A famous mask dance of Kerala. It is common in Thrissur District, Palakkad District and parts of South Malabar. Thrissur district is known as the origin place of Kummatti dance forms. During the festival of Onam, Kummattikali dancers move from house to house collecting small gifts. Viewers make Kummatti happy by giving rice, jaggery, and cash. The original form of Kummattikali is seen at the Bhadrakali temple in Palakkad district.
The performers wear a massively painted colorful wooden mask. Jack fruit tree, Alstonia Scholaris, Hog Plum tree or Coral tree are used to make these masks. Face masks depict faces of Krishna, Narada, Kiratha, Darika, or hunters.
The performers wear skirts made out of weaved grass and some cover their whole body with bunches of grass for a more bushy look. In addition, dancers also hold long sticks of residuary agricultural produce called ‘Kummattikali’. Their dance is similar to Shaiva myth. ‘Thamma’ (an old woman) walks in front with the help of a stick. Thamma comes with toothless and wide open mouth to entertain people. In addition, Thamma is symbolic of the mother of every being.
Most of all, Onavillu plays devotional theme songs to Kummatti kali. Onavillu is a bow like an instrument, which is a string instrument made from Kavungu (Areca Nut tree). A thin bamboo stick generates sound from Onavillu.
Kummattikali dancers require no formal training, and often the viewers also join in the dance. Furthermore, now we can also see children’s Kummatti tradition. Children decorate their faces with bright colors, and dance led by male dancers.
Photo Courtesy: upload.wikimedia.org, Kizhakkumpattukara In.