THAEYYAM A RITUAL ART OF KERALA The Photos and contents are taken from different web sites thankachan Song included in this presentation is not Theyyam Thottam (Song)
Theyyam <ul><li>Theyyam is an artistic dance form where metaphysical thoughts and expressions of immortal souls are impersonated to a believer through a mortal body . It was originated from "Kaliyattam" once practiced by the tribal community of north Kerala </li></ul>
Theyyam is a sect in which old heroes are sanctified and worshipped as the guardians of villages and homes. Yet, it includes a complex universe centered on the belief that a man can—after suitable mental, physical and spiritual preliminaries—don the costume of a particular deity and then become that deity
The performer of Theyyam gets himself completely into the artistic rhythm. Even when the dancer breaks coconut against his forehead, cuts his forehead with the sword, or wears red-hot iron chain on his body as a mark of self-torture, he never goes out of rhythm.
The person who performs Theyyam while delivering such metaphysical experiences and involves himself completely into the act traverses through three different stages.
The first stage is one kind of impersonation by decorating himself with creative paintings and coverings made up of natural materials
The second stage helps him to involve a mental state of flight to mystic heights
The last stage is the accomplishments of the dancer submerged fully into the artistic rhythm of acting the story
<ul><li>Though the spectators feel that the actor is unconscious to the surroundings, the man who controls the technique of dance and rhythm in him is fully alive to the situation. In theatre acting, if the actor looses his control, the act is rated as substandard </li></ul>
The unique quality of Theyyam is that its deities can manifest themselves in the bodies of empowered men as dancer-performers, and appear before their devotees while interacting with them by answering questions, mocking the pompous, ridiculing the vain, and humiliating the arrogant
In the worship of certain Teyyams, intoxicant liquor as an offering is not forbidden. Kuttichattan, Khantakarnam are among the deities of the tamasic (dark group) for whom liquor is an inevitable item. The practitioners of such Teyyams belongs to the Saktiyas for whom liquor forms an important ingredient of worship in their routine religious practices
To other god heads like 'Daivattar', liquor is strictly prohibited and the artists who impersonate such powers also regard liquor as taboo in their lives.
The performer belongs to lower caste like Mannan, Velan and Malayan communities
The landlords and chieftains encouraged these artists and introduced many improvements by initiating new themes into its fold and classified them to appropriate communities for their propagation .
It is interesting to note that the upper class people receive blessings from them while they perform Theyyam
The headgear or the mask made of materials from nature and painted with natural colours in Teyyam assumes a grotesque and archetypal image with the blending of highly artistic and emotive display
The dancer has to prepare his mind and body to entertain the Teyyam within himself. During the period of austerity, which is prerequisite for any ritualistic art, the dancer concentrates on his favourite deity with extreme devotion.
<ul><li>Teyyam dance is done as an offering for begetting children, winning of law suits, warding of evils, getting rid of epidemics and for similar successful culmination of individual and social desires </li></ul>
Teyyam is a ritualistic dance with its rare and grotesque make-up and costume, lively foot work, gymnastic fervour and ritualistic vitality
The most sacred and powerful element of the costume, the mudi or headdress, is put on once the artist has been seated on a sacred stool in front of the sanctum
After this comes the actual moment of "becoming" the deity, the moment of crossing the line, as he stares into a small hand-held mirror
It is at this point that, almost imperceptibly, he slips into another state of being, his eyes widening as they focus not on his own reflection, but on the enigmatic features of a divine being
The wearing of spectacular costume further enhances the illusion of becoming a divine being