Ritualistic Art

Theyyam, a kind of symbolic worship, is a highly popular ritualistic art form of Kerala. Incorporating a unique combination of dance, music, colour and light, Theyyam is a sacred theatrical form. Theyyam performances have deep-rooted links with the Hindu religion. Theyyam strives to drive home the eternal truth that good prevails over the evil. This message is spread across by enacting mythological, divine or heroic characters that avenge the wrongdoers.

The word ‘Theyyam’ means the corrupt form of ‘daivam’ or God. Theyyam performances are traditionally held in courtyards of ‘kavus’ or temples. Only males are allowed to perform this art form. Even female characters are portrayed by male artists wearing suitable make-up and costumes.

Theyyam performance is a great social leveller. Theyyam is exclusively performed by members belonging to certain sections of population like Malayan, Vannan etc., who belong to the lower order of social hierarchy. In a highly class and caste conscious society, all social stratifications are temporarily forgotten and the Theyyam artists are regarded with awe and reverence during the performance.