Performing Arts >Arjuna Nritham

Arjuna Nritham

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.


Contributed by: Neethu, CEE Kannur Field Office

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Muslin Fabric

This gossamer light muslin fabric has found mention in the writings of many visitors to India, even as far back as the 3rd century B.C. A great deal of muslin was produced in and exported from Bengal. Dacca was the main region where cotton was cultivated due to the high humidity of the region, which prevented the delicate thread from breaking on contact with the air. The cotton spun was very white since the Brahmaputra and the Ganges Rivers have bleaching properties. The chikan workers in Bengal used this fine muslin for embroidery.

Stitches in Chikankari

Double-Star Earring, Peacock Feather's Eye, Sidhual, Makra, Mandarzi, Bulbulchashm, Tajmahal, Phooljali, Phanda, Dhoom, Gol, murri, Janjeera, Keel, Kangan, Bakhia, Dhania Patti, lambi Murri, Kapkapi, Karan Phool, Bijli, Ghaspatti, Rozan, Meharki, Kaj, Chameli, Chane ki Patti, Balda, Jora, Pachni, Tapchim Kauri, Hathkati and Daraj of various types.