Theory:

Folk Culture And Folklore Of Tamil Nadu
  
     Tamil Nadu is deeply rooted in a great tradition of folk arts and crafts, which display the customs and skills that have come down from generations. The folk music and dances of Tamil Nadu present the ethos, aesthetic, values, and melody of the region. Traditionally, folk dances and music are performed during festivals and community functions. The following article describes some of the folk music styles and dances of Tamil Nadu.

     Karagaattam is a popular folk dance of Tamil Nadu, which involves balancing a pot on the head to musical accompaniment. The Karagam pots are decorated with a cone of flower arrangements, topped by a paper parrot. The parrot swings as the dancer swings along. Karagaattam has two divisions— atta karagam and sakthi karagam. This form of dance is very popular all over Tamil Nadu. Both male and female performers participate in this dance. Acrobatics such as dancing on a rolling block of wood, moving up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backward form a part of this dance.
 
     Kavadi Aattam is one of the predominant folk dances of Tamil Nadu. When the ancient Tamils went on pilgrimages, they used to carry offerings tied on either end of a long stick, balanced on their shoulders. A kavadi is made of bamboo strips and a light pole. To lessen the boredom of the long travel, they sing and dance in praise of God. Kavadi Aattam traces its origin to this practice. This led to the composition of special songs for carrying the kavadi.
 
     Poikkal Kudhirai Aattam is a dance in which the dancer puts on the dummy figure of a horse on his / her hips. This folk dance needs a lot of training and skill. The dummy is made of lightweight materials and the cloth at the sides of the dummy swings to and fro covering the legs of the dancer who dons wooden legs so that they look like the hooves of the horse. While performing, the dancer brandishes either a sword or a whip.
 
Parai Aattam is a special type of dance in Tamil culture in which the performers beat the parai and dance to its rhythm. This is one of the oldest traditional dances. In olden days, the parai was used for multiple reasons, ranging from warning people about the upcoming war, requesting civilians to leave the battlefield, announcing victory or defeat, stopping a breach of a water body, gathering farmers for farming activities, warning wild animals about human presence, during festivals, weddings, celebrations, worship of nature and so on. Parai Attam plays a prominent part in all the celebrations in Tamil Nadu even today.
 
     Bommalaattam or Puppetry is held in rural areas of Tamil Nadu during festivals and fairs. Skilled puppeteers manipulate the puppets with strings or wires. They stand behind a screen and the puppets are held in front. The puppetry depicts stories mainly from the Puranas, epics and folklore. Even during Indian freedom struggle awareness programmes for the common people were conducted through puppet shows to instill patriotism among the people.

     Therukoothu is usually conducted during village festivals in the months of Aadi and Panguni. Theru koothu is performed on the streets and in open air. In this dance form, make-up and costumes are considered very important. The performance involves storytelling, songs, dance and dialogue rendering. The performances are based on stories from Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the local folklore.
 
     Silambaattam is a martial art form, practiced from the days of the Tamil kings. It has metamorphosed into a non-violent form of folk dance, adding stepping styles into the dance to the measure of time. This martial art form also teaches the performer the methods of self-defense.
Reference:
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2018). Term-1 English Standard-9. Folklore (pp. 134-136). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.