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Top 7 Popular Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu, India

Top 7 Popular Folk Dances of Tamil Nadu, India

There are many popular traditional folk dance styles in Tamil Nadu.

These dance forms are carried out by numerous individuals and groups and include authentic styles of Tamil Nadu’s traditional folk dances.


Some of these dances are currently practiced not just for their cultural significance but also for their entertainment value.

In this article, you will get to know the following traditional folk dances in Tamil Nadu,

  1. Bharatanatyam
  2. Kavadi Attam
  3. Kolattam
  4. Mayilattam
  5. Poikkaal Kuthirai Aattam
  6. Koothu
  7. Puliyattam

Let’s see each of these in detail…

1. Bharatanatyam

Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance from Tamil Nadu that is primarily performed by females.

It is regarded as the mother of all other classical dance forms and the earliest dancing style in India.

The term Bharatanatyam is made up of the words Bhava, Raag, Tala, and Natya.


This deep-rooted cultural dance style first emerged in Hindu temples to worship Lord Shiva in Tamil Nadu’s Tanjore area.

This dancing style emphasizes facial expressions, footwork, and hand movements.

Women dress like Tamil brides and display their elegant performances. They are dressed in lovely sarees with shimmering golden borders accompanied by jewelry, which enhances the gorgeous appearance of the entire dance style.

2. Kavadi Attam

Kavadi Attam is a traditional folk dance that is performed by the men of Tamil Nadu. The pilgrimage dance involves carrying Kavadi (burdens).

This type of dance is performed to honor Lord Murugan.

People who worship Lord Murugan make ceremonial sacrifices and offerings to him in order to receive guidance to avoid debt and pray for protection from disaster.

Rice, milk, or any other offering that the devotee would like to make to Lord Murugan may be included in the Kavadi, which may vary in size and shape.

There are several types of Kavadi, with a pot of milk being the most popular. Some Kavadi is extremely complicated and heavy.

3. Kolattam

Kolattam, which derives from the root word “Kol” meaning stick.

In Kolattam, these Kols are hit together while dancing and rhythmic movements are performed. These traditional folk dances are accompanied by graceful movements, melodies, and music.


According to popular belief, Basavasura was a demon with uncontrollable wicked abilities.

Once, a group of girls made the choice to play the devil in Kolattam. He made the decision to give up all of his evil since the music and the joyful girls made him so merry.

A group of people performs this folk dance during festivities and pujas.

4. Mayilattam

Mayilattam is a popular traditional dance form of Tamil Nadu, especially performed by the women folk. It is a creative and religious form of dance performed in Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu.

This traditional dance requires skills and tough training.

Without the appropriate attire, the gracefulness of the Mayilattam dance is incomplete. The attractiveness of the show is complemented by its dress code.

As Lord Subrahmanya used to ride his favorite animal, a peacock, the performer in this art form is dressed entirely in a peacock-like outfit with a beak.

The dancers also attach a large chunk of wood at the end of their feet as they do not wear any footwear.

5. Poikkaal Kuthirai Aattam

The dance of the false-legged horse, Poikkal Kuthirai Attam originates from Tamil Nadu but it is also very popular in Maharashtra.

The performers fit inside the horse shell at the hip position.

The wooden horse shell is exquisitely decorated – usually, with hardened paper and then embroidered with ornamental designs with the flawless usage of glass.


The rich ornamentation creates a wonderful reflection of light and a dazzling visual effect on the audience.

Wooden legs are attached to mimic the sound of the hooves.

The performers balance themselves on the false wooden legs and display lovely and elegant performances.

6. Koothu

The special music and dance form of Koothu originated long back in Tamil Nadu. It is performed in the open area, especially at the intersection of lanes and streets.

Typically, men participate in this traditional folk dance and also play the role of women smoothly.

The event features storytelling, singing, dance, theatre, and many other things. Special aspects include gorgeous and colorful attires and makeup.

The narrative event starts in the late evening and lasts until late at night.

The folk song and dances depict music and dance scenes related to the great Mahabharata, Ramayana, and other epic classics of Tamil Nadu.

7. Puliyattam

Puliyattam folk dance, also known as the “tiger dance” is a traditional style of dance that has been practiced for many decades in Tamil Nadu.

This amazing form of dance features vibrant dancing moves that resemble the aggressive and beautiful movements of a tiger together with exotic attire.

In the southern region of India, it is primarily observed during harvest festivals or other religious celebrations.


A troop of six dancers performs the Puliyattam dance.

Each of them is dressed in loincloths and is painted by skilled artists in vibrant hues of yellow and black like that of a tiger.

They represent exactly the deadly beast, with teeth, clawed paws, and a tail.

The performers are able to mimic the quick and unpredictable movements of the “puli” or tiger.

The furiously played deafening roar of the drums and other musical instruments is associated with folk dance.

The act begins slowly and later includes swift movements, high jumps, and pouncing motions like a tiger.

The neighboring states of Kerala and Karnataka are also quite familiar with this folk dance.

These were some of the most well-known Tamil Nadu folk dances.

It’s admirable that people have kept these ancient traditions alive still today. Make

More folk dances in Indian states

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