Kannangattu Bhagavathi Theyyam

The Kannangattu Bhagavathi Theyyam captured the essence of the Devi with such perfection that for a moment when I first looked at the performance, I almost forgot to use my camera.  Through the entire dance, where the Theyyam went around the Kavu, whirling to the soft beats of the drums, I sat mesmerised at the…

Vasoorimaala Theyyam

In a trance-like state, moving and swaying rhythmically, the Vasoorimaala Theyyam had an utmost calm on his face.  Even though as a man, depicting a goddess, the Theyyam personified the essence of the Divine Feminine energy with the grace, calm, yet a power that seemed to emanate from his very being.  During the initial few…

Bhairavan Theyyam

The Bhairavan Theyyam had already finished his performance and was sitting in the grove dispensing blessings to the gathered crowd, by the time we arrived.  Orange painted face, with yellow marked forehead, eyes covered with silver ornaments, and two silver pincers attached to the puffed-up cheeks.  He sat there in all the regalia, but what…

Sasthappan (Kuttichathan) Theyyam

Sasthappan, also known as Kuttichathan were two Theyyams that were dressed identically and performed the rituals, simultaneously.  Wearing elongated rectangular waist adornments, they covered their eyes with silver ornaments, with only a small hole to look through.  Their headgear consisted of two wooden flaps on either side of their cheeks.  However, it was the peacock…

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…

Puliyoor Kali Theyyam

When personifying the goddesses as Theyyams, it is still the menfolk that perform the ritualistic dance.  They invoke the Divine Feminine energies and dress as the goddesses to bring the stories to life.  This mid-day performance was special as we had a chance to witness the makeup and dressing up of the Theyyam.  The face…

Kathivanur Veeran Theyyam

This Theyyam was another night-time ritual that involved a play with fire, albeit without jumping into the flames.  Dressed in the traditional colours of the performance and a headgear that enhanced the presence, this Theyyam started with cooing and talking to the stack of fire in the middle of the grove, to the steady beat…

Gulikan Theyyam

This was the only Theyyam that did not have the traditional colours of red, orange and black, but was covered in white, almost the colour of ash.  Stripes of black lines ran through his bare body and he wore a waist adornment made of nimble palm strands.  His eyes were covered in patches of black…

Kandanar Kelan Theyyam

This was my 1st brush of the Theyyam performance in the dead of the night, which included spectacular dance rituals around and within leaping flames of fire.  This is one of the most famous and sought-after performances and for good measure.  After an elaborate dance on the legend of the deity and depicting its fury…

Theyyams: A Dance Divine

The December air is sticky with perspiration, as mosquitoes buzz around and fly into our faces, like little drunks who have lost the way, in the thick vegetation on either side of the narrow mud road we are traversing on.  A numb thumping of the drums in the distance breaks through the 2 a.m. darkness…