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Malabar Dance Forms

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Oppana is a dance form and a performing art practiced by the Muslim women in the Malabar region of Kerala, especially the districts of Canaonore, Calicut and Malappuram. It is believed that the word Oppana derives its origin from the word Afna (Arabic). It is performed to commemorate the nuptial celebrations of the bride and is part of the wedding festivities. It is a famed form of social entertainment. Maidens and the female relatives of the bride sing and dance clapping their hands.

The bride is decked in finery and intricate ornaments and seated in the middle on a high seat called the peetam. The bride’s friends and other young ladies clap their hands rhythmically to the beat of the song and dance around her. There are about 15 performers including the musicians. The dance is not vigorous and the steps are simple and movements graceful. Sometimes a type of Oppana called Oppana Chayal is performed that does not involve the clapping of hands. The other type of Oppana is Oppana Murukkam.

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