Ummattat (ummattAT) (ಉಮ್ಮತ್ತಾಟ್) is a form of folk dance which is practiced exclusively in Coorg district. (KoDagu) The "Ummattat" dance format is believed to have originated in Devanageri in southern Kodagu. This dance with a mythological background is confined only to unmarried women. This is associated with the dance performed by Vishnu in his incarnation as Mohini when he distributes the nectar (Amrita) only to Gods and deprives the demons of their fair share. This is also described as a worship of ‘kAvEramma’ (The river Cauveri) their clan deity. Ummath-Aat is usually performed on festive occasions such as ugaadi, deepavaLi and sankrAnti and on other occasions important to the native people.
The dancers are decked in a unique costume. A red head gear, full sleeved blouses, a saree pleated in the back side, a bead neck lace, bangles and a Kumkum mark constitute the dress required for this dance
The dancers move in a circular motion around a lamp kept at the centre. Occasionally a woman stands at the centre holding a pot of water in her hand representing mother Cauvery. They hold a pair of bronze cymbals which provide the instrumental support. Any number of pairs may participate in this dance. The circular movement continues and the nature of cymbal beats varies. Occasionally the neigbouring dancers come together to produce the sound. Once in a while a standing dancer will bring her cymbals in conjunctions with those of a partner who is sitting. The pace of the movement and the cymbal beats are in cohesion with one another. Fast beats accompanied by rapid movements are very attractive.
The songs are initiated by a few women who do not perform the dance. However, the dancers follow the lead given by the singers and repeat the lines. Most of the songs are in praise of Goddess Cauvery. Ummattat is both a ritual and an amateur art. Of late the songs contain many contemporary elements.