Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu is famous for its rich art of entertainment. The state is also known for its food, temples, architecture, Carnatic music, and dance forms. Many types of solo, as well as group dances, are performed here. In this article, we’ll look at some of the popular dances that people have kept alive even today. Come let’s take a look.

List of some of the popular Folk Dances in Tamil Nadu-

 Bharatnatyam- Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

It is Tamil Nadu’s folk dance which is mainly performed by women. It is considered to be India’s oldest dance form and also the mother of all other styles of classical dance. The word comprises Bhava, Raag, Tala, and Natya, which when put together makes Bharatanatyam. This culturally rooted dance form originated from the Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu and was first performed in Hindu temples to worship Lord Shiva. This form focuses on hand gestures, footwork, and facial expressions. As this dance mainly involves female dancers, their attire resembles a Tamil bridal dress. A beautiful sari is worn by them which has a sparkling golden border. Along with this, jewelry is also worn by them which makes them look exquisite. 

Bharatnatyam-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

The term Bharata Natyam came later. But this art form is very old. The people of Palantamil called this art form “Koothu”. They are also called dance, dance, and drama. There are many references to this in Sangha literature.

A “Khoothar” makes the art of Kooth his life’s profession.

He is his feminine form “Koothiyar” some of whom are also called Viraliyar.

They danced and sang and entertained the ancient king and the people.

They lived by receiving gold and materials as gifts. Sangha literature tells about their life.

Bharata Natyam is a South Indian dance, particularly in Tamil Nadu. 

It is very ancient and popular in India and abroad. 

Mythologically it is said to have been created by sage Bharata hence the name Bharata. 

While the word Bharata, 

P – sin

Raga,  _

The –  rhythm 

It is also said to stand on the three.   

It is in the word Bharatanatyam 

“P” from the word “sin” (expressive nature), 

From the word “Ra”, “Ragam” (music), 

“Th” is also considered to be derived from the word “thalam” (rhythm).  

In this Bhava represents emotion and Raga represents music. Bharata Natyam is a rhythmic dance. Historically, Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest dance forms in India. This art form originated in Tamil Nadu two thousand years ago. 

More about Bharatnatyam

This art form was called many names like Koothu, Adal, Natyam, Tasi Atam, Chinnamelam, and Satir. 

For the last 70 years or so it has been known as ‘Bharat Natyam’.  Bharatanatyam is a formalized form of Satiratam performed by devadasi women in the temples of Tamil Nadu. The expressions of Navarasam can also be seen in the facial expressions of a well-versed dancer.

Although the majority of people who perform this dance are women, men also perform it. It is noteworthy that even Shiva, the supreme deity of Saivism, is depicted performing this dance in the form of Nataraja. The dance performed by Lord Shiva is called ‘Thandavam’. His dance at the peak of happiness is known as ‘Ananda Thandavam’ and his dance as the destroyer is called ‘Rudra Thandavam’. The dance performed by Parvati with gentle movements and pads is called ‘Lasya’.

Considered as one of the sixty-four arts, Bharata is revered as the divine art of India. Because the early people were in great distress. Indra requested Brahma to create a pastime from the four Vedas for everyone to understand so that this situation could be changed and there would be happiness everywhere. For this, he compiled Natyam from the Uru Veda, Abhinayam from the Yasur Veda, Music from the Sama Veda, and Rasta from the Atharva Veda and created dance as the fifth Veda.  

History with dance

            Brahma first taught the art of dance that he had created to Sage Bharata. Bharata taught this to the women of Gandharvas and Apsaras. Later, in the presence of Lord Shiva at Kailayangiri, these women performed nirudha, niruthiya, and Natyam. Delighted to see this, Shiva remembered the Nardhana he had composed and called the sage Tandu and told him to teach it to Bharatha. It is known as ‘Thandavam’ because the cord was carried by the sage.

            Goddess Parvati taught Lasyam to Usai, daughter of Pana and wife of Anurudira. Uzai taught this to the intercessory girls of Dwarka. Then through them, this art spread all over the world. 

