Mohini Attam


(Dance of the enchantress! Mohini Attam.)

Since Kathakali was a jealously guarded male preserve, Mohini Attam was specially created for women. 'Mohini' is a mythological beauty who reigns supreme in grace, enchantment and pure aesthetic pleasure. Mohini Attam, is the dance of an enchant-
ress who causes havoc and destruction to the wicked and great delight and pleasure to the good. Thus, Mohini stands for a kind of delusion, enchantment or infatuation resulting from the vision of a dazzling beauty.

There is a well known story of Lord Vishnu taking on the guise of a 'Mohini' to enthrall people. Thus it is thought that Vaishnava devotees gave the name of Mohiniyattam to this dance form.

This female semi-classical dan-
ce form of Kerala is said to be older than Kathakali. Literally, the dance of the enchantress, Mohiniyattam was mainly per-
formed in the temple precincts of Kerala. It is also the heir to Devadasi dance heritage like Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi and Oddissi.

Mohiniyattam like many other forms follows the Hastha Lak-
shanadeepika
, as a text book for Mudras, or hand gestures. The style of vocal music for Mohiniyattam as is generally seen, is classical Karnatic. The lyrics composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal and Irayimman Thampi are in Manipravala (a mixture of Sanskrit and Malaya-
lam). Till recently, Thoppi Mad-
dalam and Veena provided the background music of Mohini-
yattam.
These have been repl-
aced in recent years by Mridangam and Violin. Edakka was also used for Mohini-
yattam
for a long time which reminds of a temple ceremony.



Mohini Attam Page.

The theme of Mohiniyattam is love and devotion to god. In format, this is similar to Bharatanatyam. The movements are graceful like Odissi and the costumes sober and attractive. It is essentially a solo dance, but in present times it is performed in groups also. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam follows closely that of Bharatanatyam. Begin-
ning with Cholkettu, the dancer performs Jathiswaram, Varnam, Padam and Thillana in a concert. Varnam combines pure and expressional dance, while Padam tests the histrionic talent of a dancer and Thillana exposes her technical artistry.

The basic dance steps are the Adavus which are of four kinds: Taganam, Jaganam, Dhaganam and Sammisram. These names are derived from the nomenclature called Vaittari.


Mudra ||  4000 years old! ||  Dance of Shiva ||  Bharatanatyam ||  Kathak ||  Kuchipudi ||  Kathakali || 
Mohini Attam ||  Odissi ||  Manipuri ||  Bibliography ||