Chavittu Nadakam

Chavittu Nadakam, is an energetic classical art form of Christians of Kerala. Chavittu meaning kick or stamp and Nadakam meaning drama or play, Chavittu Nadakam is based on either the biblical stories or on the lives of European kings. Though not authenticated it is believed that Portuguese were the ones who developed Chavittu Nadakam . The legend goes as when the Portuguese landed in Malabar in the 16th century and started their activities in Kerala they found that Kathakali was quite prevalent among Hindus. They attributed Kathakali to be the reason that made the Hindus well versed in their traditions. So the Portuguese conferred with the local scholars and devised / created a dance form for Christians. Thus Chavittu Nadakam was formed.

The specialty of this art form is its steps. The artists stamp the floor very forcefully as per the beats of the song. The songs are accompanied by the bells and drums. The songs of Chavittu Nadakam are sung by the artists themselves. The songs are in a mix of Malayalam and Tamil. They are sung in loud voices to match the gestures and steps of the dance. The dance consists of steps and gestures that are very elaborate, exaggerated and when accompanied by the stamping makes it very dramatic and brisk. The costume too is very different and peculiar in its appearance. Bright coloured dresses fitted with glittering buttons and trifles. 


The style of the costumes of Chavittu Nadakam are European from the medieval period. The important or the main characters wear dresses made of brocade and they also wear ornamental headdresses or crowns. The less important characters also wear colourful and bright colours but have less of the glitter and smaller headdress or crown. The soldiers are identified by their hats which would be fitted with quills Chavittu Nadakam is the Indian form of European ballet.


The main stories that are depicted in the Chavittu Nadakam performances are of Alexander the Great, David and Goliath, Charles the great etc. to name a few. Alexander III of Macedon was of Argead Dynasty the famous the ancient Greek royalty and the disciple of Aristotle. Having succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20, he created the largest empires of the ancient world by his exceptional military campaign. His ambition was to reach the end of the seas with his conquests but it wasn’t materialized when Alexander had to return from India due to his soldiers insistence to go back.

Charles the great was Charlemagne, the King of Franks Also called as Charles I he is considered the father of Europe since he laid the foundation for the modern Germany and France. Charles I is also the first holy Roman emperor.

St. Sebastian was believed to have been killed during the persecution of Christians by the Roman empire. He is celebrated as a martyr and also as the saint of athletes. His prosecution is commonly depicted in paintings as being tied to a post and tortured and shot with arrows. Legend has that he was rescued and healed from those wounds. Later when he criticized the emperor Dioletian he was clubbed to death.
David and Goliath’s is the classic story of how a small boy with his wit and intelligence defeated the giant Goliath. David was the future king of Isreal and Goliath a giant philistine warrior.