Friday, 30 December 2011
Tribute to Our Culture
A year has passed since I went to the temple festival in my hometown, Kannur in Kerala. The festival happens every year on the last weekend. The temple is called Poothatta Tharavad Kavu. This happens to be my paternal great grandfather’s Tharavad (Ancestral House.) The basic art form performed in the Kavu (Temple) is called as Theyyam or Theyyattam.
Theyyam is a Hindu folk dance ritual of worship exclusive to Northern Malabar region, i.e., Kannur, Kasargod, Kozhikode (formerly Calicut), and Wynad belts. People in the olden times believed that any obstacle that nature brought in front of them was caused by a certain power, which human intelligence could not comprehend. Thus, man started idolizing the various entities in nature like wind, air, water and so on. One person among the group was made to empower himself with these unseen powers and was considered to be a form of God. The word Theyyam is derived the Sanskrit word Daivam which means God. The origin of this ritual is unknown or rather it is better to say that there is no one theory that explains the birth of Theyyam.
The ritual dance is exclusively performed by male members of certain caste communities namely Vannan, Malayan, Velan, Mavilan, Pulayan and Koppalan. Most of these communities are indigenous tribes of Kerala and this tradition of folk dance has been kept alive by them. During the Theyyam season (which spans from November till April), these dancers transcend into Gods. They paint themselves with sandalwood paste, turmeric paste, red sandalwood paste and wear very large crowns all with prominence to red.
Each Theyyam has a character of his own and they bless the members who go to meet them. At our Tharavad Kavu we had Theyyams by the name of Karanavar Theyyam, Gulikan Theyyam, Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam, Bhagavathy Theyyam, Vellattom Theyyam, etc. to mention a few. I was asked to meet the Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam and he looked into my eyes and began telling me about things which were in my mind. I was standing in front of him with all due respect and he tells me “you told someone what’s the point of praying because God does not heed to all what we plead to him.” My eyes widened in surprise. A few weeks ago I was telling my flat mate the same thing. I said a big NO to him but he held on to it. I don’t know how he knew it. Men and women who came there, some of them were seen crying and he was consoling them too.
It is indeed a worth watch. Leave alone the religious aspect of it, but the general dress up and the vigor of the dance and the traditions followed are unique in all respects. Forgot to tell you these Theyyams usually drink the local toddy tapped from coconut trees. That is the offering there. For anyone who really wants to come to see this, January to April of every year is the best time to do this.
Some Information taken from the Wikipedia Link on Google.
Picture of Wayanad Kulavan Theyyam