Mohiniyattam The Classical Dance of India


Mohiniyattam is one of the eight classical dance performances of India. Which belongs to Kerala. The word Mohiniyattam derived from the words Mohini means a beautiful girl and Attam means dance. So the classical dance is a beautiful feminine style with the singing flow of the body movements. First of all, the classical dance was the tradition of Devadasi system, later developed as a classical dance.


According to a puranic story, once Lord Shiva fell into danger from the demon Bhasmasura. Then Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva. Then Mohini performed the dance and made Bhasmasura perform as her and finally infuse the demon to kill himself. Mohini performed this classical dance so that the dance is being called Mohiniyattam. Therefore Lord Vishnu was the founder of this classical dance Mohiniyattam. Since Devadasis used to perform this classical dance in temples.


The Female Dancers:

This classical dance focuses mainly on feminine moods and emotions. The dedicated body movements and subtle fad expressions caused more feminine in nature so it suites for performance by women. The theme of Mohiniyattam is based on love. During the dance, the love expressed with suggestive abhinaya, subtle gestures, rhythms, footwork. In the dance approximately 40 basic movements, which atavukal.


The dancers dress also involved in the traditional concept. The dancers wear white sari embroidered with bright golden brocade at the edges. The dancer’s hair gathered in a bun and decorated with jasmine flower. Wear gold jewellery including necklaces, bangles, wristbands and anklets.  The dancers follow Hasta Lakshanadeepika, which contains the elaborate description of gestural expressions by the hand palm and fingers. These called Mudras. The lyrics are vocalizing with the combination of Malayalam and Sanskrit.

History of Mohiniyattam Dance:

The dance Mohiniyattam history found in the texts of eighteen century. The classical dance flourished during Maharaja Swathi TIrunal region in the 19th century. Maharaja Tirunal the great lover of art and dance, composed himself many musical and vocal arrangements to enrich the dance and attract the spectators. The musical and vocal arrangements provide musical background for the Mohiniyattam dancers.

Modern Time Developments:

The great poet Vallathol established the Kerala Kalamandalam in 1930 and promoted Mohiniyattam dance. He did great work of recodified the classical dance to bring enormous popularity among other classical dances.

The classical dance episodes adopted from the Indian epic story. Veena and Mridangam are the main musical instruments, which used during the dance performance. The dancer performs according to the music and vocal sound, move the hands and show the expressions on the face rhythmically and appease the audience.