Usually performed by the “Saint Thomas Christians” in south of India is a dance form known as Margamkali. The dance has been developed by the “Syrian Catholics” in the state in Kerala having been heavily inspired by the evangelistic activities carried out by “Thomas, the Apostle” in the state. According to a historical fact, there exist not one but few versions that explain the creation of this dance form. In addition, it is also said that this dance style underwent three important stages in its evolution. Furthermore, such has been the growth in the relevance of this dance to the culture of the state that, as of today it has been included in the “State Youth Festival of Kerala”.

a. History/origin of Margamkali:

Historically speaking, there are three versions that explain the creation of this unique dance form. They are as follows:

1. Version No 1:

Apparently it was from elements found in the wedding song and dance belonging to the Malabar Jewish community that this style was developed organically.

2. Version No 2:

It is said that this style was organically developed using a dance belonging to the “Brahmin community” called “Sangam Kali”.

3. Version No 3:

A form of performing art known as “Yathra Kali” was used as a template to create this dance form.

b. Costumes used in the Margamkali:

This dance currently is performed both by males as well as females, and so the costume used varies according to the gender as follows:

1. Males:

The attire includes a traditional white dhoti called “mundu”, a vest, a white cloth tied around the head, and a red cloth tied around the waist.

2. Females:

The costume includes a white saree comprising of a red and gold border, and a blouse known as “Chatta”.

c. Music involved in the Margamkali:

The music used in this dance form (unlike many others) is extremely minimal, and the major instrument used is a pair of cymbals. Furthermore, the simplistic music composed for this dance form is accompanied by singing.

d. Training availability and the dance technique involved in the Margamkali:

In this dance style, the performers arrange themselves in a circle with a lamp (representing Jesus) placed in the centre. It is around this lamp that the dancers then rhythmically swirl around to the beats of the music and the song sung by the leader of the particular group who is referred to as “Asan”. In addition, while dancing the performers also clap their hands. In terms of the training being provided in this dance style, there are unfortunately no schools/centres available, since it has essentially been created and passed on for years from one generation to another mainly within the “Syrian Catholic community”.

image credit

Translate »