Kolkali is one of the most popular folk arts of Kerala. This art form is believed to be 200 years old. The name Kolkali means dance with sticks.
Dancers form a circle and move around it, striking handheld small sticks. The dance will be in accordance with the music played in the background. As the dance proceeds, the circle expands and contracts.
As the accompanying song gains momentum, the dance reaches its climax. It is sometimes performed on a raised wooden platform and hence is also known as Thattinmelkali.
Kolkali is mostly a Muslim art form. Physical flexibility, control of steps and rhythm are essential to learn it. Like Kalaripayattu, there are teachers called Asans to impart training in Kolkali.
Mundu and Banyan are the commonly used costumes for the performance of Kolkali. Sometimes, a piece of cloth tied round the head is also part of the attire.
Thalassery and Payyannur towns in Kannur district are famous for their legacy of Kolkali.