Margomkali Dance performed in Kerala is a ritual folk art of the Syrian Christians of Kottayam and Thrissur region in Kerala. In the Margomkali Dance there are about a dozen dancers who dance around the Nilavilakku which is lighted wick lamp which is a traditional symbol of Kerala.Adorned in their pristine white dhotis and a peacock feather on their turbans the Margomkali Dance is all about worshipping the Christ.The word `Margam` means path or way, religion or creed. The real source of inspiration for the performance of Margam Kali was Kalaripayattu, which was very popular when the Christian community had developed the form. This dance consists of several other group dances and martial arts like Parichamuttu Kali.They perform the dance wearing the traditional white dhoti and a peacock feather on the turban. Though performed by men in olden days, now a days it is performed by female dancers in a simple white dhoti, chatta (a white blouse with long sleeves) and neryathu - the three piece traditional Syrian Christian attire.It is believed the Nilavilakku or the lamp is Christ and the dancers which surround it are his disciples. They worship Jesus Christ in this way. The dance form shows a beautiful blend of Christianity with traditional art forms of Kerala.The origin of the dance form can be traced to the time of Portuguese invasion and much before that. Margomkali Dance also depicts the life and works of St. Thomas who arrived during 52 A.D. it was during this time that many of the Keralites took up Christianity and it blended with the local culture and rituals.

There is a traditional text which accompanies the Margamkali. It is in 14 strophes and has about 450 lines. This song is said to be of a period older than the Portuguese invasion of Kerala. The narration is not accompanied by any musical instrument. This is the song dance part of the art form. The song is sun by the leader of the troupe called the “Asan”. Traditionally the Margamkali was the recreation or activity which helped the Christian soldiers pass time. Recently however, it is almost a compulsory performance in Syriac Christian weddings and such occasions. Traditionally it was an art performed by men only. Nowadays it is also performed by women and on stage and school competitions etc.




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