What is Kalamezhuthu Art?

11 July 2024

Kalamezhuthu is a ritualistic art form which is often made during auspicious occasions. Kalamezhuthu in Malayalam is called ‘കളമെഴുത്ത്.’

The Kalamezhuthu pattu song is sung to the beats of ilathalam, chenda, Kombu, veekkanchenda, and kuzhal before the kalam is drawn. One may even see the dramatic Mudiyettu ritual.

A Kalamezhuthu painting is usually done by male members of the Ambalavasis, Kurups, Theyyampadi Nambiars, Theeyadi Nambiars and Theeyadi Unnis communities. Hence, there are many unique variants.

The drawing begins at an affixed time. Artists use natural coloured powders to draw ‘kalams’ of deities in front of the temples and houses. The artist prepares the floor with a paste of rice powder and cow dung.

The first line in the Kalamezhuthu painting is made from east to west. Using charcoal or chalk, the outline is created next. The eyes are drawn at the end, as it is believed that drawing them enlivens the deity.

The Kalamezhuthu art is usually decorated with palm leaves, red hibiscus & jasmine flowers, incense sticks, and basil leaves. At the end of the ritual, the paintings are erased.