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Mohiniyattam is a graceful dance that is typically performed by women. “Mohini” refers to a temptress in Hindu divinity, who uses her feminine powers to overcome evil; the movements of the dance are believed to be gentle and sweeping to reflect Mohini's actions. Facial expression and gestures are comparatively more important in Mohiniyattam than in other forms of Indian dance, as performers attempt to act out the lyrics of the songs. Hand gestures ("mudras"), are especially important movements in this dance. Mohiniyattam dances usually consist of five parts: a Cholkettu, a Jatrisvaram, a Varnam, a Padam and a Tillana. The dance is usually accompanied by classical Indian music, and performers typically wear relatively simple white and gold outfits with realistic make-up.

Is this activity known by any other names?

Mohiniaattam; Mohiniyaattam; Mohiniattam; Mohini Attam

What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

Mohiniyattam is originally from the south Indian state of Kerala and was created around 500 years ago. The dance was suppressed under British colonial rule along with other traditional physical cultural forms, however, after undergoing changes to the dance in the 19th Century, the traditional form was revived in Kerala in the 1930s. The dance was brought to the GTA by Indian immigrants in the 1970s and 1980s.

Who takes part?

Typically females from Indian heritage.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

People participate in weekly classes and during special occasions. There are also occasional performances in the GTA.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?

Adi Shankara Academy of Performing Arts; Janak Khendry Dance Company; Nupura School of Music and Dance

Cultural Significance

Mohiniyattam may be culturally significant to some Hindu immigrants from Kerala.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Janak Khendry Dance Company
    436 Dufferin Street
    Toronto, ON M6K 2A3
  • Nupura School of Music and Dance - Scarborough
    1840 Ellesmere Road
    Scarborough, ON M1H 2V5
  • Nupura School of Music and Dance - Mississauga
    5100 Maingate Dr
    Mississauga, ON L4W 1X6

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