A fascinating dance of Tamil Nadu is Pinnal Kolattam. In this dance a number of differently colored ribbons hand down suspended from a fixture. The lower end of each ribbon is held by a dancer. Dancers holding the ribbons dance and move in such a way that a beautiful symmetrical braid of the ribbons gradually takes shape. Both melodic and percussion music accompany the dance with indigenous instruments.
The martial dance of Tamil Nadu is called Silambattam. The dancers do mock combat with various weapons, such as sticks, clubs, sword, horns, daggers etc, one kind of weapon at a time. The mock combat is done in pairs. In fact, a kind of competition takes place between the combating pairs. The dancer who outsmarts the opponent dancer is lustily cheered by the audience. The drum music for the dance is provided by Sendai Melam, i.e. group of three to four drummers playing the drum Sendai in unison.
In Tamil Nadu the frame drum is called Tappettai. It is larger in size and is played both by hand and stick. Although the Tappettai dance is performed all over the state, it is mote popular in the districts of Salem, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Coimbatore. Generally the dance is performed at the time of temple festivals.
Kakali-kattai is a form of stilt dance prevalent in the North Arcot district of Tamil Nadu. The dance has religious associations since it is traditionally performed during a festival held in honor of Mariamma, the mother goddess. The dance is named after the stilt which is called kokali-kattai. It is about three feet high and is tied to each foot of the dancer. Jingle bells are also tied to each stilt. One has to put in arduous training and practice to become a Kokali-kattai dancer since the dance demands acrobatic skill.
In stilt dances prevalent in other regions of the country, the stick of the stilts extends upward to be
held by the dancer with his hands. In Kakali-kattai the stilts are tied to the feet of the dancers and not held at all, which makes it far more difficult. The only musical instrument that provides rhythmic inspiration to the dancers is a large frame drum called Tappettai.