The addition of body movements and handprints is called ‘Adavu’. A combination of several classes is called ‘Jati’. There are about 120 levels. About eighty of them are currently in use. These are carved in sculptures at Chidambaram and Melakkadampur temples.

Musical Instruments

Bharata Natyam requires singing, dancing, and instrumental accompaniment. Veena, flute, violimridangamgam are some of these musical instruments. The musicians sit on one side of the stage and the dancer dances in the center of the stage. The dancer wears colored pattas specially stitched for the dance. He also wears Bharata dance jewelery and anklets.

There are many different styles of teaching Bharatanatyam. Some of them are

Bandanallur style

and Valvuur style

Thanjavur style

Mysore style

Kanchipuram style. 

Among the authors of this art, 

Vavuur Ramaiah Pillai

Thiruvalaputhur Swaminathappillai


Adyar Lakshmanan

Kalanidhi Narayanan


Bamber Dance- Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

This is a dance form of Tamil Nadu which is performed inside a temple to worship Lord Krishna. This is mainly performed around a lamp during Ram Navami and Gokulashtami. 

Karagattam- Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu


It is a traditional dance of Tamil Nadu which involves balancing pots made of metal or a lump of clay on the dancer’s head. This dance is performed to worship Goddess Amman.

Kavadi Aattam- Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

It is a dance form performed by men. This dance involves carrying Kavadi (burdens) through the pilgrimage. There are various types of Kavadi, the most common being a pot of milk. Some men may even pierce their cheeks and tongue with vel skewers. Some Kavadi are very elaborate and heavy. This dance form is performed in worship of Lord Murugan.  

Devaraattam- Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

This form of dance was presented to the Tamil kings and their army after their victorious return from the battle. The dancers hold a handkerchief in their hand and swing it and also copy the steps done by the leading person. The person leading the line wears a counterfeit beard and mask. Presently, this dance form does not have any lyrical music or song, it is only danced on the beats of Urumi Melam, Thappu Melam, and Flute. This dance is now performed during festivals and social occasions.  

Kolattam or Kazhi Aattam-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

Kolattam is derived from “Kol” which means stick. During the dance, these Kols are struck together and rhythmic movements are done. This dance is a combination of songs, mu,sic and rhythmic movements. It is believed that there was a demon named Basavasura who was uncontrolled because of his evil powers. Once, a group of girls decided to play Kolattam with this demon. He was so pleased with the music and girls that he decided to give up all his evil. This is performed in a group during festivals and weddings. 

Kazhai Kothu-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

This is similar to a modern-day circus, which includes gymnastics steps. People performing this travel from place to place and earn their living. They put gaudy makeup on their face and showcase their art. This art of gymnastics was mastered by the Aryans.  

Mayil Aattam or Peacock Dance-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

Mayil Aattam or Peacock dance is usually performed by women. A blue coloured dress is worn by them along with peacock feathers and a beak. It is performed in the Hindu temples and offered to Lord Murugan.

Ottan Koothu-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

This dance form is presented by tribal people to depict ancient stories during festivals. An instrument named Urumi is played during the activity which is believed to have sacred and supernatural powers. 

Paampu Attam or Snake Dance-Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu

This dance form is done by young girls wearing tight-fitted costumes resembling a snake. They raise their hands on their head and perform similar movements as that done by snakes such as slithering, creep,ing and hissing. This dance form arises to save and protect snakes accepttthemg its a divcreaturesture.

Poikkal Kuthirai Aattam or Artificial Horse Dance

It is a dance form in which dancers wear a dummy horse which is hollow in between so that a person can fit in it. The horse’s body is made of light-weighted material so that it is easy to handle colorfulrful clothes are hung on the sides to cover the legs. This folk dance needs a lot of skillpracticeactise. It is performed along with folk music to worship Goddess Amman. 

