Mainly performed by a community known as “Mappila” in the southern part of India is a dance form called Oppana. This dance form belonging to the “Muslim community” has originated from the state of Kerala in the Malappuram district. It was said to have been created specifically to honour the “brides” during marriages. In addition, this dance form mostly involves female performers. Furthermore, this style of dancing was once considered extremely popular in Tamil Nadu, but is now unfortunately extinct in the state. This dance form also at times (rarely) is performed by males with the sole intention of providing entertainment to the “bridegroom” before marriage.
a. History/origin of Oppana:
There is not much background information available with regards to the history behind the creation of this dance form. The only real known fact in relation to the origin of this of dance style is, that it was developed to be performed specifically during a marriage in a Muslim household located in the Malappuram district.
b. Costumes used in the Oppana:
The costume used by the female performers in this dance form includes, a green coloured dress that covers the upper part of the body, a white coloured pyjama that covers the lower half of the body, and a type of headgear worn on the head.
c. Music involved in the Oppana:
The music produced for the dance form essentially involves the use of musical instruments such as the harmonium, tabla, ganjira, and elathaalam (i.e. pair of cymbals). In addition, the song used along with the music composed essentially belongs to the “Mappila” community. Furthermore, the song for this dance form is basically sung by two or three performers while the rest serve as the chorus.
d. Training availability and dance technique involved in the Oppana:
In this dance form, the performers will form a circle around the bride who will be positioned in the centre. These performers surrounding the bride will then sing and dance rhythmically to the beats of the music. In addition, while dancing the performers also clap along according to the rhythm of the music. As for training centres/schools, there are none available neither in the country nor in the state because, this dance form has been developed and passed from one generation to another within the “Mappila” community itself.