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Theyyam Photos from Kerala, India

Updated on November 21, 2011

Theyyams of Malabar

Theyyam is a well-known Hindu dance ritual performed in village temples before an assemblage of devotees to propitiate the local village Gods. Theyyam is still popular in Kannur and Kasargod districts of Kerala State. Sometimes, Theyyam is also organized in homes as a form of ancestor-worship -accompanied by elaborate rites and rituals.

The lead dancer who propitiates the chief deity may be required to stay in the rituals after sun sets. This head dancer should fast for the remainder of that day. The dance format of Theyyam is simple. The first part of the performance is usually known as Vellattam or Thottam. It is performed without make-up or any other decorative dress. It is however customary to wear a small, red headdress in the opening scenes.

The dancer and the accompanying drummers and players of the traditional musical instruments recite the customary ritual song, which explains the myths and legends associated with the deity that is propitiated. After completing this primary episode of the invocation, the dancer retires to the rest area. After some short respite he reappears in the prescribed costumes and with necessary makeup.

Theyyam Photos

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Theyyam Photos

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There are different designs of face-painting and are carry local names -vairadelam, kattaram, kozhipuspam, kotumpurikam, and prakkezhuthu. Mostly primary and secondary colors that are applied help in effecting certain dance moods. There is an array of folk musical instruments like Chenda, tuti, kuzhal and veekni and these instruments are played in unison to certain rhythms. All the dancers are armed with a shield and sword.

Then the dancer, as per tradition, circumambulates the shrine, runs in the courtyard dancing all the time. The Theyyam dance has different scientific steps known as Kalaasams and a fulfilling performance is one that deftly combines playing of musical instruments, vocal recitations, dance, and wearing of prescribed makeup and costumes.

On a loftier note, Theyyam is an artistic dance form that conveys a set of metaphysical thoughts while the immortal souls revisit the earth in the physical body of the dancer.

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Click thumbnail to view full-size

Theyyam Images

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Theyyam Pictures

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Click thumbnail to view full-size
Click thumbnail to view full-size


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    • profile image

      RADESH CHERUVALATH 5 years ago


    • profile image

      rose 5 years ago

      very useful photos.thank you

    • profile image

      Ammu 6 years ago


      I am the editor of a non profit art magazine called Dharani. The vision of Dharani initiatives is to introduce the general public to the richness and divinity of Indian classical art forms.

      It would be great if you could allow us to use the pic of theyyam (the first photograph on this page)in our magazine.

      Thank you


    • profile image

      Anu 6 years ago

      It is the great inscriptions of the kerala art culture.

    • profile image

      sanjth 6 years ago

      sree muttapan vary

    • profile image

      suraj 7 years ago

      promot hindu culture

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 7 years ago from India

      Nobody is having time to watch or know about these art forms like theyyam, ottanthullal, kathakali, parayanthullal etc... Even though kathakali became one of the greatest attractions of tourists have a great value now a days only on a business basis. Other art forms are dying.. By the way beautiful pictures.

    • profile image

      Rajeevan Mavilayi,Kannur 7 years ago

      Excellent pictures.It's the part of our culture hence wehave to safeguard it.Thank you for showing it allround the world.

    • profile image

      abhilash 8 years ago

      theyyam is kerala's sound and light and all..

    • profile image

      SUNIL PAYYANNUR 8 years ago


    • profile image

      jithinkumar kv 8 years ago

      to insert verity photos about makkam,pillatheeni,anyottep

    • profile image

      SHAHANAD 9 years ago


    • profile image

      shaji karichery 9 years ago

      it is a great attempt. And all are specified the original quality of 'theyyam' by your photos. Another one is, it make me as a theyyam photo collector. It make deep knowledge about 'mukhathezhuth' and ceremony of theyyam.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      SunSeven! Thank you for sharing these great pictures. It's always nice to see and learn about other cultures.

      Much appreciated. Great hub. regards Zsuzsy

    • rudevils profile image

      rudevils 9 years ago from Indonesia

      nice collection sunseven, it will be great if u publish the video :D

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 9 years ago from Southern California, USA

      This is a very unique pictures, not something someone sees everyday. Good job!

    • sminut13 profile image

      sminut13 9 years ago from singapore

      wow, interesting pictures. thanks so much for sharing.

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Yes it should help your country folk. good pictures.