Balikkala is a traditional folk art from North Malabar, Kerala, with historical roots in the Malaya community, who traditionally performed it for the well-being of women. This elaborate ritual is a form of worship dedicated to five deities -- Kuttichathan, Gandharvan, Bhairavan, Chamundi and Bhadrakali -- each responsible for different aspects of life. Each thottam, or segment, is specifically dedicated to one of these deities.The performance features the rare Malaya instrument Arippara as the primary percussion.
Balikkala is now nearly extinct, with the last performance taking place several decades ago.
It was performed again, under the LoreKeepers project.
The performance, led by Chanthu Panikkar, was meticulously digitally documented by Lorekeepers team. This comprehensive record captures every aspect of the event, from the intricate preparations to the extensive oral songs.
This digital archive serves as a priceless resource for future researchers and a valuable educational tool for younger generations interested in preserving this cultural heritage.
The event, supported by the Faizal and Shabana Foundation, saw the enthusiastic participation of several young community members who, until then, had only heard of this unique performance. With over a hundred spectators, the event unfolded over seven hours into the night, creating a memorable and culturally enriching experience.
Watch the performances and the stories behind it, as narrated by Panikkar.