The Arjuna Nirtham also known as Mayilpeeli Thookam, is a ritual art of Kerala performed in the night the Bhagavati temples of south Kerala, mainly at Kollam, Alappuzha and Kottayam.
The belief is that soon after the Kurukshetra war, Arjuna danced before Bhadrakaali in order to appease her. The costume includes a characteristic garment made of mayilppeeli (peacock feathers) worn around the waist in a similar fashion as the uduthukettu of Kathakali . The performers have their faces painted green and wear distinctive headgears.
The songs which are strictly rhythm based are called Kavithangal and deal with various themes of the Puranas (ancient Hindu scriptures). Each Kavitham is composed to suit a specific rhythm. Before each song the dancers explain the intricacies of the particular rhythm about to be employed and how this rhythm is translated into dance movements.
The various dance movements are closely similar to Kalarippayattu techniques. Percussion instruments like the chenda, maddalam, talachenda and ilathalam (cymbal) form the musical accompaniment.
Arjuna Nrittha Kalaalayam, who are performing this for ITFoK 2018, is a centre for training people in this art form which was started in 1988 in Kurichi in Kottayam District of Kerala by Late Shri Kurichi P.S.Kumaran. It is now run under his son Shri Kurichi Natesan. They have performed this in all parts of India.