Sunday, October 21, 2012


Theyyam is an ancient, imperishable folk art form of Kerala which is unique in its various aspects like gigantic appearance of effigies,costumes,make-up etc.
There are different types of Theyyams which are all having imposing beauty and charm.
This is a ritualistic art form and the performer   dances  wearing the appropriate effigy and make-up which is  known as 'Theyyattam'.(In Malayalam 
'attam' means dance).Devotees believes that the deity of the respective theyyam  'enters' the body of the performing artist during the dancing.The performer behaves like the deity and interact with the devotees answering to their queries.The devotees confess their mistakes to the theyyam and the
deity of the theyyam 'confides' relevant instructions to the devotees to rectify
their mistakes.
The word for God in Malayalam is 'Deivam' and  by the word theyyam it is referred as 'God' itself.There are more than 300 varieties of Theyyams and there are considerable difference in costumes,headgear used,make-up etc for all of them.The dancing style for theyyam also has different variations,speed and pace.Some theyyam dances and sits on fire,some dances holding torch of flame,some with bow and arrow,some uses sword and shield,some holds dagger and so on.
The percussion instruments used are 'Drums,Cymbals,horns etc.
One day prior to the actual performance,   the artist, singers, percussion operators etc arrive to the place where the Theyyattam takes place and a small scale performance will be done which is known as 'Thottam'.The songs used for theyyams are known as 'thottam pattukal.(Meaning of the word 'patttukal' is 'songs' in Malayalam.)

The costumes are very colourful for theyyams and in some theyyam varieties 
they will paint the body also with rice flour, turmeric paste etc.The headgear
types are  varities like " Vattamudi, Neelamudi,Paalamudi,Omkaramudi,Peelimudi,Pookkattimudi,Purathattu etc".
There are theyyams of deities 'Kali' and 'Chamundi' also.Sub versions of Kali Theyyam are 'Bhadrakali,Veerankali,Karinkali,kodumkali,Puliyoorukali,Pullikarinkali,etc and Chamundi theyyams varities are like ' Raktha Chamundi,Madayil Chamundi,Moovalamkuzhy Chamundi,Veera Chamundi etc'.
Some deities are believed as ailment causers and deity like 'Puthiya Bhagavathy' removes the ailments and saves devotees in all ways.
Snake Gods are also manifested in theyyam.'Naga Bhagavathy,Naga Kandan,
Naga Kanni,Naga Kaaman etc are such where as animal  deity varieties are 'Puliyooru Kali,Puli Kandan,Kandapuli,Marapuli,Pulimaruthan,Kalapuli,Puliyooru Kannan etc'.
Rarely 'Bhootham' theyyams are also performed such as 'Karimbhootham,Velutha bhootham,Chuvanna bhootham'  etc which are bhootham aides of Lord Shiva.
Devil bhootham varieties are 'Anang bhootham,Alar bhootham,Vattipootham' etc.
'Karinchamundi,Pulli Bhagavathy,Pulli Chamundi ' belongs to 'Yakhi'(fairy) variety.

'Vishnumoorthy theyyam' is of Lord 'Narasimha', 'Palottu Deivam' is 'fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu.'Andalloor deivam ' is theyyam of Lord Sri Ram,'Anka Deivam' is theyyam of Lord Lakshman.'Neduvaalian theyyam' is none other than 'Vaali' of Ramayana and 'Kizhakkan deivam' is theyyam of 'Sugreeva'.

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