(Last Updated on : 20/07/2009)
Kotamuri is a village art performed by the Malayan caste in Kannur district, Kerala. The Malayan community is professionally known for practicing exorcism, singing their traditional song called kannerupattu. Many of the men are Teyyam dancers, specializing in the spirits of Vishnu Murti, Kutti Chathan, Bhairavan, Pottan, Chamundi, and Gulikan. They enact Kotamuri during the time of harvest as a fertility rite. The main performer is a boy in the guise of a cow, his face painted elegantly and wearing a small headdress, with a cow`s mask tied to a frame attached to his waist. He dances to the songs of accompanying musicians and the rhythms of the chenda drum. Two interesting characters called Paniyan, wearing painted masks made of areca spathes, play with the cow. They also make jokes of contemporary social relevance. The performers visit every house, receiving paddy and other gifts. The villagers believe they are harbingers of prosperity.
The songs accompanying the dance generally deal with stories of the beautiful mother goddess of Cherukunnu temple. The goddess reached the village from the Arya country by sea in an open canoe. Siva, the principal deity of the nearby temple at Taliparamba, came to see her and fell in love. She started demanding gifts from him. He readily complied, giving her even his own belongings, and in the end had to run away bereft of everything. She is considered the mother of fertility. Many songs about the cow of fertility are delivered which include the following line: `Let the houses that the Kotamuri visits thrive with abundance of paddy and money.`
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