The Chenda melam is the most widely performed keshtra vadhyas (songs or programmes based on temples festivals) of south India. Irrespective of cast or religion, the melam have been an important part of every Kerala festival for over 300 years old. The most important among these melams are Pandy and Panchari, which may extend up to 5 hours. The leading instrument in these compositions is the Chenda, a cylindrical drum that originated in Kerala. The Chenda is divided into Valamthala Chenda & Edamthala Chenda (right & left side of the instrument) or also known as “Veekam Chenda” & “Uruttu Chenda”.
The Chenda often accompanies Kathakali, Koodiyattam and is mainly used in Hindu temple festivals. The double-sided drum is made of soft wood with both ends stretched with tanned animal hide. The drum hangs vertically across the musician’s shoulders and is played by striking the upper face with sandalwood sticks. This instrument is famous for its loud and rigid sound.