Renowned all over the world, the magnificent Kathakali dance is one of the seven classical forms in India. Originating about 300 years ago, it is a blend of dance, music, drama, devotion, make-up and costumes. Woven so as to represent tales of the past and scenes from the Indian epics, the dance leaves spectators in awe.

As the dancers dive into an intricate series of steps and motions, they mesmerise the audience not just with their moves but also their elaborately painted faces. The make-up of the artistes depends on the character they are depicting like gods, saints, goddesses, animals and demons.

A dancer, with bright coral-red lips, depicts gods and noble characters like Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Meanwhile, make-up with saffron, yellow or orange hues depicts female characters like Goddess Sita and Draupadi. A divine character is identified with a white beard, while the colour for women and monks is yellow. The black colour is used to represent hunters and demons. Dancers don masks and headgear that help them emphasise their make-up. It takes several hours to complete the make-up of the dancers.

The performers dance to the tune of various musical instruments, of which 'cempata' is used in sequences of a fight between the good and the evil or at the conclusion of a scene. 'Atanta' is used during scenes of divine characters, while �Muri Atanta� is used during comic and light-hearted acts.