Another fascinating dance tradition of the South, especially of Tamil Nadu, is Karagam (pronounced as Kardgam). In this dance also a pitcher is used as a ritual object and the dance is accompanied by a procession. In fact, throughout India in many a ritual and folk dances pitcher is used. It is because in pauranic (old) literature, especially in Bhagavat Puran, the human body is likened to an earthen pitcher since both are fragile. The water with which the pitcher is filled symbolizes life. In many forms of pooja (worship) a mangal kalash (auspicious pitcher) is sanctified at the beginning of the worship. This ritual symbolizes the ritualisation of the body of the worshipper. In Karagam, the main dancer balances on his head a pitcher filled with uncooked rice and water. Here the rice symbolizes food that sustains life and therefore sacred. The pitcher is mounted by a conical bamboo frame decorated with flowers. The dance begins from a place in the village which is considered auspicious. A procession follows the dancers. They go to the temple of Mariamman, the goddess of health and rain. She is the protector from the dreaded small pox and cholera. It is traditionally performed in August. The dance has interesting elements of acrobatics. The orchestra that accompanies the dance is called Niyandi Melam. It consists of Thavil, the drum, Nadaswaram, reeled wind instrument, Muni, Udukkai, Pambai, various types of drums etc. Earlier only male dancers were performing this dance. Nowadays female dancers also participate.
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