"Karagam is a folk dance with musical accompaniment, performed balancing a pot on the head. Traditionally, this dance was performed by the villagers in praise of the rain goddess Mari Amman and river goddess, Gangai Amman, performed with literature with water pots balanced on their heads. In Sangam literature, it is mentioned as 'Kudakoothu'.
This dance has two divisions - one, Aatta Karagam and the other 'Sakthi Karagam'. More often it is danced with decorated pots on the head and is known as 'Aatta Karagam' and symbolises joy and merriment. The former is performed only in temples, while the latter is mainly entertainment in nature. This is one of the more popular rural dances today. Earlier it was performed only with accompliment of the Naiyandi Melam but now it includes songs also.
Karagams were once performed for mulaipari ceremony when the dancer carried a pot of sprouted grains on his/her head and danced, balancing it through intricate steps and body/arm movements. Today, the pots have transformed from mud pots to bronzeware and even stainless steel in modern times. The pots are decorated with a cone of flower arragements, topped by a paper parrot. The parrot rotates as the dancer swings along. This dance is very popular all over Tamilnadu, though its birth place is said to be Thanjavur." http://www.tamilselvi.com/Karagam.htm
Here's a video of a Karagam procession that started in front of our house. You can see decorated cones on top of two young men's heads. Soon they stop at our driveway where two women give an offering of food and ritually wash the dancers feet. After the holy man ends his ritual there, another man begins teaching the young men dance steps.