Kombu is a temple – based instrument of Kerala. Literally meaning horn, this instrument is a C- shaped wind instrument made of brass or copper. As it is in the shape of the horns of animals, the instrument came to be known as Kombu. The shrill blare of the kombu help in subduing the pitch of the other instruments, thereby elevating it to a grand position among other instruments. Starting with a small hole at one end, the width increases and gives it the shape of a loud speaker.
The Kombu comprises three parts and all the three parts are tightly fixed together at the time of blowing. With one hand on the ‘murad’ and the other holding the curved part, the artiste blows the Kombu. This requires breath control and strict experience.
Layavinyasam on Kombu is Kombu pattu. When the idol is taking in an elephant procession, the Kombu is blown as an indication. And at that time riders of elephants with the idol sways the Venjamaram and Alavattam. Part of Panchavadya ensemble, kombu is also played during religious precessions.
Due to the shape of animal horns, it is called kombu (in Malayalam it means horns). Kombu is very popular in Nepal as an instrument. So it is said that, Kombu came to Kerala during the period when Buddhism was flourished in the State.