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One of the most important rituals in temples of Kerala, the ancient ritual art of Tholpavakoothu is basically a form of puppet dancing, a trait that can be gathered from the literal translation of its name which means, "Leather puppet play". Each puppet is of an average height of 80 cms and is cut out in different postures. Generally performed in the "Koothumadam", or specially constructed play houses in various temples in Kerala, Tholpavakoothuu is a shadow play in which the puppets are moved to depict the various scenes of the drama.The puppets are generally carved out of hides of buffaloes and deer. It holds significance as the buffalo hides are used to depict evil characters while the deer hides represent noble characters in the drama.
It is performed during the annual festivals in the Kaali temples of Palakkad district. Tholpavakoothu revolves around the life of Lord Rama, the legendary hero of the Ramayana, one of the most sacred Indian epics. Tholpavakoothu describes the event which began with the birth of Lord Rama till his coronation as the king of Ayodhya.This is handled traditionally by Pulavanmars. “pava” means puppet and “koothu” means play.After that a singer sings songs from Ramayana and the puppets are made to move and dance according to the music.

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