Published On:29 September 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Wedding dance with a history

Oppana dance is performed during Muslim weddings in Kerala. In some forms of this dance, women move in circles around the bride while men sing songs to receive the bridegroom.

By KDL Khan

Light mopla (colloquial term for Kerala Muslims) songs that suit the tempo of the dance are usually chosen for these dances. The songs of mappilappattu are sung by the group leader and then joined by the group.

Today, in every district of Kerala, there are Oppana troupes which can be hired for a price. Keralites settled abroad too make it a point to have Oppana troupes perform at their functions, thus giving it the status the other well-known dance forms enjoy. Musical instruments like harmonium, tamburine, cymbals and tabla are used as accompaniments for this dance form. There are two kinds of Oppana dance — Oppana Chayal and Oppana Murukkam. Though, predominantly performed by women, men too perform Oppana on certain occasions.

Owing to the entertaining quality of this dance form, it is not only performed during weddings, but also during stage shows. This new status for Oppana can be attributed to the encouragement it has received from the increasingly rich Muslim community and also to Indian educational institutions where Oppana is accorded as much importance as any other art form including Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Margham Kali, etc.

Oppana, in its modern form, owes much to U V Muhammad Ali who has done for Oppana what Rukmini Devi did for Bharatnatyam and Guru Birju Maharaja for Odissi. As a young boy growing up in Kozhikode, Muhammad Ali found himself fascinated by this dance form.

He then set about collecting information on the art form and gradually built up a repertoire of authentic Oppana songs. He even got old Muslim women to teach him traditional steps of Oppana. That was nearly 35 years ago. Today, Muhammad Ali is the last word in Oppana. His Oppana troupe has performed all over India and in Russia too.

He has also choreographed Oppana dance sequences in a number of films.

“I never thought I could accomplish so much. Neither did I intend to; all I wanted to do was show the world the real Oppana,” he muses. He is convinced that Oppana has the potential to entertain wider audiences. So be it.

(Courtesy: Deccan Herald)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on September 29, 2011. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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