Sarpam Thullal

A spectacular ritual performance, Sarpam Thullal is done to appease the snake gods and thereby to bring prosperity to the family. Specific offerings are made to the snake deities as part of this. A colourful Kalam (drawing on the ground using colour powder) is drawn in the courtyard of the house and figures of Nagayakshi and Ashtanagakkettu are featured. These Kalams are full of intricate designs. Two girls are made to sit in front of the Kalam and songs are sung with the accompaniment of Pulluvankkudam, Pulluvan Veena and Ila Thalam. As the songs progress, the girls get captivated by the rhythm and atmosphere and begin to make serpent-like movements. The final stages of the trancelike dance are a violent frenzy of rhythmic fervour in the climax of which the girls erase the Kalam with flower bunches.

Sung as part of a ceremony called Sarpam Thullal followed by the Hindu community in Kerala, the songs involved at a particular stage of the ceremony are sung in praise of various serpent gods. Performed by the members of the Pulluva community, Kalam Pattu, songs rendered during the course of Sarpam Thullal ceremony are sung by the Pulluvan (male member of the Pulluva community) and Pulluvathi (female member of the Pulluva community). The songs are usually accompanied by musical instruments viz. Pulluvakudam and Nanduni, both of which are string instruments with peculiar shapes.

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