Art & Culture

In the news: Theyyam Performance Art of Kerala

  • This newscard is an excerpt from an image that appeared in today’s edition of TH.

About Theyyam

  • Theyyam is a traditional ritualistic performance art form from Kerala’s northern area.
  • It is thought to have evolved over centuries, incorporating elements of music, dance, and drama to honour numerous Hindu deities, particularly the Goddess Kali.

Key Features:

  • Theyyam performances are unique in that they take place in village shrines or joint-family houses rather than on stages.
  • Long duration: Performances might last from 12 to 24 hours, reflecting their importance in the community.
  • Ritual: The primary dancers stay near the shrine throughout the occasion and do not eat after sundown.
  • Masks and costumes: A variety of masks and face paints are utilised, all with brilliant colours.
  • Traditional Kerala instruments such as chenda (drum), tuti (flute), kuzhal (wind instrument), and veekni (percussion instrument) accompany the dancers.
  • Dance steps: Specific dance steps known as “Kalaasams” follow a set pattern.
  • Religious influence: Certain features of Theyyam, such as not eating after sunset, show religious influences from Jainism and Buddhism.

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