Kalamezhuthu is unique temple ritual aimed to propitiate gods or to exorcise evil spirits. This is an elaborate picturesque powder design drawn either on temporarily sanctified floor or special area reserved for this in temple or “sacred groves” (“kavu”) of Kerala. This colorful ritualistic art is drawn using the following five earth colors, (growth of life in the nature) all prepared from natural products.
· White from rice flour
· Black from charcoal powder/burnt husk
· Yellow from turmeric
· Green from powdered green leaves (Leaves of “Kunni” / “manjadi” / “vaka” are preferred)
· Red/dark red, made from a fine mixture of lime and turmeric powder.
The primary colors green and yellow, and secondary colors of red and black, and the neutral color white represents five fundamental elements.
· Yellow – earth
· Green -air
· Red –fire
· White- water.
The design on the floor is called “ kalam” and the ritual is called “Kalamezhuthu “ .
The figure and nature of the kalam depend on the purpose of the kalam. Kalams are written as a Geometrical shape (yantra / chakra) or as portrait. The intricate pattern is developed from a central line growing outwards patch by patch. The upper part of the body is drawn in 3 dimensions in some kalam. The most popular forms are Badrakali-kalam, Naga-kalam, Yakshi-kalam, gandrava kalam, sasta kalam.
Special mentions should give the varieties of Sarpa-kalam like Ashta-naga-kalam (8 intertwined serpents), Karinaga-kalam (black kalam), Anjanamani-kalam (serpent carrying anjanam, a crystal, on its head) and devi kalam with 64 hands carrying various armaments and head of Darika drawn for “Theyyattu” and “Mudiyettu”.
After inviting the deity to the kalam with pooja and paying the offerings, songs praising the deity are recited with thalam. The duration of the ritual may change according to the type and purpose of kalam. Finally the kalam is erased with song and dance. Bhadrakalikalam is drawn to the folk ritualistic theater play “Mudiyettu”. Kalamezhuthu is centuries old art and architecture.
Some salient features of Kalamezhuthu:
· It is named as “ezhuthu” (writing) and not Drawing. So it is more authoritative.
· Even though the kalam is to be erased within a short time, perfection is never compromised in Kalamezhuthu.
· Sketches are not used. In portrait type a central dot-line is drawn (Sutra pada rekha in Architecture / life line in palmistry).
· There is no erasing during the course of Kalamezhuthu.
· The upper torso of the deity is written in 3 dimensional, which gives an exotic feeling.
· In bhadra-kalam, rice is used to elevate right breast, while paddy is used for left one. The former represent “Asura bhava” while latter “Deva Bhava”.
· Some kalams are bi-dimensional.
· The kalams, in total, are Eco-friendly.
· The green color is specifically charcoal green, color of Lord Krishna (Shyama).
· In Naga-kalam, vaka (for green) is not used as it is an antidote.
· The artists mix and write 11 colors out of these 5 fundamental colors with ease.
· While western Cubism is superficial, the Kalamezhuthu, with its geometrical figures and amazing color sense presents in-depth view.
Different Types Of "Kalams"