MOHINIYATTAM (Syllabus: GS Paper 1 – Art and Culture)

News-CRUX-10     28th March 2024        

Context: In a historic move, the Kerala Kalamandalam, a deemed university for arts and culture, has lifted gender restrictions to learn Mohiniyattam.


  • About: It is a semiclassical dance form originating from Kerala, southwestern India.
  • Performed by: It is performed by women as a tribute to the Hindu god Vishnu in his avatar as Mohini, the enchantress. Male can perform this dance. 
  • Mythology: According to Hindu mythology, Vishnu took the form of Mohini to deceive the demon Bhasmasura and save the universe from destruction.
  • History of Mohini Attam

oAncient Roots: Mention of Mohini Attam dates back to a 16th-century legal treatise, but it gained prominence in the 18th century.

oMid-19th Century Revival: Mohini Attam experienced a significant revival in the mid-19th century, particularly under the patronage of Swati Thirunal, the king of Travancore.


  • Grace and Elegance: Mohiniattam combines the grace and elegance of Bharatnatyam with the vigour of Kathakali. There is a marked absence of thumping of footsteps and the footwork are gentle.
  • Feminine dance: Mohiniattam generally narrates the story of the feminine dance of Vishnu.
  • Own style: It has its own Nritta and Nritya aspects like that of other classical dances.
  • Lasya aspect: The Lasya aspect (beauty and grace) of dance is dominant in a Mohiniattam recital. Hence, it is mainly performed by female dancers.
  • Music and songs: The dance is accompanied by music and songs.
  • Costume: Costume is of special importance in Mohiniattam, with white and off white being the principal colours and presence of gold coloured brocade designs. There is no elaborate facial make-up. The dancer wears a leather strap with bells (Ghungroo) on her ankles.
  • Atavakul or Atavus’ is the collection of 40 basic dance movements.
  • Musical instruments used are: cymbals, veena, drums, flute, etc.
output themes