Chavittukali is a folk dance of Kerala that is staged during festivals like Onam, Vishu and in certain temple fairs. Popular in central Kerala and Malappuram, the art form is performed by Ullada, Oorali, Cherumar and Kanakkaar communities. Both men and women participate in this art form which is rich in enthusiasm and festive spirit. Chavittukali is similar to Kolkali, the only difference being that it does not require sticks as in the latter.
Called a common man’s art form, Chavittukali doesn’t demand any special attire, and dancers wear their everyday dress. Usually, the number of performers range between 10 and 12, but it can go up to 30 or more in temple festivals. The leader of the group is called Guruvan while other performers are called Kalimakkal. The area where the art form is staged is called Kalivattom and the performers dance around a traditional lamp called Nilavilakku, that is lit and placed at the centre. The dance progresses with hand gestures, clapping and rhythmic steps in a circle.
The songs in the art form are based on mythological themes or about certain great individuals. The dancers themselves render the songs and there are no accompanying instruments. It is said that the Oorali community uses instruments to accompany the songs while the rest of the communities do not. Even though the rhythm is uniform throughout the dance, the dance steps are different.