History of Theyyam Art Form

Theyyam's origins are said to be from the ancient art form of Kaliyattam. It is said that Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the founder of the State, sanctioned festivals like Kaliyattam, Puravela and Daivattam or Theyyattam to the northern citizens of the State. The responsibility and culture of Theyyam was given to the indigenous tribal communities and from here the great stories, heroes and worship of celestial beings began. These first chosen communities included the Malayar, Pana, Vannan and Velan. Velan get special mention in Sangam literature, where they were employed by the mothers of love struck girls to exorcise the malignant spirits from their wards. Velan and other dancing communities took charge of the rituals and tradition surrounding Sangam customs, and from here on out the evolution of modern day Theyyam began.

Its 1500 year old heritage finds some of its oldest roots in the earliest periods of Neolithic, Chalcolithic settlement and expression. It is a representative of a form of Hinduism practiced by the tribal communities since ancient times, and was overall considered a Dravidian art form. Though sponsored by members of the upper class and ruling class families, the artisans hailed from low-caste communities such as Malayan or Vanaan and this would act as the great equalizer of the course of history. This deep rooted tribal art form is now among the most loved cultural masterpieces across God's Own Country.




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