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Tourism > India > Tamil Nadu >Music and Dance

Music and Dance

Dance of Tamil NaduTamilnadu is deeply rooted in a great tradition of folk arts and crafts, which display the traditions and skills that have come down from generations. The folk music and dances of Tamil Nadu represent the ethos, aesthetic values and melody of the region. Traditionally, folk dances and music are conducted during festivals and community functions. The following paragraphs dwell in length about music and dance of Tamil Nadu.


Karagaattam is a popular folk dance of Tamil Nadu, which involves balancing a pot on the head with musical accompaniment. The pots are decorated with a cone of flower arrangements, topped by a paper parrot. The parrot swings as the dancer swings along. Villagers perform this dance in praise of the rain goddess Mari Amman and river goddess, Gangai Amman. Karagaattam has two divisions- Aatta Karagam and Sakthi Karagam. This form of dance is very popular all over Tamilnadu. Both male and female performers participate in this dance. Acrobatics such as dancing on a rolling block of wood, moving up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backwards form a part of this dance.

Kaavadi Aatam

When the ancient Tamils went on pilgrimage, they used to carry offerings to the gods tied on either end of a long stick, balanced on their shoulders. To lessen the boredom of the long travel they used to sing and dance in praise of the gods. Kavadi Aattam traces its origin to this practice. This led to composition of special songs for carrying the Kavadi. The Kavadi is made of bamboo strips and a light pole.

Poikkal Kudirai Aattam (Dummy Horse Dance)

Poikkal Kudirai Aattam is a Dummy Horse dance in which the dancer puts on the dummy figure of a horse on his/her hips. This folk dance needs a lot of training and skill. The dummy is made of lightweight materials and the cloth at the sides of the dummy swings to and fro covering the legs of the dancer. The dancer has to don wooden legs so that the legs look like the hooves of the horse. While performing the dance, the dancer brandishes either a sword or a whip.

Bommalaattam or Puppetry

Bommalaattam or Puppetry dance shows are held in rural areas of Tamil Nadu during festivals and fairs. Skilled puppeteers manipulate the puppets through strings or wires. They stand behind a screen and the puppets are held in front. The puppetry shows depict stories mainly from the puranas, epics and folklore.


Therukoothu is usually conducted during village festivals in the months of Panguni and Aadi. Therukoothu is performed on the streets and in open air. In this dance form, make-up and costumes are considered vary important. It is an all male dance as the males play the female roles as well. The performance involves story telling, songs, dance and dialogue rendering. The performances are based on stories from Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and the local folklore.


It is a martial art form, practiced from the days of the Tamil Kings. It has metamorphosed into a non-violent form of folk dance, adding stepping styles into the dance following the measure of time. This martial art form also teaches the performer the methods of self-defense in modern day world.

Villu Paattu

Villu Paattu is a popular folk art form, which appeals the rural and the urban communities alike. In this folk art a chorus, musical instrument and a main instrument (Villu or Bow, fixed with bells) accompany the main singer. The Villu is struck rhythmically when the bells jingle in tune. The main singer narrates a tale, accompanied by some lively songs.

Snake Dance

The snake dance is yet another popular dance of Tamil Nadu. It arises mainly from the popularity of the snake as a protecting divinity that safeguards the health and happiness of the rural folk. Young girls, dressed in a tight- fitting snakeskin like costume, usually perform the snake dance. Here, the dancer stimulates the movements of snake, writhing and creeping and making quick biting movements.

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