Puliyattam or Puli Aattam or Tiger Dance

It is another old folk art dance of Tamil Nadu. In this dance, the bodies of the dancers are painwithd by yellow and black paint to create a replicathe  of Tiger. The look is completed by joining a fake tail and ears. The stentorian sounds of drums along with several instruments try to create a complete picture. The performers make graceful tiger-like moves. 

Shattam Dance

This form of dance is devoted to Lord Vishnu. This dance is performed in groups with the instrument named “Urumi”. Classical songs and graceful steps are its main features. 


It is a street party in which music and dance are performed by people during festivals and weddings. It is conducted at a meeting point of three to four streets in an open ground. Usually, men take part in it and the roles of women are also done by them. The function includes story-telling, singing, dancing,g, drama etc. Dress and makeup are special features. The function begins in the late evening and ends late in the night. 

These were some of the most popular folk dances of Tamil Nadu. It’s appreciating that people have kept them alive till now!!!

Bamber Dance

his is very popular and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna. This is performed on the eve of Ramanavami inside the temples. It is done around the lamp.

The Bamber dance originated in Tamil Nadu and is a popular form of folk dancing. It is a form of devotional dancing and is performed inside temples on the eve of Ramanavami. It is performed around a lamp and is accompanied by drums, a chair, and a musical instrument. A fire hydrant or Villu is used as an accompaniment during the dance.

The dummy horse is a unique feature of this dance. The dummy horse is made of lightweight material, and the legs are covered with colorful clothes. The performers perform this dance to the rhythm of a long flute and worship the Goddess Amman. The dancers are colorful on their heads and legs and mimic snake movements with their hands and heads. It is said that this style of dancing was relegated to the villages in the south.

The dummy horse is a special dance from, and involves wearing a dummy horse. The body of the dummy horse is made from light-weight material colorful clothes are hung on the sides of the animal’s legs. It is a beautiful form of dance, performed with a great deal of artistry and rhythm. The dummy horse is also a popular religious dance in the region, as it is performed to worship the Goddess Amman.

Villu Pattu Dance

Villu Pat is a notable and attracts the urban and rustic folks alike. In this dance perform,ance the singer is accompanied by a chair and with the musical instrument Villu or view fired with bells. When Villu is struck the jingling of bells starts and the head singer narrates a tale with thrilling songs.

The performance of Villu Pattu is a ritual event with a unique structure. It begins with a curved string, much like a bow, attached to a large earthen jug, which is balanced on a circular plate made of cocofiberibre. There are numerous bells attached to the bow’s string, and two cymbals at either end. In the traditional performance, the main performer uses a wooden rcalledkol’ to strike the string in time with the beats. The “possessed” individual then dances spasmodically and intensely, answering questions from the crowd.

Villu Pattu is a traditional art form involving narrating stories to a crowd while striking a bow and resting it on a mud pot. The other performers, whose roles include acting as active listeners and striking the bow during the performance, also performkadaia kattai, an instrument similar to a drum. The performance is a highlight for both audiences and performers.

Villu Pattu is performed by a lead storyteller. He often holds a set of notes in front of him and refers to it throughout the performance. Sometimes these notes belong to the local temple, which hires the artist to tell a story about a local deity. In the end, the performance is a raucous spectacle, full of jokes ahumorour. It is a highly visual and entertaining performance.

Snake Dance

According to the regional rituals of Tamilnadu the snakes have much popularity and their worship is conceived to bless the family and harness well-beingeing of the society. Thus snake dance is one of the popular folk dances of Tamilnadu. In this dance perform,ance the girls perform clad in the attire of snakeskin dress.

In the state of Tamil Nadu, the snake dance, also known as paampu attam, is one of the most famous folk dances. This traditional Tamil dance is performed by girls snakeskinkin costumes. The dancing is done to worship the serpent god Murugan. The girls in tdancewearear tight-fitting costumes resembling those of snakes, and their movements are quite similar to that of a real snake.

