Vishnumoorthi Theyyam

The Vishnumoorthi Theyyam was the most elaborate preparation that we witnessed.  This day-time performance gave us a glimpse into each little detail that goes into the making of every single Theyyam.  We were privy to the makeup along with the several layers of clothing made from areca nut leaves that started at the chest and flowed down till the ankle.  This also meant that the performer had to keep his arms stretched upward all throughout the gruelling hours of not only the getting ready part but also the hours of performance.  We were able to witness the final touches of the crimson that is applied on the lips or the bridge of the nose, and we saw the Theyyam come face-to-face with the deity he was invoking through a wooden encased mirror, before beginning the performance.

Legend/Story: Vishnumoorthi Theyyam has the Narasimhavatharam as its essence.  This Theyyam depicts the story of Palanthai Kannan, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.  Once as a child, Palanthai Kannan tried to pick mangoes from a tree but was beaten up by the bodyguards of Kuruvat Kurup, who owned the orchard.  Palanthai Kannan later found shelter in a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and meditated and learned many things from Lord Vishnu himself.  With the Divine’s blessings and knowledge, he later started making his way to his hometown of Nileshwar.  On the way, he stopped for one day in Moolapally at a blacksmith’s house.  The news of his visit spread in the area and Kuruvat Kurup and his men came after Palanthai Kannan and killed him.  This invited Lord Vishnu’s wrath and God destroyed everything around there.  Kuruvat Kurup frightened with the destruction, called upon an astrologer, who advised him to build a Kavu for Lord Vishnu.  Kuruvat Kurup and his family build a shrine by carrying stones themselves and this became known as Vishnumoorthi.

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