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Gandharvan Thullal Dance In Kerala

Gandharvan Thullal is an ancient art form associated with Hindu religion in Kerala. It is believed that it was performed to alleviated the troubles created by Ithi Badakal (people possessed by spirits). Gandharvan Thullal is very rarely performed today.

In ancient times, it was performed in temples, rich houses or in Brahmin households. The performance and rules varies from region to region within Kerala. The ritual is performed by Ganaka community especially by Kuruppanmar.

The main events in Gandharvan Thullal include drawing (kalamezhuthu), songs accompanied by music, dance and Thullal by assistants of the main conductor. The picture that is drawn is that of Chitraradhan who is the king of Gandharvas. In some regions, alogn with Gandharva the drawing of yakshi is also made.

 The materials used to make the drawing are aripodi (rice powder), karipodi (burnt black rice husk powder), manjal podi (turmeric powder), and red powder or chuvappu podi made by mixing lime (chunnambu) and turmeric powder. The green color powder is made rice powder mixed with juice of leaves of manjadi plant or vaka plant.

Once the drawing or kalamezhuthu is finished, Kuruppanmar sits in front of the kalam or drawing and sings keerthanas and thottam pattukal in praise of gods and goddesses from Hindu pantheon. By the end of the singing, the assistants start dancing as if possessed by spirits (thullal).

The person dancing moves towards the person who is possessed by spirit. The dancer puts akshat on the head of the person, lights pantham, performs bali thooval and breaks a coconut. It is believed that spirits will the person after this ritual.

In some regions, unhusked rice (nellu), rice, flowers, and water are together poured on the head of person possessed by spirits.

At the end of the ritual, the drawing, except for head, is rubbed using a coconut flower (pookkula). The head portion of the drawing is rubbed using hand.