Theyyam Dance

Theyyam is a famous dance form that originated in North Kerala. It is a ceremonial dance along with music performed in small temples and shrines across the northern regions of Kerala.

Latest context: In order to promote cultural tourism Kerala Tourism department have started live streaming of Theyyam Dance Form which is an annual temple festival in Kerala. Aspirants would find this topic very helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

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What is Theyyam?

  • Theyyam is one of the famous Indian Dance Forms performed in Kolathunadu (Kingdom of Cannanore).  It encompasses dance, mime and music.
  • It is a ceremonial dance along with music played by instruments like Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekkuchenda. 
  • It talks about the beliefs of the ancient tribals, who gave importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of their ancestors.
  • Theyyam performances can be seen in northern parts of Kerala from October to May. The peak season to see Theyyam in Kerala is November and December.
  • There are over 400 separate Theyyams, each with its own music, style and choreography. 
  • The most prominent among these are 
    • Raktha Chamundi
    • Kari Chamundi
    • Muchilottu Bhagavathi
    • Wayanadu Kulaven
    • Gulikan 
    • Pottan

Theyyam Face

  • Performers of theyyam wear heavy make-up and adorn flamboyant costumes. There are different patterns of facial makeup. 
  • The colours used for theyyam is extracted from Nature like Chayilyam, Karimazhi, Aripodi and Maniyola. 
  • The facial make-up, costumes and ornaments depend on the type of theyyam.

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Major Types of Theyyam

There are 456 theyyams. Some of them are very important and famous. They are

  • Vishnumoorthi: It is the most popular part of the Vaishnava Theyyam. It narrates the story of Palanthai Kannan, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. 
  • Sree Muthappan Theyyam: It consists of two divine figures is considered as the personification of two divine figures— the Thiruvappana or Valiya Muttapan (Vishnu) and the Vellatom or Cheriya Muttapan (Shiva). Muthappan temples are present in hundreds of places in North Malabar. 
  • Guligan: Guligan is a local form of the Hindu god of death, called Yama. Guligan in Hindu scriptures is credited as the most important warrior of Lord Shiva. 
  • Padikutti Amma: Padikuttiyamma is believed to be the mother of God Muthappan. She is believed to have taken care of Muthappan.  The Theyyam Padikutti Amma has been performed in the famous Palaprath Temple, at Kodallur. 

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Some Related Links:

Indian Classical Dances UPSC NCERT Notes for Art & Culture
FAQ on UPSC Current Affairs
Topic-wise UPSC Prelims Questions PDF UPSC Syllabus
UPSC Monthly Magazine for Current Affairs IAS Topper


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