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By Vishnudas
Koothu South India has one of the richest cultural heritages in the world.
A land of the mighty Dravidian kings and their majestic legacy that lives till today in the forms of art and culture that they help spread, the various states of south India boasts of rich and myriad forms of culture expressed in different forms of dances, art, festivals, foods, clothes and lifestyles. 

There are similarities as well as differences but each has its own charm, magic and uniqueness that leaves people wondering how such art forms might have evolved. 

Every year the rich cultural legacy of this land is exhibited in the grand colourful festivals, the dance performances, the fairs and food festivals which attract people from all over the world. 

It’s a real treat for anyone who values diversity and is curious to know about what happens beyond their own society and culture. It leaves some people spell bound who need some time to digest the grandeur and richness of the culture.

Among the many folk art found in south India Koothu is a special dance performance of the Tamil country, today’s Kerala and Karnataka. It is a street dance or street play performed by the villagers on special occasions. The participants of this dance are mainly males, who sometimes dress up as females. 

Koothu was a very important means of entertainment in the ancient days where they dint have any modern means of entertainment like cinema, theater etc. Thus it is very simple and uses traditional instruments and is performed in live vocal. Besides entertainment this art form also depicts the social and religious life of the people. 

This art form is very ancient and finds mention in some of the ancient texts and literatures. Some of the acts enacted in this dance depict the scenes from ancient epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Tamil classics. 

The exchange of dialog between the dancers takes place through songs. The artists sing the song themselves, loud enough for the entire audience to hear. This was due to the lack of audio instruments available in the past. 

Another major attraction of this dance is the costume of the participants which are heavy, bright and colourful with towering head dress, glittering shoulder plates and colourful skirts. It is complimented by equally bright make up which makes the entire performance vivid and lively. 

It captures the attention of the audience in such a strong way that it is difficult to divert it. There are different forms of Koothu like Nattu Koothu, Kuravi Koothu and Valli Koothu which differ in themes ranging from religious to martial arts to wars etc. 

Efforts are being made to preserve this art which is slowly dying away by institutionalizing it. It is more popular in the rural areas than the urban areas but is slowly becoming more and more popular in urban areas as well. 

Such rich art and cultural forms makes this part of the county one of the most fascinating tourist destinations that attracts tourist from all over the world.

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