Mohiniyattam or a similar dance form was mentioned in 16th-century literature Vyavaharamala and the historical records of the Travancore rulers.
Author: Nirmala Paniker
A slew of treatises of yore and temple inscriptions are enough indications of the numerous dance forms staged in temples.
Devadasis were part of Kerala temples as well, shows history, though they were more respected and were even made queens, at times.
The present-day Mohininyattam is a beautiful combination of the Desi aspect of Kerala and the devadasi dance form that came from outside.
Sankaracharya mentions the lasya or grace of the Goddess in several of his verses, while the recurring theme of Mohiniyattam – the pain of a Nayika separated from the Nayaka, can be metaphorically compared to Jīvātma yearning to be reunited with the Paramātma.
The manuals for several Kerala art forms like Koodiyāṭṭaṁ and Nangiārkūttụ are said to have been formed during the age of the Kulasekharas, who followed the Chera dynasty in Kerala. The current day Mohiniyattam can be considered a dance form in the lasya style which imbibed the core principles of many ancient dance forms of Chera influence
The author traces the origins of dance forms involving solo performances by women, such as Mohiniyattam, Thiruvathirakkali and Nangiarkoothu, to folk art forms revolving around the worship of the Mother Goddess and kavus (sacred groves)
There are distinct similarities between the lasya movements and the juggling techniques with a ball, described in the dance performances in the seventh century work Daśhakumāracharitaṁ, and Kerala dance forms like Mohiniyattam and Thiruvathirakkali.
From the Sangham era, the art of dancing had progressed gradually and flourished considerably during the Chera period because of the courtesy, patronage and benevolence by the rulers.
There are enough indicators in Silapathikaram that make us believe that a dance form which was a harbinger of Mohiniyattam was in vogue during those days.