Mannankoothu is a unique ritual art form performed by the Adivasi community of Mannans in the Idukki district. It narrates the tale of Kannaki and Kovilan of the famous Chilapathikaaram.
The art form is staged mainly during worship, harvest times and weddings. Performed at night, it has three characters named Pen Koothadi, Aan Koothadi and Komali.
An attractive and vibrant art form, Mannankoothu shares similarities with Kathakali, the classical dance-drama of Kerala. Like Kathakali, Mannankoothu has performances like Kelikottu (announcement before the performance) and for this, the performers use Charal (an instrument made of animal skin) and Maddalam (a percussion instrument).
Women are not allowed to perform, and men enact the roles of women characters in the play. They use a mixture made of rice flour and oil for facial make-up.
Ardent devotees of Madhura Meenakshi, the Mannan community of Kerala has a well-established administration when compared to other tribal communities of the state. They even have a King as their head and Kovil Mala is the King's headquarters. They continue these unique customs and traditions even today.
Like other tribal communities, Mannans also have several colourful festivals.
To watch Mannankoothu, check https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2i014mAlv0