Since the 7th century, Kerala has the influence of Islam from Arab nations. Since then Islam mingled and assimilated to the Kerala culture, from where a new community born called Mappilla. Duff Muttu or Dubh Muttu or Duff Kali is a popular Muslim dance form in the northern part of Kerala. Northern Kerala has a huge number of Muslim Population. So Duff Muttu is one of the popular Muslim Dance Forms in this region. The name derives from the Duff (percussion instrument) which is made of wood and Ox skin. Duff is an Arabic name and it is also known as Thappitta. Duff Muttu is unique because of its magic and charisma.
Duff Muttu is a Muslim Dance Form usually performed during their festivals or as social entertainment. During wedding and Uroos (Muslim festival) they perform Duff Muttu. This can be performed at any time of a day. It is performed by a group of six people. Each of them sits or stands to face each other and sings a song and moves their body as per the rhythm of the song. The rhythm will be set by the beat of Duff. They usually sing songs of Islamic Heroes and Martyr as a tribute. The main player leads the group in song and others help with Chorus. In Duff Muttu, dancers drum the duff with fingers and palm. Sometimes they toss Duff above their head. Dance and rhythmic songs are the main attractions of Duff Muttu. Aravana Muttu and Arbana Muttu are much closed to Duff Muttu. Drum called Arbana is also similar to Duff.
Oppana is another popular Muslim dance form. Oppana is very common in Northern Malabar region of Kerala. The name is derived from Arabic word ‘Afna’. It says that Oppana has connections with Ishal. Ishal is actually a music element of Mappilappatu, which is also a very famous art form of Muslims. Oppana pattu is derived from Tamil word Oppanai Pattu. This is usually performed by the ladies. But gents can also perform Oppna, in a different way. The Muslim women perform Oppana during weddings and puberty functions. Oppana has both dance and song in it.
Oppana is similar to Kaikottikkali which is popular among the Hindu women. One of the main elements of Oppana and Kaikottikkali is clapping while dancing. But if you observe it deeply you will know that it has more links with Arabian countries.
A group of 15 women including singers perform the Muslim dance form of Oppana. On the wedding day, the bride will be dressed in a ceremonial dress, covered with gold ornaments. Her feet and palm will be adorned with Mylanchi or Henna. The bride sits in the middle of a circle created by the performers. The seat where Bride sits is known as Peetam. First, only two or three girls start singing and later all will join and start performing together. They clap, sing and move with the rhythm of music and song. It goes on till midnight and people really enjoy this Muslim dance form.
Two types of Oppana are there one is Oppana Chayal and Oppana Murukkam. In Oppana Murukkam, there is no clap, only hand movements are there. Usually, the theme of the song will be teasing the bride by hinting to the marital happiness and the shy bride’s emotions. The language used in Oppana is a combination of Malayalam and Arabic. Tabla, Tamburine and Harmonium are the instruments used in Oppana. A different version of Oppana is one which is performed by the boys at Bridegroom’s house. They boost the confidence and praise the bridegroom by singing and dancing. They perform this on the eve of the wedding. Oppana starts and ends with Chayaals.
Featured Photo by Kerala Tourism