Survey, Mapping and Documentation of Performing Arts Forms of Lakshadweep

RATHEED (DIKAR) is a form of religious performance conducted by the islanders to invoke the blessings of preceptors like Mohiddin Thangal and Raffai Thangal. The ritual consists of acts like piercing parts of one's own body - the tongue, the ear, and the stomach - with knives and sharp-edged steel tools. Hymns known as Byths or Ratheebs are sung during the ritual.

There are more than twenty different Byths being performed. Duff is the key musical instrument used during the
performance. The followers and protagonists of the ritual believe that even though injuries are inflicted on the bodies of the performers by weapons, these do not cause pain or damage to the body. They believe that since the ritual is performed by devotees who have received Ijazath (permission) from their Sheikh (deity), it will not cause injuries.

Ratheeb and Maulood are performed before undertaking new ventures like the construction of houses, building of Odams (sailing crafts), etc.

KATUVILI  is a ritual dance performed with songs called Kattuvili addressed to the wind. In the earlier days, the only means of transport between the islands and the mainland were sailing crafts called Odams which required a steady wind for sailing. When the sea was completely calm, the Odam would drift in the ocean current and fail to reach its destination. On such occasions, the ladies of the community sing and dance
requesting the wind to blow in the right direction which would ensure that their beloved reach the shore. It is in a way a cry for help by the women, which in course of time became a ritual performance. With the coming of mechanized boats, however, this ritual performance has lost its significance.