When a rare ritual art form was staged after decades
Balikkala, a nearly-extinct ritual art form of north Kerala, was performed in its full form again
Balikkala, a traditional folk art from North Malabar, Kerala, historically performed by the Malaya community for women's well-being, is on the edge of oblivion. However, on June 25, 2026, the ARPO LoreKeepers team orchestrated a performance of Balikkala, featuring the last custodians of this fading tradition, Mr. Chanthu and Mr. Balakrishnan who are in their 70s. Last time such a performance was held was some 40 years ago, according to the artists.
Their performance, which showcased the rare Malaya instrument Arippara as the primary percussion, was meticulously digitally archived, encompassing every facet from the preparation to the lengthy oral songs, serving as a priceless resource for future researchers and a valuable educational tool for younger generations.
The event, with the support of Faizal and Shabana Foundation, also witnessed the participation of several young community members, who were eager to watch the performace that they had only heard of. With over a hundred spectators, the event spanned seven hours into the night. The emotional resonance among the performers was palpable as they revisited a cherished tradition from their youth, evoking memories of performing alongside their parents.