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Kappal Paatu

From Tamil Wiki

இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: கப்பல் பாட்டு

The art of Kappal paatu, which is not in vogue currently, was held along with Karagattam and as an event by itself at the temples of local deities. This art was called Kappal paatu [1]or odam paatu because three people would sit and perform in a cage that looked similar to a ship or a raft. This art was performed in the temples of the local deities in the Tirunelveli district.

Method of Conduct

Kappal paatu, a segment of Karagattam[2], often takes place as a solo event. It would usually be performed in a place where the women of the village did not frequently visit. The women would not participate if it was performed at the festivals held in the temples of the local deities.

This theatrical style of art was performed by three men. One of those three men would be a young adult who played the son-in-law. The other would be disguised as a woman; he played the mother-in-law. The third person would be neutral, he would talk humorously and made the crowd laugh. He would most often dress up as a clown and sit in a caged vehicle that resembled a ship. The son-in-law and mother-in-law would sit on either sides of the vehicle, symbolizing their difference in opinions.

The mother-in-law would raise her pallu [3]and start to talk obscenely. On seeing this, the clown would reply, "What my lady? It became big only after your son-in-law touched. Is this even new?". After which the son-in-law would begin to respond. He would subtly tell about his mother-in-law’s perverted desires. The clown, being a moderator, would interpret the son-in-law’s response. This continues.

The son-in-law and mother-in-law would take turns to talk. The clown would give an explanation for their conversation. In the course of the play, the two speak in a double meaning. The clown gives a double meaning explanation for their double meaning conversations. This is performed as a small segment of Karagattam. It also used to take place through the night when it was performed as a separate event.

This art is not performed anymore.


  • Son-in-law - Young artist. Sits at one end of the ship.
  • Mother-in-law - A man disguised as a woman. Sits at the other end of the ship.
  • Clown - Sits in between them, in a cage.

Make up

The person disguised as a woman in this event will have a women’s hairstyle, make-up, and costume. The clown will wear a clown’s costume and a clown’s mask.


  • Tirunelveli District


It is performed in a place where women are not present, and at festivals held at the temples of the local deities.


  • தமிழக நாட்டார் நிகழ்த்துக் கலைகள் களஞ்சியம் - அ.கா.பெருமாள்
  • Tamil Virtual University

✅Finalised Page

  1. Meaning: Boat song Kappal means boat or ship and Paatu means song
  2. folk dance performed with a decorated pot balanced on the head
  3. section of saree covering chest or breast