Theyyam Folk Dance, Kerala

Theyyam is a dance form involving rigorous facial expressions and body movement prevalent in the coastal state of Kerala in the South India region and extends in reverence and influence along the coast line as far as up to Mangalore in Karnataka. It is safe to say that Theyyam enjoys a very special status restricted not only to a form of art but also due to its religious connotations, as a form of worship as well. Theyyam in these parts is a cult tradition and has been prevalent since as far as thousand years ago.

The Theyyam performers usually belong to community in lower caste going by the same name and hold important social positions as Theyyam. Although Theyyam is a Hindu festival, its cult status popularity is extremely inclusive and has followers from diverse backgrounds including Islam. Like a lot of Indian traditional rituals that have stemmed from worship animate Nature, Theyyam too is an evolution of the primitive tribal worship of the elements of Nature and the forces that may be and is symbolic of an orchestrated sequential creative affair to seek their blessings. It involves a lot of props and decoration including a special attire and painted faces. Very interestingly like a lot of other South India traditional dance forms through this intricate make up and detailed disguise the dancers enact and strive to mimic the various Gods and forces in whose reverence the dance is being performed as oblation. Theyyam too celebrates the generosity and glory of Nature in the Mother form and has a strong and deep rooted agrarian connect. However the regional impact has not spared Theyyam and there are almost 400 varieties of Theyyam involving distinctly different costumes, backdrops and sequences with some including weapons as well. Kathivanoor Veeran is a popular Theyyam of Kerala.

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