Theyyam: Where Art meets Ritual!

Our rituals and festivals has its own charm, be it any state in India each of them have their own uniqueness in their culture, traditions and festival. Being a Keralite and living in North India we miss most of the festivals and rituals in Kerala, but we have grown up watching them. Most of them fascinates me and the story behind them are truly amazing.

Have you heard about an art form called Theyyam? Theyyam is a popular ritual art form which is a way to worship God, performed in northern parts of Kerala, most prominent in the districts of Kasargod and Kannur. A person who performs the ‘Theyyam’ is called “Koladhari”, who is considered as an Oracle god, who listens to our worries and guides us. They perform the Theyyam in the form of dance along with traditional folk music and mime with bright colourful costumes and body paint. The face and body paintings you see on Theyyam are one of the most amazing piece of art and the whole atmosphere will take you to a totally different divine world.

saasthapan
Saasthapan
Vishu Moorthy
Vishu Moorthy

There are around 400 varieties of Theyyams so does costumes, face paints, head gear differs accordingly. Most of the Theyyam’s are performed by men. The ritual is performed in open air in front of the shrines or Kaavu (Sacred place similar to temple) for the prosperity of the society and the family. It’s not like just any form of dance. In Theyyam the performer does rigorous fasting and makes himself prepared for this auspicious ritual. Theyyam’s are conducted only during the month of  October to May .Certain rituals can be pretty scary sometimes because it includes walking through the pyre, or flames etc.

In earlier days there were no documentation , these traditions were passed on through generations. These theyyams are performed by members of certain caste and these ritualistic art form is not taught or shared with others outside the family in order to maintain the divinity.Do share your thoughts on this ritual art and also let me know if we have missed out any valuable point.

koladhari getting ready
koladhari getting ready

Now let me introduce you guys to our friend Sumal, a Software engineer by profession and a photographer by passion, Below are few incredible captures of Theyyam through his magical Lens. For more pictures do visit

Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/skvfotomania/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sumalkv/

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Thootumkara Bhagavathy Theyyam
Thootumkara Bhagavathy Theyyam
Vasoorimaala bhagavathy
Vasoorimaala bhagavathy
Pottan Daivam
Pottan Daivam
saasthapan
saasthapan
Chilambu ( a kind of anklet)
Chilambu ( a kind of anklet)
Behind the scene
Behind the scene

Wayanad Kulavan Daivam

karin chaamundi
karin chaamundi
Bali vellattam
Bali vellattam

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Pulamaaruthan Mattummal Kalari
Pulamaaruthan
Mattummal Kalari

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Kathivannoor Veeran payat
Kathivannoor Veeran payat
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