Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Velakali is a ritualistic martial art form performed by men in some of the temples of southern Kerala. Velakali originated in Ambalappuzha where Mathoor Panicker, chief of the Chempakasserri army, to boost the martial spirit of the people.  

Dancers wear colourful and attractive costumes similar to that of the Nair soldiers of the olden days. The dancers carry a painted shield in the left hand and a stick (Churikakkol) in their right hand and the performance resembles the actions in a battle. Percussion instruments like Thakil, Shudhamaddalam, Ilathalam, Kombu, and Kuzhal are used.

The Velakali is performed  Ambalappuzha Sree Krishna Swamy Temple during the annual festivites,  Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram, Mavelikkara Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, Harippad Subramanya Swamy Temple and Cherthala Bhagavathi Temple.

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