Traditional folk dances are of great variety. One of the most charming
is the Kummi, where the rhythm of the song and steps begins
in slow beats and gets exciting acceleration as well as complication.
form is the Tiruvathira dance by maidens in a circle
which revolves with steps alternating with the palms of each maiden meet
those of a girl next her in rhythmic claps. A narrative song is also sung
by the dancers as they go round. The cultural level has always been fairly
high in the middle and upper classes and women fully participate in it.
In Kerala, there is a unique phenomenon of a continuous escalation of
folk traditions. The Tiruvathira celebration must have begun as a simple
folk song and dance. But later narrative poems of classical quality were
written for such dances. One of the best example is the poem on the story
of Shakuntala written for this dance by Machatt Illyat in the first half
of the nineteenth century.