Tirayattam is a fascinating form of ritual dance of Kerala. According to local myths Bhagavati, the mother-goddess and Lord Shiva take various incarnations to terminate the demonic forces. The dancers impersonate the various incarnations of the god and goddess. When a dancer wears the complete highly stylized make-up and equally colorful costume, he is called by the generic name of kolam. Some of the Shaivite kolams are : Bhairavan, Ghantakaran, Kayatan, etc. Some of the Bhagavati kolams are : Bhadrakali, Bhairavi, Odakali, Rakteshvari, etc. Each important kolam is presented by in 3 stages of development. The childhood phase when presented by a kolam it is called Vellattam. The phase of old age is called Chantattam. The most important phase is the youth which is known as Tirayattam. Before the Tirayattam begins there is a musical prologue. The music of drums and cymbals which is played first is called Tayambaka. Next comes the Kuzhalpoot music of the reeled pipes after which the Tirayattam begins. It is a dance form which has powerful dramatic elements.
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