This study explores the relationship of the Hindu religious rituals to the percussion dominated music genres in the south Indian state Kerala. It is both, an introduction to the ritual performances and to the musical styles. It takes up the quest to investigate how ritual meaning is expressed through music, it illuminates aesthetic beauty and the relative independent importance of the musical styles within the ritual context. The study investigates how and why the temple music ensembles are dominated by the ubiquitous drums and bronze cymbals and based on a sophisticated rhythm structure rather than on melody.
Extended fieldwork within a the musician communities in Kerala enabled the author, Rolf Killus, to arrange this work from the viewpoint of the musicians. As there are thousands of hereditary professional temple musicians. As there are thousands of hereditary professional temple musicians in the districts of central Kerala, this work is mainly based on the oral knowledge of these communities, however the few academic accounts of scholars were considered. The musicians' perspective, identified and illustrated through text, photographs, and tables should unfold the diversity of this musical culture. Thus Indian and percussion music aficionados and scholars alike should benefit from this study.