Kathakali is the most well known dance drama from the south Indian state of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means “Story-Play”. It is known for its large, elaborate makeup and costumes. The elaborate costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized icon for Kerala.
Performance—traditionally, a Kathakali performance is usually conducted at night and ends in early morning. Nowadays it isn’t difficult to see performances as short as three hours or even lesser. Kathakali is usually performed in front of the huge Kalivilakku (kali meaning dance; vilakku meaning lamp) with its thick wick sunk till the neck in coconut oil. A distinguishing characteristic of this art form is that the actors never speak but use hand gestures, expressions and rhythmic dancing instead of dialogue.