Concept

Mohiniyattam

Summary
Mohiniyattam (മോഹിനിയാട്ടം) is an Indian classical dance form that developed and remained popular in the state of Kerala. Kathakali is another classical dance form of Kerala. Mohiniyattam dance gets its name from the word Mohini – a historical enchantress avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu, who helps the good prevail over evil by developing her feminine powers. Mohiniyattam's roots, like all classical Indian dances, are in the Natya Shastra – the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text on performance arts. However, it follows the Lasya style described in Natya Shastra, that is a dance which is delicate, eros-filled and feminine. It is traditionally a solo dance performed by women after extensive training, though nowadays men can also perform the dance. The repertoire of Mohiniyattam includes music in the Carnatic style, singing and acting a play through the dance, where the recitation may be either by a separate vocalist or the dancer themselves. The song is typically in Malayalam-Sanskrit hybrid called Manipravalam. The earliest mention of the word is found in the 16th-century legal text Vyavaharamala, but the likely roots of the dance are older. The dance was systematized in the 18th century, was ridiculed as a Devadasi prostitution system during the colonial British Raj, banned by a series of laws from 1931 through 1938, a ban that was protested and partially repealed in 1940. The socio-political conflict ultimately led to renewed interest, revival and reconstruction of Mohiniyattam by the people of Kerala, particularly the poet Vallathol Narayana Menon. Mohiniyattam, also referred to as Mohini-attam, is derived from "Mohini" – a famous female avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in Indian mythology. Mohini refers to a divine enchantress or a supreme seductress. She appears in Hindu mythologies during a battle between Devas (good) and Asuras (evil), after the evil had won control of Amrita (nectar of immortality). Appearing in her youthful bloom, dressed rapturously she uses her charms to seduce the Asuras, who seeking her favors, give her the Amrita to distribute among the evil forces.
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