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Mudiyettu – A Ritual Art Form of Kerala

Mudiyettu, listed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists

Mudiyettu (Malayalam : മുടിയേറ്റ് ) is a traditional ritual and folk art performed in  Kerala. Performance of this folk art visualizing the story of battle between the Goddess Kali and the Demon Darika in Hindu mythology. Mudiyett is performed annually in ‘Bhagavati Kavus’, the Shrine of the Goddess, in different villages along the central Kerala.


Chutti kuth – Applying Makeup on Mudiyettu artist’s face with white rice paste


Putting face mask for Demon Darika character for Mudiyettu performance

Significance of Mudiyett

Mudiyett was inscribed in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2010. Mudiyett is the second art form from Kerala listed in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after Koodiyattam.


Dresses up the artist, who perform Goddess Kali character Mudiyettu


Arangu Keli – Beats of drums before the Mudiyettu performance


Demon Darika received a boon from Brahma which granted that he would never be defeated by any man living in any of the fourteen worlds of Hindu mythology. Then Darika become immensely powerful and arrogant. Darika went on to defeat Indra the king of the gods, and conquer the world. As his atrocities became intolerable, the sage Narada requested Lord Shiva to contain Darika. Shiva agreed, circumventing Brahma’s boon by declaring that Darika would be killed by the Goddess Kali, she being a woman and one not born among the humans.


Artist playing the role of Narada, the vedic sage in Hindu mythology in Mudiyettu


Artist performing the role of Lord Shiva in Mudiyettu

Make up.

Chuttikuthal (Make up) is an elaborate process lasting 2 hours. Chuttikuth giving an extraordinary look to the performers. Makeup is directly applying to the face of artist. Natural products and colors are the main materials for the makeup. White paste made up with rice flour is a main content for the chuttikuth in Mudiyett. Flowers and coconut palm leaves are the main material to decorate the head dress of Goddess Kali.


Purappadu of Darika, (Entry of Demon Darika) a scene from Mudiyettu performance


The fireball is flaming to show the horrible form of demon Darika in Mudiyettu


A complete performance of this folk art requires a total of 16 persons, including percussionists, Kalamezhuthu artists, vocalists. There are also evident regional differences in the attire and performance styles of this art. Arangu Keli, Arangu vazhthal, Kali Purappaadu and Kali Darika War, are the main scenes performed.

Mudiyett Photos


Character Darika performing in front of the fire torch in Mudiyettu


Kali purappadu (Entry of Goddess Kali) in Mudiyettu performance


Battle between Goddess Kali and Demon Darika, a scene in Mudiyettu

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