This dance originated in the ancient Tamils, who considered snakes as sacred creatres, and worshiped them as a deity. In Hinduism, the serpent is regarded as a protector, and the Snake is worshipped in the southern state to protect the rural people from poison. This unique art form has evolved from a long-established tradition of worshipping the snake, and its performance is an incredibly colorful and entertaining spectacle.

The traditional Snake Dance of Tamil Nadu is also known as Paampu Attam. This is a form of folk art performed by rural women in the southern region. The performers perform this dance wearing snakeskin outfits. It is believed that the dancing of the serpent protects the lives of those who watch it. It is consideras a form of safeguarding the health and prosperity of the people who watch it.

Kolattam Dance

This is a sort of stick dance and emerged as a rustic dance form. The women perform this dance holding two sticks in each of their hands abeatingeat them to make a sound.

The Kolattam dance is an ancient folk art form that originated in Tamil Nadu, India. It is performed as an appeasement dance to the demon Basavasura. It is said to have appeased the vengeful demon and inspired him to stop his evil ways. The tradition of performing the Kolattam dance dates back to the days of the Basavasura legend. Since then, the traditional dance has continued to be performed with the same purpose. It is also thought that this type of folk dance is the personification of Lord Siva, and that it is worshipped as such.

Kolattam dance is an extremely graceful and beautiful Indian dance. It starts with a chant of the Hindu god, Lord Ganesha. Then, the performers move around the stage in a circle. The music is played by the leaders of the group, who sing the first line of the song, and then the rest of the performers sway to the beat. Many words kolamolattam dance have different meanings. Pennudi means leader of the group, Usi is a change in speed, and Ettugada methe ans beginning of the dance.

The Kolattam dance is a form of Hindu folk dance drama. The leader of the group sings the first line of a song, while the rest of the dancers sway in a circle, moving their bodies in time with the music. The different parts of the dance have different meanings, and the language used in the dance is unique and complex. The words Pennudi means leader of the group, while Usi means a change of speed.


This had been a popular martial art practiced by Tamilamil rulers which adopted the form of dance.

Silambam is a weapon-based Indian martial art that originates in Tamil Nadu, South India. It is closely related to the Sri Lankan angampora and the Keralan kalaripayat. The term silambam is derived from the Tamil words silam, which means “hillpreambleperambu, which means “bamboo”. The term’silambattam’, or stick fighting, refers to a stick that has a special shape.

The main focus of the art is a bamboo staff. The staff is about one meter in length, but it can be shorter or longer depending on the practitioner. The traditional length of a bamboo staff is 1.68 meters (5 1/2 feet), though different lengths can be used depending on the situation. A three-foot stick is useful as it can be hidden easily. Different staff lengths require separate training and a separate practice.

The staff plays a significant role in silambam. The length depends on the practitioner’s height, but there are several other staff lengths. Some people prefer a three-foot staff as it is easy to conceal. A separate practice is required for different-lstaffstaffs. A student who is trained in both styles can learn to use either weapon in single combat. This method is rooted in tradition and is an excellent way to learn the art.

The stick is held in front of the body in a front-facing position. The wrist movement initiates attacks, which are often combined with kaaladi (blows). A silambam fighter’s moves and intentions are never concealed, but tcane to overwhelm their opponent with an unrelenting stream of blows. If they’re able to avoid a lock and counter it with a strike, they’ll be in a much better position to hit their opponent.

Poikkal Kudirai Aattam

This is a dummy horse dance in which the dancer parts the shape of a horse on his hips. This traditional dance of Tamilnadu needs much preparation and skill. The dancing gear is made with utmost care which can swing back and forth coming the legs of the dancer. The dancer has wooden legs to appear like the hooves of the horse. The dancer holds a whip or sword during the performance.

Poikkal Kudirai Aatam is one of the most popular forms of dance in Kerala. It is performed with a lightweight dummy horse wrapped around the waist of the performer. The performance is a regal spectacle, involving heavy facial expressions the and continuous beating of a tin drum. The dance is considered a perfect showcase of the art form’s intricate details.

