Hourglass shaped drum (udukku) with wooden body and hide membranes secured with black nylon string. The lower membrane has a thin nylon snare. The red textile strap (2001.175.3) is detached, but once had been secured around the drum, ending in a tassel of red, burgundy, blue and bright pink dyed wool.
The skin opposite the snare head is struck by the index and middle finger of the right hand. The drum is held in the left hand with the index finger touching the shell underneath the lacing. A slight movement of the thumb squeezes the lacing on which it rests, increasing the tension of the head, and raising the pitch of the notes that it plays. The drum provides an accompanying rhythm for devotional singing in praise of the Hindu deity, Ayyappa. This is performed in temples in Kerala at festivals such as Ayyappa velakke, as pilgrims leave for the temple of Ayyappa in Sabarimalai, South Kerala. At these festivals the story of Ayyappan’s life is re-enacted. The cult around the god Ayyappa has become popular in the last 15 years.