Pic courtesy: Flickr: achuudayasanan

Mudiyett is a traditional ritual theatre and folk dance-drama from Kerala that enacts the mythological tale of a battle between the goddess Kali and the demon Darika. This dance is performed in the temples of the Mother Goddess, in different villages during the month February and May. Mudiyett was selected as the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. After Koodiyattam, Mudiyett is the second dance form in Kerala

The story behind the history of Mudiyettu is Darika was a demon who received a boon from Brahma which granted him that he would never be defeated by any man living in any worlds of Hindu mythology. It made Darika immensely powerful and arrogant. Darika went on to conquer the world defeating even Indra, the king of the gods.  When his mayhems became intolerable, the sage Narada bade Shiva stop Darika. Shiva agreed. He declared that Darika would be killed by the goddess Kali, she is a woman and not the one born among the humans.

Mudiyett is a village ritual performed by members of the Marar and Kuruppu communities in Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Idukki districts of Kerala. The entire community contributes to and participates in it. It helps to promote unity between the communities.

There is no rehearsal or preparation involved in playing Kali. The performance is a natural progression from Lord Shiva, Narada, demons Danavan and Darikan to Kali. Mudiyettu performance requires 16 persons— percussionists, Kalamezhuthu artists, vocalists.  There are also obvious local alterations in the apparel and recital graces of Mudiyettu. In the Koratty style, Kali exhibits a bare torso, covered only by a breast-shaped plank while in the Keezhillam and the Pazhoor styles, she wears a full upper body dress. Similarly, in the Koratty style, Darika’s mudi resembles the Kathakali crown and his face paint the Kathi Veshas of Kathakali.

Mudiyettu is a common task in which each caste of the village plays a specific role. The bamboo articles and leather hides for drums are provided by the Parayan caste while the Thandan caste brings the areca nut fronds that are required for the masks and headgears. The Ganakan community paints the masks while the Kuruvan community keeps the country torches burning. It is the Veluthedan caste that washes the clothes used for making the deity’s dress while the Maran caste readies the torches and keeps them supplied with oil.