Panchari Melam/melam called panchari during the annual Shivaratri temple festival

melam can be performed with a variety of rhythmic structures and cycles, but each performance is regarded as the ritualistic and cultural climax of any temple festival in Kerala. The panchari melam could be depicted in a pyramid form; it starts in a very slow tempo with long musical cycles, and finishes with a short, fast and powerful climax. Usually Kerala musicians explain the symbolic meaning of the melam structure as follows: the broad basis of the first stage symbolises the ordinary life of men, while the peak of the last stage shows the ideal human or divine aspect of reality. The musicians and aficionados regard panchari melam as the most spiritual of all melams. The rhythmic cycles of this melam contain 96, 48, 24, 12 and 6 beats. This recording has been taken from the end of the third cycle, which uses the 24-beat rhythmic cycle. The orchestra consists of seven centra (treble), nine ilatalam (cymbal), five kombu (horn), ten centa (bass), and five kulal (oboe) players