The dance form originated in Thanjavur and was introduced to the state of Tamil Nadu by Marathas in the 2nd century. It is often associated with the goddess Madhavi and is performed to please her village god AYYANAR. The performance is performed as a routine during festivals and is linked to the mystical nature of the Silapathikaram. In addition to the mythological connection, it is a traditional medium in which the hero wears a horse-like structure made of maple leaves.

The form was originally performed by the Goddess Durga. Her enemies used to disguise themselves as scorpions and snakto to attack her. To protect herself from the attack, she tied a piece of wood around her legs and danced wildly. The heavy steps of the dance killed the enemies and it was later renamed as Poikkal Kudirai. In modern times, the dance is performed to the music of Naiyandi Melam.

Karakattam Dance                       

Karagaattam is a popular folk dance of Tamilnadu which hexceptionalion artthe balanc of clay or metal pots on the heads of the dancers. The dance is associated with the worship of Amman. These pots hconescone, topped with a paper parrot with the movement of the danand cer the parrot birds. The dancers pay respect to Gangai Amman the goddthe ess of river. This unique dance is performed in praise of the rain goddess Mariamman. According to an ancient Tamil epic, Karakaattam evolved from Bharatham, which was a combination of different forms of Tamil dance. This type of music-and-dance performance also incorporates the mudras and postures of Bharatanatyam.

The earliest recorded mention of the art form dates back to five thousand years ago. It is mentioned in an ancient epic that was written in Tamil. It is related to the heritage dance form Bharatham. While there are similarities, this form of music has been accused of being vulgar and erotic. In some recent performances, however, this reputation has been rebutted. It is not a bad thing, and there are even a few interesting sequences in Karakattam.

Origin of Karakattam

Karakattam originated in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, and quickly spread to other parts of India. Later, it was brought to Canada by Indian immigrants. The people who pethe rform Karakattam dance are predominantly of the South Asian community. They come from South Asia and Tamil-speaking countries. Some of the tartiststes come from Thanjavur and other areas of the Southern part of India. In Canada, karakattam has become very popular.

In the United States, karakattam dancers have been featured in several films, including the film Karagattakaran. This movie became a popular advertisement for the dance form, as it included a karakattam song. Other films with karakattam dancers include the devotional movie Padai Veetu Amman, which featured Meena dancto ing a traditional festival song. In 2002, the devotional movie Sri Bannari Amman featured a central female devotee as a prayoga.

Chakkai Attam

The word Chekkai signifies special in Tamil and Attam means dance. Chakkai Attam is one of the most popular folk dances of Tamilnadu. In this performs,nce nearly 8 dances gather to form a circle holding wooden pieces with their fingers to produce sound. The songs are sung during the dance to adore the deities.

Kavadi Attam

This dance has trand adition has much affinity to North Indian Kaavad Yatras In which people carry Kaavad on their shoulders. Similarly in Tami,lnadu the pilgrims carry Kaavaa d on stick. Justmotivatetion tiredness they usually sing and dance in the praisethe God. This dance is performed only by the new. In this Balancingthe  of pole is done with pots tied to the stick on eitsideides of the stick filled with milk or coconut water.


In this classical dance ,form women stind on a circle and clap their hands. Kummi dance is performed on all occasions like religious festivals, famgatherings,ring or harvcelebrationstion.

Mayil Attam

This dance is performed by the ladies in Tamilnadu to adore Lord Murugan. In this dance performance,ance women dress like a peacock having peacock Phuand sparkle headgearears and a beak. 


This refers to a puppet show. It is customary to arrange puppet shows in the villaing The puppets are made of wood, leather, and cloth and are operated with the help of strings. The stories of the puppet shows are taken from the Puranas and Indian legends.


The village folk dance is performed to appease the rain goddess Mariamman.


This is a sort of love ballad. This is a mixture of folk and classical dance. This was performed by Devdasi practice is stopped. Kuravanji dance is getting less prevalent.

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