Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Dance and Songs of Irular

Irular is an ethnic group lives mainly in Attappady, Perinthalmanna and Chittoor regions in Palakkad district of Kerala. A tribal group, who has their own lifestyle, less concerned about the outside world, worships Nature as Gods. Besides Nature, Irular worships Lord Shiva, Goddess Bhadrakali and many other tribal deities like Bairamma, Mariyamma, Ellamma etc. The priest of Irular is known as Mannookkaran.   They also possess various superstitious beliefs and also believe the presence of spirits in humans and objects.

Irulars treasure and preserve variety and colourful art forms which are related to various rituals. Mattu Pongal is the common festival observed by the Irulars and Kurumbalam is an art form related to agricultural practices and also performed for marriage functions. They also have ritual dance and music to accompany death rites and which will be sung in circle by both men and women. Irular has a wealthy collection of songs for various dances and some among them are Dunpattu, Odayooru, Thekkumala and Valli Valli

Another popular dance is the Elelam Karady, also known as the dance of bears and is related to the hunting tradition of them. This art form symbolizes the fight of the people against wild bears which often attack their habitat.  

Pori (an instrument similar to Maddalam), Peeki (a wind instrument), Maram (a drum like instrument) are the common musical instruments used by Irular for their dance and songs.

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