From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Underside of the parai, alongside percussion sticks

The parai is a frame drum about 35 centimeters in diameter. It consists of a shallow ring of wood, covered on one side with a stretched cow hide that is glued to the wooden frame. The preferred wood is neem wood although other types may be used. The shell is made up of three separate pieces of wood each in the shape of an arc. These pieces are held together by three metal plates. The parai is played with two sticks: one long, thin flat bamboo stick (approx. 28 cm) called 'Sindu/ Sundu Kuchi'[1] and a short, thick stick called 'Adi Kucchi'[2] that can be made from any variety of wood (approx. 18 cm)


Video of a boy's parai recital
Parai attam

The parai is slung by a strap over one shoulder (weak/off hand side) and is held vertically by pushing it towards the performer's body. This simple harness allows the drummer to play while standing, walking, or dancing. The Parai is played entirely with two sticks- Adi kuchi (Tamil:அடி குச்சி) and Sundu Kuchi (Tamil:சுண்டு குச்சி).

There are three fundamental strokes from which all of the rhythmic patterns are derived; striking the center of the drum with the shorter stick held in the strong/dominant hand; "slapping" the center of the drum with the long stick held in the weak/off hand; and striking the drum with both sticks, the dominant immediately followed by the off. The short stick (adikuchi) is loosely held between the thumb and three other fingers: index, middle, and ring of the dominant hand. It is held vertically upright, positioned near the lower rim of the drum. The off hand which holds the long stick rests on the upper part of the frame. This stick is positioned at an angle pointed downward. The base of the stick is gripped by the thumb and index fingers and balanced between the middle and ring fingers. The long stick is moved back and forth using the ring finger and thumb respectively

Just before the commencement of every performance, drummers will heat the Parai, holding them extremely close to a small bonfire, so that the heat absorbs the moisture in the drum heads and tightens them considerably. After heating, the drums produce a high pitched loud cracking sound when struck.


  • Otthaiyadi (Tamil: ஒத்தையடி)
  • Thenmangu (Tamil: தென்மாங்கு)
  • Samiaatam (Tamil: சாமியாட்டம்)
  • Thullal (Tamil: துள்ளல்)
  • Uyirppu (Tamil: உயிர்ப்பு)


In Tamil, the word parai means 'to speak' or 'to tell'. It was performed in the courts of Sangam, Chola, and Pandiyan rulers. The drums were used to announce important messages and orders of the great Tamil Kings.
In olden days, parai was used for multiple reasons, ranging from warning people about the upcoming war, requesting the civilians to leave the battlefield, announcing victory or defeat, stopping a breach of water body, gathering farmers for farming activities, warning the wild animals about people's presence, during festivals, wedding, celebrations, worship of nature and so on.[3] Parai has been an instrumental part of the people's life.


  • Ariparai
  • Areriparai
  • Uvagaiparai
  • Saaparai or Sakaatuparai
  • Vettiyanparai
  • Neytharparai
  • Pampai
  • Meenkotparai
  • Maruthanilaparai
  • Kallavadam
  • Kuravaiparai
  • Thadaru
  • Kurumparai
  • Kodukotti
  • Kotparai
  • Thamuku
  • Nisaalam
  • Soosikam
  • Thakkai
  • Thadaari
  • Parathappattai
  • Thalaiparai
  • Padalai
  • Pandaramelam
  • Panriparai
  • Murasu, Veparai
  • Poosatrunnumai
  • Murugiyam
  • Veriyaatuparai
  • Veeranam
  • Panchamasatham

Music and dance ensembles[edit]

  • AathiTamilar kalai kuzhu,Ponneri

Buddhar kalaikuzhu, Vedanthangal [4]

  • ParramParra - Soul Of Sound, Tamil Nadu
  • Tamizhi Kalaikalam- தமிழி கலைக்களம், Tamil Nadu
  • Nayyappudai kalaikuzhu, chennai [5]
  • Maiyam Kalaikuzhu, Chennai [6][7]
  • Sakthi kalaikuzhu, Dindigul [8]
  • Nigar Kalaikoodam, Coimbatore
  • Minnesota Parai Kuzhu, Minnesota (USA)
  • Detroit Unaruyir kalaikoodam, Detroit
  • Nimirvu Kalaiyagam, Coimbatore
  • American Parai Team St. Louis, United States [9]
  • Manudam Parai Ani Connecticut, United States [10]
  • West Michigan Parai Isai Maiam Grand Rapids.. மேற்கு மிச்சிகன் பறையிசை மய்யம் [11]
  • New York Parai Isai Group(NYC). நியூயார்க் பறையிசை குழு(நியூயார்க் நகரம்).
  • Ongu Parai Kuzhu, Charlotte, NC. ஓங்கு பறை குழு, சார்லட், வட கரோலினா [12]
  • Giramiya puthalvan kalainan kulu ;Coimbatore

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "உலகம் முழுக்க பறை ஒலிக்கட்டும்!". Vikatan. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2016.(in Tamil)
  2. ^ "உலகம் முழுக்க பறை ஒலிக்கட்டும்!". Vikatan. 1 January 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2016.(in Tamil)
  3. ^ "Secular and sacred". The Hindu. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "பறை இசைத்து நிமிர்ந்து நில்". The Hindu (in Tamil). 10 April 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]