A festival of drums with a message

The banks of the Bharathapuzha at Perumparamba, near Edappal, are set to reverberate with the sounds of the largest traditional percussion ensemble in Kerala.


  • Literally meaning an orchestra of five instruments, is basically a temple art form that has evolved in Kerala.
  • Of the five instruments, four – timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka – belong to thepercussion category, while the fifth, kombu, is a wind instrument.
  • Panchavadyam is characterised by a pyramid-like rhythmic structure with a constantly increasing tempo coupled with a proportional decrease in the number of beats in cycles.


  • It is a type of solo chenda.
  • A Chenda is a cylindrical wooden drum, and has a length of two feet and a diameter of one foot.
  • It is a performance that developed in Kerala, in which the main player at the centre improvises rhythmically on the beats of half-a-dozen or a few more chenda and ilathalam players around.


  • Mizhavu is a big copper drum played as an accompanying percussion instrument in the Koodiyattam and Koothu, performing arts of Kerala.
  • It is played by the Ambalavasi Nambiar community.
  • After 1965, the cast barrier having broken, anyone can play mizhavu in koodiyattam.


  • It is a form of Sanskrit theatre traditionally performed in the state of Kerala.
  • It is officially recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
  • It is the only surviving specimen of the ancient Sanskrit theatre.
  • It finds several mentions in ancient sangam literature.


  • Koothu is an informal dance structure, which originated in Tamil land.
  • The performances generally depict scenes from ancient epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha and other classical epics.
  • There are traditionally no dialogues, instead only songs.

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