In the Alleppey district of southern Kerala, the Nair community traditionally perform the Velakali dance. It is generally performed at the time of temple festivals held from March to May. But the most important and impressive performance of the dance is presented at the time of the ten-day Utsavam festival held in honor of Lord Padmanabhaswami of Thiruvantapuram. Some hereditary families of the Nair community have exclusive rights to perform in front of the temple at the time of Utsavam which is held in the lunar month of Phalguna corresponding to March/April. Velakali is customarily danced under the supervision of Mathu Pamkkar. Before the dancing begins, a flourish of trumpets and kettle-drums gives the call. The dance has elements of theater, since it depicts the fight between the Kauravas and Pandavas of the epic poem Mahabharata. The dancers represent the Kauravas. The Pandavas are represented not by men but by dummy figures. The dancers dance around these dummies flourishing the sword and shield held in their hands. The symbolic fight lasts for about an hour during which the dancers dance and jump vigorously around the dummies. Since the Pandavas were the victors, the dancers at the end of the dance retreat hastily to the steps of the temple. This kind of enactment is riot done in front of smaller temples in the district of Alleppy. There, the dance does not have the grandeur of the Velakali performed in Thiruvantapuram.
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