A performing art form that is quite popular in the northern districts of Kerala, Theyyam is a ritual dance form that embodies myth, dance, drama, music, art and architecture. The word Theyyam comes from Deivam that stands for God in Malayalam.
A performer of Theyyam is considered as a medium between the supernatural and the mortals. This form of worship has a lot to do with the various practices of tribal worship. Theyyams come in dazzling costumes, marked by headgears of varying size and a predominance of red colour for the facial make-up. The performers resort to a unique dialect. The costumes of each Theyyam would vary according to the role and myth of the forms. The facial make-up itself would speak volumes about the nature of a particular Theyyam. All the costumes are prepared by the artistes themselves by using locally available materials.
In the Malabar region of Kerala, the districts of Kannur and Kasaragod are where one would come across various forms of Theyyams, that once numbered about 900; but nowadays they have been reduced to under 500. Myth of the Theyyam relates to worships of ancestors, heroes, Mother Goddess, animals, serpents and trees with rituals differing in each form.
During the course of a Theyyam performance, the story is sung in the form of narrative songs by the performer to the accompaniment of the chenda (traditional percussion) and ilathalam (traditional cymbals) prior to the performance. After finishing the song, the performer goes to the green room for make-up and costumes.
In Malabar, every year, from December to May, the many sacred groves attached to the ancestral houses (tharavadu) and temples in the region come alive with the sound of anklets, signaling the arrival of Theyyams.
This year's Theyyam season in Kerala is fast approaching and we would like to invite our readers' attention to two major Theyyam performances that would take place in the month of December 2010 at Perumthitta and Kanathur Nalwar Bhoothastahnam; both in the district of Kasaragod.
Venue: Perumthitta near Chandrapuram in Kasaragod district.
Date: Dec 07 - 16, 2010
This Theyyam performance takes place at Perumthitta Tharavadu (tharavadu means ancestral house) in Kottamkuzhy.
Theyyam festival in Perumithitta Tharavadu is a spectacular one. This Theyyam festival is one of the most popular among Theyyam festivals in Kerala, where one can watch many forms of Theyyam. It is truly a grand occasion for Theyyams and during the ten-day festival, a variety of Theyyam performances can be witnessed at Perumthitta.
This annual festival is a huge crowd puller.
Nearest railway station: Kasaragod, about 26 km away.
Nearest airport: Mangalore, about 50 km away.
By road: Bekal-Palakunnu-Mudiyakkal-Chandrapuram-Perumthitta.
Venue: Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam, Kasaragod district.
Date: Dec 28, 2010 - Jan 01, 2011
This is yet another spectacle among the many Theyyam festivals that take place in the Malabar region of Kerala. An array of Theyyams, including Chamundi, Vishnumoorthy and others are presented during the annual Theyyam festival at the Kanathoor Nalvar Bhoothasthanam in Kasaragod district of Kerala.
Nearest railway station: Kasaragod, about 20 km away.
Nearest airport: Mangalore about 50 km away.
To watch Theyyam video click here