika’, a text followed by Kathakali.
  9. Costumes in Mohiniyattam include plain white or ivory cream traditional sari embroidered with  bright gold-laced brocade.
  10. Musical instruments include Mridangam, Madhalam, ldakka, flute, Veena,and Kuzhitalam(cymbals).


 Q1)Which are the 8 classical dances in India?

Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Odissi, Sattriya and Mohiniyattam are the 8 classical dances of India.

Source:Noted dancer Kanak Rele, who gave academic status to Mohiniyattam, dies