The Oppana is an important cultural art form among the Muslim community in Kerala. Performed during marriage ceremonies, this ritual dance is synonymous with musical performances and provocative lyrics. Groups of women surround the blushing bride, teasing and serenading her with songs regarding the marital bliss that lies ahead. The clapping motion and swaying movements of the dance are an iconic and integral part of the State, especially in the Northern regions.
The name oppana itself is said to be derived from the Arabic word 'afna', and the language is a combination of Arabic and Malayalam. It is held on other important occasions including the circumcision of boys, first menstruation of girls, and ceremonial bath of woman on the 14th day after parturition etc. Harmonium, Tambourine and Tabla are the instruments used during these performances. Two or three maidens begin the proceedings and soon the rest of the group joins in chorus. It is an entertaining art form that leaves all its viewers spellbound.
Oppana (Malayalam: ഒപ്പന) is a popular form of social entertainment among the Mappila (Kerala Muslims) community of Kerala, South India, prevalent throughout Kerala, especially in Malappuram. The Malayalam word 'Oppana Pattu' is the derivation of the Tamil word 'Oppanai Pattu'. In Tamil, 'Oppanai' means make up. Oppana was originated on the occasion of make of Muslim brides.[clarification needed] Oppana is extinct in Tamil Nadu. But in Kerala, this art form has been revived with much popularity on the performing stages of the Youth Festivals of the student community.
Oppana is generally presented by females, numbering about fifteen, including musicians, on a wedding day. The bride dressed in all finery, covered with gold ornaments and her palms and feet adorned with an intricately woven pattern of mylanchi (henna), sits amidst the circle of dancers. She is the chief spectator sitting on a peetam (chair), around which the singing and dancing take place. While they sing, they clap their hands rhythmically and move around, the bride using simple steps. Two or three girls begin the songs and the rest join in chorus.
Sometime Oppana is also presented by males to entertain the bridegroom. It usually takes place just before the bridegroom leaves for the bride's residence where the Nikah (marriage) takes place or at the time he enters the Maniyara.
Harmonium, tabla, ganjira and elathaalam are the musical instruments employed for this performance. Only the Mappilapaattu will be sung on the occasion.
The word Oppana may have been derived from an Arabic form, Afna. There are two types of Oppana, one is Oppana chayal and another is Oppana murukkam. When Oppana chayal is performed, they do not clap their hands. If it begins with Chayal it would also end with Chayal only.
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