Kerala is home to many artforms that have elements of the great heritage, rare traditions and unique customs of God’s Own Country. Among them, the ritual arts stand apart with their celebration of mysticism and cultural vibrance.
Garudan Parava is one such ritual artform popular in the central part of Kerala. It is conducted mostly in Bhadrakali temples situated in Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Idukki districts.
Garuda is the eagle-mount of Lord Vishnu, and according to a myth, Lord Vishnu sent Garuda to quench the thirst of Goddess Kali after she slayed the demon king Darika in a fiercely-fought battle. The ritual is conducted as an offering to Goddess Kali by her devotees. In this ritual art, men dressed up as Garuda perform a ritualistic dance to the accompaniment of traditional musical instruments such as Chenda, Elathalam, Kombu, etc. The performance incorporates 18 thalavattam (rhythmic patterns).
Magnificent makeup, vibrant costumes and resplendent headgear turn nondescript figures to majestic performers. Only natural pigments like Vellamanayola, Pacha, Chuvappu and Mashi are used for facial makeup. Besides this, Pattuvaal, Njori, Kacha, Mundi, Astimala (garlands made from the wood of Mango Tree), Chamaram (false hair), Chiraku (wings), Uttareeyam (upper garment), Kireedam (crown), etc. are used to complete the costume of Garuda.
The Garudan Parava performer appears to be in a trance, as he dances to the rhythmic beat of percussions, creating an aura of spiritual and mystic vibe all around.