Theyyam – Kerala’s Unique Art Form in India


The Complete Guide to Theyyam and Kerala’s Unique Art Form in India

theyyam image

Introduction: What is Theyyam and What are the Origins?

The Theyyam is a traditional art form of Kerala, India. It is a ritualistic performance that has been practiced for centuries. The dancer is usually an individual who is possessed by the spirit of a deity or demon and the performance usually takes place in temples. The dancer’s face and body are covered with layers of turmeric, sandalwood paste, chalk powder, and other substances that make him unrecognizable to anyone. Theyyams are performed during important festivals like Onam or Thiruvathira to celebrate their victories over evil or to please the gods for healthy crops, good harvest, etc.

The origins of Theyyam can be traced back to around 300 AD when it was performed as part of rituals in Kerala temples for Hindu deities like Shiva and Kali. These rituals were conducted by temple priests who were possessed by the deity’s spirit and would dance as an offering to them. The earliest mention of Theyyam in literature comes from Cherusseri Nambudiri’s “Nalacharitham” in the 16th century, though the Theyyam tradition is much older.

The earliest mention of Theyyam in literature comes from Cherusseri Nambudiri’s “Nalacharitham” in the 16th century, though the Theyyam tradition is much older. Theyyams have been performed by individuals and as part of large temple rituals since their inception. The performance consists of a number of roles,

theyyam image

How is Kerala’s Unique Mystic Cult of Terrorizing Gods Produced in India

A Theyyam ritual is a traditional form of dance-drama in Kerala, India. The ritual is performed by a person called the “Theyyamkali” who is believed to be possessed by the spirit of a deity.

It was originally performed for the purpose of appeasing and propitiating gods or spirits at various temples.

There are many rituals that are associated with this performance, but most importantly it involves an elaborate makeup process and costume that takes hours to put on. The performers wear ornate costumes with different colors and symbols on them, which represent their characters like the god Shiva or goddess Kali.


Who Performs the Roles During a Theyyam Performance? The Puppeteers, Drum Beaters & Devotees)

A Theyyam performance is a ritualistic dance. It is usually performed in front of an idol of the deity, where the devotees offer prayers and seek blessings. The performers are usually called ‘puppeteers’, ‘drum beaters’, and ‘devotees’.

Puppeteers are responsible for all the movements of the various characters in a Theyyam performance. Drum beaters are responsible for keeping time with their drums to maintain the tempo of the performance. Devotees are responsible for playing an active role in a Theyyam performance by praying and singing along with it.

theyyam image

Theyyams Producers – Ritual Specialists with Unique Local Knowledge Systems

Theyyams are a traditional ritual performance art of Kerala, India. Theyyams are performed in temples and at homes. The performers wear elaborate costumes and masks. Theyyams are traditionally performed in the Malayalam language, but can also be performed in other languages.

The main purpose of the ritual is to please the deity to whom the Theyyam is being offered for a specific purpose, such as healing or fertility. The producer or performer is called a Theyyamkuravan (The word “Theyya” means god).

These producers offer an authentic experience for tourists who want to experience something different from what they would see on a typical vacation.


The Top Theyyam places in Kerala

Kerala, India is known for their spectacular Theyyam performers. Pambalassery is a small town and municipality in the Kottayam district in the state of Kerala, India. It is about 30 km from Thiruvalla, the headquarters of the Kottayam district. The Theyyam of Pambalassery is said to have been founded by one Swami Ayyappan and it has become one of the most renowned Theyyams in Kerala.

They are also found performing in villages with a rural population that is largely Malayali and their dances can be seen on occasions such as the temple festival during Onam, Thiruvalluvar Jayanthi, or Vishu. The Theyyam of Pambalassery is performed by members of the Ezhava community, a socially and culturally dominant group among Kerala’s Hindus.

Which month is Theyyam?

Running for about 10-19 days, Theseyam was originally celebrated to cast off the evils of the darkness along with driving away bad spirits from entering one’s village.

Theyyam is a fascinating art form that is often misunderstood. It typically takes place during the dry months of January to February and is a mix of dance, music, and theater. The celebrants are often adorned with bright colors and masks to symbolize various deities. Theyyam performances are set in temples in agricultural areas, but can also be seen in urban settings such as theaters.

What is the story of Theyyam?

Theyyam is a form of dance-drama that is unique to Kerala between 45 and 75 kilometers from the Arabian Sea. It is based on Christian folk beliefs mixed with symbols from India’s agricultural society, such as plants eaten in the diet. It is influenced by kundalini yoga and tantra traditions, visible in its themes of the body, fight and death, and rebirth.


There are different types of Theyyam. From the Sangam literature, it originated and its dance form originated from Kaliyattam. There are around 456 Theyyakolam. It is one of India’s art forms and it exhibits India’s cultural heritage and passes from one generation to the next generation.



FacebookTwitterEmailCopy LinkLinkedInWhatsAppShare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *