What is it?
- Theyyam is a famous ritual art form that originated in North Kerala.
- The Theyyam dance is performed in front of the village shrine, sacred groves(kaavu), and in the houses as ancestor worship.
- The dancer assumes the form of God and dances propitiating and appeasing them and in return, the Gods assure prosperity and peace to society and is the belief behind the Theyyam performance.
- It’s done to pacify the spirits of ancestors and folk heroes. Dancers represent local gods and goddesses who are said to be the village’s guardians.
Features of the dance
- Mudi is an important trait. It is a religious crown composed of different coloured coconut and areca nut splices.
- Each artist portrays a powerful hero. Performers use heavy make-up and are dressed in colourful outfits.
- The dance is accompanied by a choir of musical instruments such as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal, and Veekkuchenda.
- The performers are from the scheduled castes and tribal communities such as the Malayan, Velan, Vannan, Pana and Peruvannan.
- Velan, one of the Theyyam dancers, is referred to in the sangam literature. The Sangam traditions say that Velan was employed by the mothers of lovelorn girls to exorcise the malignant spirits from their daughters.
- Though Theyyam was sponsored by members of the upper class and ruling class families, it has a revolutionary concept behind it since the Theyyam artists are from scheduled castes and tribal communities. Even the so called “high-caste people” will have to worship the Gods who come in the form of Theyyam
Why in News:
- The pandemic has adversely affected the Theyyam celebration in Kerala