A double headed cylinder drum, played usually with sticks. This drum is very important in Kerala. It's the chief accompaniment in Kathakali, the classical dance form, and the most important instrument played in temple festivals.


References to Madhalam date back to the 13th century. It is considered to be a divine instrument, due to its inclusion as a major accompaniment in the dance of Shiva. Maddalam is a barrel shaped, double headed hand drum. There are two types: one is smaller and is worn around the neck, the larger one is tied onto the waist with a cloth.






Drums and Rhythms of Kerala


(Photo of Chenda drummers at left courtesy of Seby Varghese Thokkadam)

Kerala is a State in the southern part of India with a wonderfully musical culture. We've recently recieved some helpful correspondence from Matthew Paul, a drummer living in Kerala, and will be developing this page as time goes on..Thanks in the meantime to Matthew Paul for this story:

A folk story from Kerala

Once a temple drummer,after his duty at the temple was returning home.

It was dark . He was walking through a forest area. Then he saw a white figure under a
palm tree. It was a Yakshi turned herself in to a beautiful girl. (A Yakshi is a witch who lives on the palm trees. they eat humans. If you have an iron piece with you then she will not touch you. People used to carry small iron rods with them once when they go out in the night). The drummer saw the beauty in the light of the lamp he was carrying.

She asked him a bettal leaf to chew. Poor drummer placed his drum on a rock and also he kept the iron rod he was carrying with the drum. When he was about to take the bettal leaf from his waist pouch, she blew out the lamp.

It was dark. That night forest heard cries. Drum kept on drumming by itself for help. but the night did not answer.

Next morning people saw a broken drum . also they saw fresh bones under a tall palm

Chenda Melam , Kerala

Listen to Kerala music:

The most representative CD currently available is the excellent Ritual Percussion of Kerala Volume 2

(Volume 1 is also very good.)

Kerala food is wonderful. We highly recommend this cookbook:

Savoring the Spice Coast of India : Fresh Flavors from Kerala

Top 20 recommended Indian music CDs.


Previous Page | Contact | Home

© 1996-2008 Eric Stuer All rights reserved

P.O. Box 836711 Richardson TX 75083
are trademarks, and any unauthorized use of the names is a violation of applicable law.