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Theyyam, Kerala

Witness the vibrance of the rich regional and cultural heritage!

One of the spectacular dramatic art form native to India, more precisely to the northern Malabar region of Kerala, is Theyyam. This ritualistic art form that is a part of Kerala’s folk culture, involving stunning make-up and traditional costumes aggrandizes and infuses life into not just the stories of gods and goddesses but also the beliefs of the ancient tribals who gave a lot of importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of their ancestors. Performers can be seen in vibrant face make-overs, grand head-gears and some ornate costumes to give them the perfect look of the character they are performing.

Generally, mythical tales and mythological stories of India are often enacted in the form of dance or drama or dance drama on stage. Unique that Theyyam is, it is vehemently performed in a sacred place known as ‘kaavu’, dedicated to this event! This would generally be in the middle of a coconut grove and the event could be performed day and night continuously!

Gods play in God’s own country.
Dance, Drama and Trance.

It is said that there are over 400 separate theyyams, each with their own music, style and choreography. This ceremonial dance drama accompanied by the chorus of such musical instruments as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekkuchenda takes the entire event to another level. The grandeur of Theyyam is to be seen and felt in person.

A dream event and a photographer’s delight, this came true to me, in Iritty, a small but scenic hill town in the district of Kannur in Kerala.  I will be ever grateful to Shri. Manoj Iritty and his family for hosting and helping me completely in attending this event. My sincere gratitude to a very dear friend Mr. Suru Nair who introduced me to the most helpful person and his warm family to spend a few days, as I attended the event.

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