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Sarpam Thullal in Kerala – Ritualistic Dance Dedicated to Snake Gods

Sarpam Thullal in Kerala is a ritualistic dance dedicated to Snake Gods. In Sarpam Thullak girls perform a ritual dance and crawl like snakes on a decorated floor unbinding their hair to the tunes of the songs and music instruments played generally by Pulluva clan members. But like many traditional art forms, Sarpam Thullal too is slowly disappearing due to lack of patronage.
The New Indian Express reports
‘Sarpam Thullal’, a unique form of mystical ritual for propitiating snake Gods,is slowly losing its sheen owing to the lack of patronage from the public and authorities concerned apart from the paucity of artists to perform and preserve the centuries-old art.‘Sarpam Thullal’ is conducted during the traditional festivals like ‘Ayilya Maholsavam’, a ritual performed on ‘Ayilyam’ star of the local almanac every year in sacred groves and temples dedicated for snake gods. Though the ritual is still prevalent in temples like Sree Pambu Kavu Sree Nagaraja Temple, Parappur Ngathankovil, Pambu Mekkattu, Mala, and Pathira Kunnu Mana at Cherpulassery and other temples and scared groves in parts of the state, it don’t get enough patronage and trained artists to sustain.“Earlier, the artists used to draw around 30 types of ‘sarppakalams’ (a pictorial drawing depicting the images of gods on the floor) and a total of 240 different other ‘kalams’. Now it is has been shrunken to only handful of Kalams,” former Kerala Lalithakala Akademi secretary T A Sathyapalan, who penned a book titled ‘Kalamezhuthu - a ritual art practice of Kerala’, said. 
“In 2008, I made an attempt to document the primitive art by organising 45-day-long camp for these traditional artists and they had drawn around 140 ‘kalams’ which have been documented as part of an attempt to hands down the knowledge on various designs of Kalams to next generation. “But of late, it has been found that the artists are not even drawing the documented ‘kalams’ as well,” he said. “In recent times, many of communities like Mannan, Velan, Kuruppan, who were practising the art form,  were forced to take up other jobs to sustain their lives,” Suresh Koothuparamba, vice-chairman of the Kerala Folklore Academy, said.