• August 2023
  • BDC Bekal Bekal Kasaragod Kerala Tourism North Malabar Tours and Travels

Theyyam, the mystical Indian ritual dance form where men turn into Gods – Witness the magnificence during your visit to Kasargod with BDC, Bekal

India, a land with a population of 1.5 billion people and 33 Hindu deities, boasts many religious festivals and ritual art forms. One of the most famous ritual art forms is the Theyyam, which originates in the state of Kerala. The word ‘Theyyam’ translates to ‘The dance of the Gods’, encapsulating the essence of this age-old folk ritual. A fascinating blend of theatre, mime and worship, the art form precedes Hinduism but interlaces with the Hindu folklore. Theyyam is known by many other names across Kerala, like Thira, Kaliyattam, and Thirayattam.

Theyyam: A traditional dance form handed over to the indigenous tribal communities:

The sacred duty of performing the Theyyam was entrusted to the native tribal communities like the Malayar, Pana, Vannan and Velan. The historical significance of the Theyyam dance form can be traced back to the ancient Sangam literature, where the Velan, one of the revered Theyyam dancers, Is mentioned. According to the Sangam traditions, Velan was sought after by mothers of lovesick girls to banish evil spirits from their daughters. Remarkably, all the rituals detailed in the Sangam texts and their commentaries are meticulously preserved and practiced by the Velan community and other dancing communities. Over more than 1,500 years, the dance of the Velan community has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving into the vibrant and contemporary dance form that it is today. The unbroken lineage of the Sangam traditions has firmly established Theyyam as a prominent and enduring religious system in North Kerala.

Performances steeped in rituals: Witness during your stay at Kasargod with BDC, Bekal:

The Theyyam performances unfold in a meticulously planned manner. This ritual art form of North Kerala commences with an initial communication to the performer, followed by the performance date confirmation. The performer is called the Kolakaran. The Theyyam performance’s first segment is Vellatam or Thottam, also popularly called the Thottampattu. The performance takes on a lighter tone during this phase without the elaborate costumes. The Kolakaran, accompanied by assistants, narrates the origin and unique characteristics of different Theyyams. Key musical instruments include Chenda, Veekan Chenda, Ilathalam and Kuzhal. The Kolakaran’s face for the Vellatam is adorned with painted motifs, and a distinctive tuft of hair is styles on his head. All Theyyams do not incorporate the Vellatam; some instead have an alternate function of receiving the Podiyila. Following the conclusion of the ritual song or Thotta, the Kolakaran enters centre stage, adorned in appropriate makeup and costumes.

The Facial Makeup of Theyyam: A Diverse art in its own:

The facial makeup for the Theyyam is a diverse art form with various patterns. The colors used in this makeup are sourced directly from nature, including materials like Chayilyam, Aripodi, and Maniyola. The choice of makeup, costumes and ornaments depends on the specific nature and identity of the Theyyam being portrayed. Sometimes, Theyyams even incorporate fire into their hair, a fiery spectacle called the Theechamundi. The performances in sacred groves are an annual ritual; such annual performance is called Kaliyattam. Sometimes, these performances continue for an extended period, called the Perumkaliyattam.

The best time to witness Theyyam performances – in the cooler and drier months of the region:

The best time to visit Bekal to witness Theyyam is typically from October to May. Being cool and dry, this is also the best time for outdoor cultural activities. October to December marks the beginning of the Theyyam season, and performances start gaining momentum in November. January to February is months when performances continue in full swing as the pleasant weather continues. The Theyyam performances continue until May, and the temperature gets warmer by then.

Book your trip to Bekal with BDC, Bekal, to witness the captivating Theyyam performances:

At BDC, Bekal, we are deeply connected to the local culture. Get in touch with BDC, Bekal between October and June to witness the Theyyam. It is important to note that Theyyam performances follow specific schedules, with each Theyyam form having particular dates and locations. Therefore, it is good to check beforehand with your accommodation provider, like BDC, Bekal, on the exact dates and venues of the Theyyam performances. Keep in mind that the popularity of Theyyam has been growing among tourists, so booking your accommodation and planning your visit well in advance is recommended to get the best of this unique cultural experience. Check out the accommodation options at Bekal with BDC, Bekal here.

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