Monday, February 11, 2013



                Call it superstition, pagan belief or anything you like- but theyyam is so real that the life of gramers will be very monotonous without theyyam festivals. The womenfolk even today seek solace from theyyams  who will console them by uttering words of wisdom . Theyyam is a perfect art. The colours are perfect.The dress and the makeup along with the head gear is pure art. A theyyam illuminated in choottukatta ( Leaf torch) have a mesmerizing effect. You will feel that there is something supernatural in it. The artist will be a humble poor man you know but when he becomes a theyyam you will stand before him only with hands folded. Many of the mother goddesses theyyams are incarnations of kali who will terrorize you. 

ഉരുഗാ ധിപനോട് ഗരുഡ നെന്ന പ്രകാരത്തിങ്കല്‍ ചെല്ലുന്ന ദിക്കിനകതിങ്കല്‍ തല താഴാതീട്ടു തക്കവണ്ണം ശത്രുസംഹാരം നടത്തി കൈവല്യത്തെ  പൊഴിയിച്ചു തരാം കേട്ടോ പൈതങ്ങളെ             

            Theyyam cult should have been started as a ritual for getting rid of all types of mundane difficulties- Famine, diseases, distress and the like. Initially it might have been the komarams which performed these godly acts. But later on it attained a very ordered form with its face painting, drums, pipes and fire walking rituals attaining the status of a complete ritual.
            Theyyam festivals are to be lived through. Here you are not a silent spectator. You will feel that you have lived through a new experience. It recharges your soul. It strikes a deep consoling note in your psyche.

            In an around gramam there are many kavus. Ashtamachal Bhagavathi, Mambalam , Kurunhi , Mavichery and Kottnachery are some . Besides there are tharavadu theyyams.
             All theyyams have a story of origin. This story will be sung along with the performance as thottam pattu. It can be the story of a mother deported alone to an alien land in a boat, a warrier died in action or a lady victimized by the rulers. 
            Theyyam festival is a fertility festival. When deepavum thiriyum from Payyanur temple reaches the kavu, sky rockets penetrate the evening sky with deafening noise. Everyone knew the kaliattom is on. All get ready for the vellattum which is a prelude to the original theyyam. The vellatum will be accompanied by velichapads, umbrella men, and kalasam (a pot full of toddy decorated with areca nut leaves). The vellattum performs a series of somersaults among flowerpots and other fireworks. During night the stage is set for other cultural programs. On the early hours of the concluding day there will be a grant fireworks display. During day  all the theyyams set forth, dance and grace the devotees  until late night.
My memories of childhood are linked with a lot of theyyam experience. For children theyyam festival is an occasion for great fun and joy. There will be provision for merriment- balloons, toys and merry go round. For youngsters the festival is an occasion for bonding the adolescent relationships-for family men an occasion for meeting old friends and relatives- for the old folks a chance to be graced by their gods.
When we live through a kaliattum, another year pass by, and we all promise to meet again for the next kaliattum. Each theyyam festival gives enough food for thought until then.

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