Kerala is known for its diverse culture. The state has multiple festivals celebrated all year round. One of the festivals that has gained attention of travellers from all around the world is “Theyyam”.
This Festivals history and origin can be traced back to over 800 years. Theyyam showcases the ancient tribal cultures with a series of ritual dance performances incorporating dance, mime, and music. All performers represent a heroic character with divine power. They wear heavy make-up, huge masks, and flamboyant costumes which gives them a divine appearance.
Theyyam is a famous festival of Malabar region and has more than 100 versions of it celebrated with different stories and all of them centres around celestial beings. For someone who is not native to this state, finding the best date and venue for the festival is little difficult. The location, the timing and the venue is not secret but difficult to understand unless you have local contacts. There are multiple versions of Theyyams and you should know about the version that you wish to attend.
In local custom, the Theyyam festival has different names but it can be commonly categorized into the following categories –
* The Fire Theyyam – The main and the most glamorous version of the ritual that is attended by the top photographers of the world. The Fire Theyyams of Kannur region has multiple smaller versions. There are six main fire Theyyam where the divine beings put themselves in the fire completely. There are toned down versions of these festivals with the intensity getting less and less.
* The morning Theyyam – These Theyyam are performed in the afternoon or in morning around 6. The culture seekers who are not interested in photography can surely attend this festival as they have a different type of intensity.
* Forest Theyyam – These are more mystical versions of Theyyam that are held inside bamboo forests. There is less fire but the scenery is simply gorgeous.
* Community based Theyyam – There are important versions of Theyyam that are organized by Muslim communities as well as women. These are important part of the cultural aspect that many don’t know about.
When is Theyyam organized: Theyyam Festival is organized from the month of November to first week of May. There are different venues of Theyyam that are associated with tales of heroism and valor among various mythological figures.
Timings of Theyyam: Theyyams happen all day. Some of them are performed in night so if you know of one then visit the place around 12 midnight and be prepared to stay awake till 6 in the morning.
Theyyam is all glory and grandeur, is not for the weak hearted.
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Theyyam Festival, Kerala, India