PEOPLE & CULTURE
One of India's most literate and socially advanced, the people of Kerala enjoy a unique cosmopolitan viewpoint, which is reflected in their spirit of tolerance and catholicity of outlook. This can be attributed to Kerala's composite culture to which several lands and races from across the world have contributed significantly.
Through the ages, Kerala has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to new traditions and values in almost every sphere of human thought and endeavour. This positive response to changes and challenges is what sets the Keralan people as well as the society apart.
Keralites have a high degree of awareness and political consciousness. In the field of education too, Keralites hold a unique position. The literacy rate for women is one of the highest in all of Asia. Which is perhaps why the women in the State enjoy a privileged status both within the family and society.
Kerala's culture is mainly Dravidian in origin, deriving from a greater Tamil-heritage region known as Tamilakam. Later, Kerala's culture was elaborated on through centuries of contact with overseas cultures. Native performing arts include koodiyattom, kathakali - from katha ("story") and kali ("play") - and its offshoot Kerala natanam, koothu (akin to stand-up comedy), mohiniaattam ("dance of the enchantress"), thullal, padayani, and theyyam. Other arts are more religion- and tribal-themed. These include chavittu nadakom, oppana (originally from Malabar), which combines dance, rhythmic hand clapping, and ishal vocalisations. However, many of these artforms largely play to tourists or at youth festivals, and are not as popular among most ordinary Keralites. These people look to more contemporary art and performance styles, including those employing mimicry and parody. Additionally, a substantial Malayalam film industry effectively competes against both Bollywood and Hollywood.