The para resembles a veekan chenda, but is larger in size. Some claim that the Parayar community derived its name as they play para. Members of the Paraya community used to perform the rituals parathattiyothuka and parakkeezhu cholluka.
The instrument is also called veeravadyam or veera madhalam. It is played by using sticks on both sides. The perumbara used for royal proclamations is another version of the para.