There is a typical costume for Mohini Attam. It is generally simple and white, or off-white. Usually there is a gold brocade, possibly with a border of red. One of the most characteristic signs of the Mohini Attam dancer is the bun of hair worn off-centre. This is very much a characteristic of women from Kerala.The make up is simple and realistic. Nothing garish or loud is worn; the entire ambiance is one of tenderness and refinement. The performers of Mohiniattam dance usually wear an off-white colored sari with gold brocade borders. Hairs of the dancer are gathered in a bun and decorated with jasmine flowers. The Mohiniattam dancer is adorned with Gold Jewellery including necklaces, bangles, waistbands and anklets. The tinkling of the Jewellery produces music as the dancer performs the dance.
|Group of girls performing Mohiniyattam|
The mudras or hand gestures followed are from the Hastalakshanadeepika. The movements are languid and swaying suggestive of the rise and fall of ocean waves from which Mohini was incarnated. The accompanying music is Carnatic essentially. The vocal music of Mohiniyattam involves variations in rhythmic structure known as chollu. The lyrics are in Manipravalam, a mixture of Sanskrit and Malayalam. The Mohiniyattam dance is performed to this accompaniment by the subtle gestures and footwork of the danseuse. The performer uses the eyes in a very coy yet sensual manner, the purpose being to enchant the mind without enticing the senses.
The real beauty of Mohiniyattam comes through only when mature ladies enact the romantic padams specially written to present the Ashta Nayikas: Swadheena Bharthruka, Khanditha, Abhisarika, Vipralabdha, Kalahandtharitha, Vasakasajja, Proshithabharthruka, Viraholkhanditha.