Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala


Alamikali was a popular regional art form in Kasaragod, performed by ‘Alamis’, soldiers of Tipu’s army. Alamikali was celebrated to commemorate the Karbala war, an important event in the history of Islam.

The Alami players dressed and painted by black with charcoal and white dots in between. They will wear garlands of fruits and leaves and long hats on the head decorated with red chrysanthemum flowers. Costume of alamikali is dhotis, reaching upto the knee and carrying wield small sticks with bells attached they visit houses andance in squares drawn on the ground and receive alms. Being wanderers, the Alamis go about singing songs based on rhythm, a feature of Alamikali. The Alamikali function / ritual comes to an end on the tenth day of Muharam.

A confluence of different cultures can be discerned in this art form. With non-Islamic rituals finding way into Alamikali, the Alamis had to face stiff opposition and religious restrictions. Gradually, the Muslim community alienated itself from Alamikali. In a proclamation published in newspapers, Alamikali was banned in 1963.

Some of the cross cultures that could be noticed in Alamikali were idol worship, circumambulating the fire (agni pradakshinam), deities mounted on elephants in processions, etc. Alamikali which went beyond religious barriers was in essence a study in togetherness.  Even to this day Alamikali remains a beacon of light in the annals of human history.

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