Kathakali, this spectacular classical dance drama of Kerala based on the guidelines laid by sage bharatha's natya sastra, the ancient treatise on dance and drama, is over 500 years old. Kathakali is the most refined, most scientific and elaborately defined dance form of Kerala. It is a very exciting art form demanding not only complete control of practically every fibre of the artiste’s body, but also intense sensitivity of emotion. This elaborate art form is usually performed in the evenings and continues up to dawn, and is an integral part of all temple and cultural festivals in Kerala. The costumes and makeup are ornamental, elaborate and designed to give a superhuman effect. The actors do not speak or sing but enact the story through mudras (hand gestures), graceful movements and facial expressions. The themes of this awe inspiring art are taken from India's rich and colorful mythology. Music is an essential feature of Kathakali, with two vocalists who sing to the accompaniment of a chengila (gong), elathalam (small cymbals), chenda and maddalam.