is a popular folk dance all over Tamil Nadu though its
birthplace is said to be Thanjavur.
Karagam is performed balancing a pot on the head. Traditionally, the
villagers in praise of the Rain Goddess Mari Amman and River Goddess,
Gangai Ammana, performed this dance. In 'Sangam' literature, it is
mentioned as "Kudakoothu". 'Karagam' has two divisions; "Atta
Kragram" and the other "Shakti Karagam" performed with fire
pot on the head.
In Mariamman or Durga temple as ritual dance, it is called 'Shakti Karagam'. More often it is danced with decorated pot on the head and is known as "Atta Karagam' and symbolises joy and, merriment. Earlier it was performed only with accompaniment of the Naiyandi Melam but now it includes songs also.
Karagam is performed in the temple and on festivals occasions as entertainment. But Karagams were once performed for 'Mulaipari' ceremony; the dancer used to carry a pot of sprouted grains on the head, and danced balancing it through intricate steps and movements.
Today, the pots have transformed from mud pots to bronzeware and even stainless steel in modern times. The pots are decorated with a cone of flower arrangements, topped by a paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer swings along.
Both male and female performers participate in this. Acrobatics similar to circus are included-such as, dancing on a rolling block of wood, up and down a ladder, threading a needle while bending backwards and so on.