Percussion and orchestra of a different kind

You can catch up with the mesmerizing spell of panchavadyam recitals during a temple festival or religious processions.

An orchestra of 5 instruments played in temples, especially during festivals. It is as indispensable as the elephant pageants in temple festivals. Panchavadyam is a unique orchestra of Kerala that comprises of five instruments- Pancha (five) Vadyam (instrument). The instruments used in panchavadyam are Maddalam, Edakka, Thimila, Ilathalam and Kombu. 

The maddalam is considered as a divine instrument as it was a major accompaniment in the 'Dance of Lord Siva. It is thought to have originated in the 13th century and the varieties include the Suddha maddalam and Toppi maddalam. Made from jack wood these are barrel shaped percussion instruments. The open ends of the maddalam are covered with stretched hide that are fastened by leather straps.

The ilathalam is the local variant of the cymbals while edakka is the most sensitive of all. The drum heads of this wooden instrument is secured by cotton threads and the player beats the drum and manipulates the strings at the same time. Kombu is a curved horn made of brass or copper. The shrill note of this wind instrument adds to the timbre of the musical feast. 

You can catch up with the mesmerizing spell of panchavadyam recitals in any temple festivals or religious processions. It is also an inevitable part in temple rituals including the ceremonial procession of deities.

 The best place to have a date with this exciting musical extravaganza is the Thrissur Pooram. If you happen to be in Kerala during April-May, then you can pamper your musical ears with a bout of pure music.

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