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The ancient history of Kerala is shrouded in the mists of tradition. The most popular legend would have it that the land crust that forms the State was raised from the depths of the ocean. Parasurama, the Brahmin avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, had waged an epic series of vengeful wars on the Kshatriyas. Came a moment when Parasurama was struck by remorse at the wanton annihilation he had wrought. He offered severe penance atop the mountain heights. In a mood of profound atonement, the sage heaved his mighty axes into the midst of the distant ocean. The waves foamed and frothed as a prawn-shaped land extending from Gokarnam to Kanyakumari surfaced from the depths of the sea to form the state and hence the sobriquet - "Gods own Country".
Culture. Among the people who have enriched Indian Cultural Heritage and helped the cause of national integration, the people of the Kerala region of South India have a place of honour. Kerala culture is in fact, an integral part of Indian culture. Kerala like the Indian sub continent can claim to have a culture the history of which runs into the dim recesses of antiquity.
Kerala’s culture is also a composite and cosmopolitan culture to which several people and races have made their significant contributions. The gradual evolution of composite and cosmopolitans culture led to the emergence of a spirit of tolerance and catholicity of outlook, which still persist among the people of Kerala. Its history unfolds the romantic and fascinating story of a unique process of cultural synthesis and social assimilation. In response to every challenge Kerala has demonstrated through the ages its genius for adaptation and fusion of old traditions and new values in every sphere of human thought and endeavour.
The culture of Kerala has persisted through the ages precisely for the reasons of antiquity, unity, continuity and universality of its nature. In its widest sense it embraces the highest achievements of the human spirit in every sphere of life. Thus, in its totality, it represents the quintessence of the collective achievements of a people in the fields of religion and philosophy, language and literature, art and architecture, education and learning and economic and social organisation. In fact, all through its history the genius of Kerala has blossomed forth in all its vigour and vitality and has helped its people to reach the peak of excellence in all their endeavours.
The culture of Kerala sprouted as a combination of Aryan and Dravidian influences. In the later ages, the culture of Kerala was expanded by the contact with the neighbouring regions and overseas cultures, which also gave it more vibrancy.
The Dravidians, the ancient rulers of 'God's Own Country', had left a great cultural legacy, whose reflections are still very much evident in the customs and heritage of this fascinating land. Majority of the people in Kerala are Hindus. However, there are significant communities of Muslims and Christians. Kerala is world-famous for its performing arts, which is an interesting combination of music, dance, mythology and theater. The classical dances in Kerala are Mohiniattam and Kathakali.