Mudiyettu as a ritual is traditionally performed in Bhagavathi temples of central Kerala by few families. Male members of the Marar or Kuruppu family of central Kerala only perform Mudiyettu.

It has a history of more than 10 centuries and finds mention in the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity from 2010 and is the second art form from Kerala to feature in the list.

A temple art form, Mudiyettu depicts the Kali-Darika encounter. Darika a demon had appeased the Gods and obtained the boon that he could be killed only by a woman who is not born to a human. This made him arrogant and he threatened men and Gods alike. Lord Shiva then came to rescue and manifested Kali from his third eye and told her to contain Darika. She went into the forest and took help from the blood thirsty souls and spirits in her quest against Darika, which resulted in the war and death of demon Darika.


Mudiyettu is held after the harvest and starts on an auspicious day. It is conducted with the participation of the whole village and can last from a week to even 41 days. All castes in the village have their own responsibility during the Mudiyettu. While the Parayan is in charge of the leather for drums and bamboo artifacts, the Tandan is given the responsibility of the areca nutfronds required for the masks and headgear. Painting of the masks is done by the Ganakan who also sings. The Maran community prepares the torches and keeps it ready it to be used. The torches are kept burning by the Kuruvan and the laundry of the deity’s dress is entrusted to the Veluthedan / patiyan washes the clothes to be used for the deity’s dress. Brahmins initiate the rituals while the Kurups or Marars draws Kali’s picture.

The artists use heavy makeup, beautiful, vibrant costumes, and tall headgears. This renders an ethereal ambience to the performance. The dress is usually an ornamental red coloured vest with a white belt and the head gear would have a mask of Kali. The Mudiyettu performance is accompanied by Veekku chenda, Urutu chenda, Elathalam and Chengila.

Mudiyettu is preceded by the following sequence:

Kotti Ariyippu

The official announcement of Mudiyettu to be performed is given to the whole village.

Kalam Ezhuthu

a portrait of the Kali is done using natural coloured powders. The portrait is erased using areca nut throngs just before the performance and with that it is believed that the Kali takes abode in the performer.

 Kalam Paatu

Songs praising the deity and invoking her blessings are sung.



Chutti Kuthal

Putting on the elaborate makeup of the artist.

Vilakku Vaipu

Lighting the lamp in the stage and preparing the stage for the performance.

Keli Kott

Announcing the commencement of Mudiyettu.


Some practices connected with Mudiyettu are
Small babies in the audience are taken by the Kali to the lamp on the stage and blessed. It is believed that the child is so immunized from contagious diseases like small pox. It also drives away unwarranted fears and keeps them healthy.
Kali performs pooja and worships Shiva after killing the demon. A torch is used by Kali for this worship which is then taken to the audience. This is called Pantham Uzhiyal. When the torch is being taken among the devotees they throw ‘Thelli’ (dried and powdered resin of Pine wood) on to the torch. This is called Thelli Eriyal.

The sponsor of the Mudiyettu and their near and dear ones are blessed by ‘Mudi Uzhiyial’ – Kali takes off the head gear and blesses them and offers them prasadam.
The performance concludes with the rendition of Shivasthuthi