Arjuna nritham (the dance of Arjuna) is a ritual art performed by men in the Bhagavathy temples of Kottayam and Alleppey districts of Kerala. Arjuna, considered the most handsome of the Pandava brothers, was believed to have been trained in music and dance by the celestial nymphs. After the Kurukshetra war, it is said that he performed this dance to propitiate the goddess Bhadrakali.
Arjuna nritham is also called Mayilppeeli nritham (mayil = peacock; peeli = feather) or peacock feather dance as the lower garment worn by the dancer is made of peacock feathers. The dancers also paint their faces green using vegetable dyes and wear headgear.
This dance is performed by male dancers, either solo or in pairs. The songs to which they dance are called kavithangal and the themes are from Hindu mythology. Their performances are highly rhythm based to the accompaniment of several percussion instruments like maddalam, chenda and cymbals. The dancer explains the subtleties of the performance before each song begins. The dance movements and style resemble the martial art form of Kerala, kalaripayattu.