Mizhavu kept in Mizhavana (wooden box made especially to keep the mizhavu).

Mizhavu kept in Mizhavana (wooden box made especially to keep the mizhavu).

Mizhavu : Introductin

A mizhav or mizhavu is a big copper drum played as an accompanying percussion instrument in the Koodiyattam and Koothu, performing arts of Kerala. It is played by the Ambalavasi Nambiar community. After 1965, when started a mizhavu reppetry in kalamandalam break the cast barrier and nowadays anyone can play it in koodiyattam, nangiar koothu, chakyar koothu, and thayambaka.

How to play this instrument?

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How to make this instrument?

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The drum is played only with hands. The Sanskrit name of nambiar “Panivada” (‘pani’ means hands and ‘vada’ comes from the verb ‘vadanam’ meaning playing, altogether meaning the one who plays with hands) comes from this reason.

It is treated as a “Brahmachaarya” and it is considered as sacred. It is used to accompany the holy ritualistic temple performance of Koodiyattam and Koothu. Only Ambalavasi Nambiar community members are allowed to play it inside temples or Koothambalams still.