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      Theyyam is a synonym for ‘Daivam’ meaning ‘God’. It is a ritualistic performing art form, the dance divine, presented in a unique style. The appearance of the performing artist as Theyya kolam is in a vividly coloured costume, which is bewitching and adds to the aura of the divinity, he has imbibed while indulging in such a sacred act. This is really an inspired submission to the will and glory of the almighty, worshipped as a deity. In the dance of the divine the performer turns out to be the visual incarnate of the God or the goddesses whose benevolence all the devotees seek for.

      This art form might have developed from the religious convictions of the village folk which had animism as its under tone. The origin may be traced to circa 550 B.C. its traits could be found at an earlier period dating back to a few thousand years. At that period hunting was the prime occupation for their livelihood and its hazardous nature made them fear and worship the effulgent glory of the mother earth. They carried with them their beliefs and traditions as they moved to become a semi agrarian society.The themes that they wanted to explicate have its roots in myths, stories from Vedic literature, local happenings and their conviction that they should adore heroism and valer. They also believe demeanors and folony have to be punished. They also wanted to express the strong resentment against social, injustice and inequality. Their strong faith in divine entity compelled them to give equal status for the hunted and the hunter.

    All traditional art forms depict the trials and tribulations of an upcoming society. Theyyam therefore is an art form which stands for their hopes and aspirations, their pain and agonies. This creates an unconditional social bondedness. The performers as well as the spectators participate in the divine awakening and mesmerizes and transforms themselves to a higher realm of inner beauty bear the soul and body merges with the divinity. It is as if agony is turned into ecstasy. This experience cannot be recaptured in words and is only visible to the one who could immerse in the fundamental rhythm of life. Let us note that it is the real basis of life’s sustenance.

   The artifacts used in Theyyam kolam are distinctively different for each kolam. There are more than 400 different varieties of Theyyam kolams. Most of the theyyam kolams have crown like head gears, ornated breast plates metallic and gold painted wooden bangles. The attire that covers from the waste to the knee is made of tender palm leaves. The face makeups are comparable to those found in Kathakali artists. They have usually dark eye lines which enhances the facial appearance of the performer. The appearance of each Thayyam kolam is different depending upon the thematic expression of the content that they wanted to expound. Sometimes the folk songs which are sung during the performance reveals the theme and story of the performance. The costumes are vividly coloured. Red, black, white as well as yellow tinged colour of the tender palm leaves are the usual ones to add the beauty of the costume. The head wear the facial makeup, the breast plates and the attire they wear around the waist, the ornaments they have on their wrists and on the lower part of the legs are so arranged to produce a magnetic appearance that spells out the dignity and glory of the god they represent.


Theyyam Festival 

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   The Theyyam season commences on the tenth day of the Malayalam month of Thulam, which usually falls in October and is known as "paththaam-udayam." This vibrant cultural tradition extends for seven months, concluding in the middle of the Edavam month, typically around the end of May or the beginning of June.

     To reach the Theyyam festival in Kannur and Kasaragod districts in Kerala, India, you can fly into Kannur International Airport (CNN), which is the nearest airport to the region. Kannur International Airport is well-connected to major cities in India and some international destinations. After landing at the airport, you can easily hire a taxi or use local transportation options to reach the festival venues in Kannur and Kasaragod. This airport provides convenient access for travelers attending the Theyyam festival in this region.

Season : October to Beginning of June

"I organized a five-day exhibition in Kerala last February, featuring photographs taken by me. Here are a few of the images that were on display during the event.


"                   Sarin Raghuraman

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