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A popular form of entertainment among the mappila community of north Kerala. Presented generally by the women it is a ritual full of song and dance. It resembles the Kaikottikkalli practiced by women in Kerala. But it has more resemblance to the song and dance ritual prevalent in Arabian countries. In this dance form the women numbering about fifteen including musicians, on a wedding day, swing their bodies in a dance performance. The bride dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments and her palms and feet adorned with an intricately woven pattern of mylanchi (henna), sits amidst the circle of dancers on a high seat called the peetam. While the dancers sing they clap their hands rhythmically and move around the bride in simple steps. Two or three girls will begin the song and soon the rest of the team joins in chorus. The dance goes far into the night. Sometimes a type of Oppana called Oppana Chayal is performed that does not involve the clapping of hands. The other type of Oppana is Oppana Murukkam.

The name oppana is believed to have been originated from the Arabic word Afna. The theme of the songs is usually teasing comments and insinuations to the marital bliss and the shy bride’s emotions. The language is a combination of Arabic and Malayalam. Though the dance is usually performed to denote the nuptial celebrations it can also be held on the circumcision of boys, first menstruation of girls, and ceremonial bath of woman on the 14th day after parturition etc. A different version is performed in the house of the bridegroom on the eve of the marriage in witch his friends stand and sing in praise of the bridegroom. In these cases it is performed before leaving for the bride’s place. Harmonium, Tamburine and Tabla are the instruments generally used in oppana.

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