Kaliyoottu is an eight day long colorful folk ritual which reenacts the combat between goddess Durga and the demon Darika. The ritual is performed in different stages. The climax of the play - the ritual called Paranettu - is performed on a specially constructed 100 feet high stage on the eighth day.
Kanniyarkali or Deshathukali which is a ritual art and a swift dance form performed to the accompaniment of devotional folk songs and the resounding drum beats is usually staged in Bhagavathy temples.
Kavadiyattam is a ritual dance offering in Subramanya temples. The group of devotees wearing bright yellow or saffron costumes with ash smeared all over the body, dance in a frenzy carrying kavadis on their shoulders. Kavadis are colourful bow shaped wooden structures raising six to ten feet high. The ambalakavadi is structured and decorated like a temple. The pookavadi has clusters of colourful paper, cloth or plastic flowers arraigned on it. The resounding beats of percussion instruments like udukku and chenda and the nadaswaram (a wind instrument) are characteristic of the kavadi procession.
Kummatti is a ritualistic ceremony to propitiate the Devi (Goddess) where performers wearing masks and adorning garbs made of grass, dry leaves etc. go from house to house singing and dancing.
Kumbhamkali or Kumbhamthullal (pot dance) is a folk ritual dance of devotees carrying pots on the head.
Kuthiyottam is a ritual art exclusive to the Devi temples of South Kerala. A team of artists perform this song and dance ritual. The songs include those in praise of Durga and other deities, padapattu (war songs) and kalaripattu (martial art songs). Instrumental accompaniments are mainly percussions, ganjira, bells and chaplankatta. Faces are painted and red curtains are used as partitions on the stage.
Thattumelkoothu is a devotional folk art. The dance is performed on a special platform which is carried around the temple by devotees even as the performance goes on.
Poothamkali is a folk art performed in the Bhagavathy temples of Malappuram. Pootham is a character who accompanied Durga in her combat with Darika Asura. The performers, usually three in number, undergo a week of austerity before presentation. Colourful and intricately designed masks carved out of the pala and murukku trees are the highlights of the attire. The fifteen minute performance starts slowly and works up to frenzy towards the end. The thudi provides rhythm to the dance which is usually rendered at night.
Sarpa pattu or Sarpam thullal or snake dance is a ritual art performed in shrines and temples devoted to Nagaraja, the king of serpents. It is performed by women who belong to the Pulluvar caste, in a specially decorated pandal, before the sarpakalam (snake designs on the floor). The women dance in a frenzy to the rhythm of the sarpa pattu, until they fall down exhausted. The sarpa pattu is performed to the accompaniment of pulluvakudom, a stringed instrument.
Thidampu nrittam which is over 700 years old is a ritualistic art form of North Kerala. The dancer moves to the rhythmic beats of the chenda carrying the thidampu (the symbolic image of the deity) on his head. Seven artists accompany him on percussion instruments while two others hold aloft the ritualistic lamps. The artist wears much jewellery and a decorated turban known as Ushnipeetam.
Mayilnrittam or Mayilattam is a ritual art performed by artists in peacock costume. It is performed in Subramanya temples in South Kerala.
Padayani (literally, a column of army) is a colourful ritual art which is symbolic of the victory march of goddess Kali after defeating the demon Darika. The elaborate costume of this art form bears slight resemblance to Theyyam.
Thiyattu is a devotional offering to goddess Bhadrakali and Sree Ayyappa. This ritual art is performed in a specially decorated pandal, before the kalam (five colour design on the floor), nilavilakku (the traditional lamp) and peetam (stool). The performance usually starts at dusk. The artists sing and dance to the rhythmic music of the chenda, elathalam and chengila. The costumes bear resemblances to that of Ottamthullal and Kathakali. The distinctive features are huge jingling anklets and face make-up with tiny dots.
Chavittunatakam is an art form which evolved due to Portuguese influence. It developed under the auspices of the church in Kerala with the object of presenting Biblical themes. The actors stamp with their feet on wooden platforms to the tune of songs and drums. Music is important in Chavittunatakam. Stories include that of Christian saints, Charlemagne and Napoleon.
Pulikali also known as Kaduvakali is a common sight in Kerala during festive seasons. Performers painted like tigers in bright yellow, red and black, dance to the loud beats of percussion instruments like the udukku and thakil.
Thiruvathirakali is a dance form which is a pointer to the old customs followed in Nair tharawads (joint families) where the women of the house dance elegantly around the ceremonial lamp or floral decoration on festive occasions to the accompaniment of the thiruvathira pattu (song). Kummi is another form of Thiruvathirakali.
Margamkali is an art form popular among the Syrian Christians of Kerala, where twelve persons sing and dance around a nilavilakku (lamp) with eleven burning wicks. The lamp is believed to represent Christ, and the performers, His twelve disciples.
Cherumarkali is a harvest dance in which the dancers, both men and women move in a swift rhythm, linked in a back lock or holding arms. The costumes are in striking red and white.
Kolkali is a group dance form of the farming community in Kerala. Twelve to twenty four dancers move rhythmically in a circle around the ceremonial lamp, tapping the two feet long wooden sticks held in their hands.
Vadithallu is almost similar to Kolkali and is a folk dance in which artists tap the short sticks held in both hands.