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Theyyam (Teyyam, Theyyattam or Thira) is a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, India, predominant in the Kolathunadu area (consisting of present-day Kasargod, Kannur Districts, Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad and Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode of Kerala. As a living cult with several thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs. The performers of Theyyam belong to the lower class community, and have an important position in Theyyam. The term Theyyam is a corrupt form of Devam or God. People of these districts consider Theyyam itself as a God and they seek blessings from this Theyyam. A similar custom is followed in the Tulu Nadu region of neighbouring Karnataka known as Bhuta Kola
According to the legendary Keralolpathi, Parasurama sanctioned festivals like Kaliyattam, Puravela and Daivattam or Theyyattam to the people of the North Malabar region. He also assigned the responsibility of performing the Theyyam dance to the indigenous tribal communities like Malayar, Panan, Vannan and Velan. "There can be no doubt", say Bridget and Raymond Alchin, "that a very large part of this modern folk religion is extremely ancient and contains traits which originated during the earliest periods of Neolithic, Chalcolithic settlement and expression".
Classification of Sub Cults 
It can be said that all the prominent characteristics of primitive, tribal, religious worship had widened the stream of Theyyam cult, where "even the followers of Islam are associated with the cult in its functional aspect" and made it a deep-rooted folk religion of millions. For instance, the cult of Bhagawathi, the Mother Goddesses had and still has an important place in Theyyam. Besides this, the practices like spirit-worship, ancestor-worship, hero-worship, masathi-worship, tree-worship, animal worship, serpent-worship, the worship of the Goddesses of disease and the worship of Graamadevataa (Village-Deity) are included in the main stream of the Theyyam cult. Along with these Gods and Goddesses there exist innumerable folk Gods and Goddesses. Most of these Goddesses are known as Bhagavathy (the Mother-Goddess that is the Divine and United form of the three principal Goddesses namely, Brahmani (Saraswati), Vaishnavi (Lakshmi), and Shivani (Durga)).
Different branches of mainstream Hindu religion such as Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism now dominate the cult of Theyyam. However, the forms of propitiation and other rituals are continuations of a very ancient tradition. In several cult-centres, blood offering is seen, despite being forbidden in sattvic Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. In such centres, separate places outside the precincts of the shrine are selected for blood offering and for the preparation of the traditional Kalam known as Vatakkanvathil. The Theyyam deities propitiated through cock-sacrifice will not enter such shrines. This religious cockfight over blood sacrifice, which does also include the cockfight as a blood sacrifice, is a prime example of "cultural synthesis of 'little' and 'great' cultures".
On account of the supposedly late revival of the Vaishnavism movement in Kerala, it does not have a deep impact on the Theyyam cult. Only a few deities are available under this category. Two major Theyyam deities of Vaishnavism are Vishnumoorthi and Daivathar. Vaishnavism was very popular in the Tuluva region in the 13th century when it came under the rule of Vishnuvardhana of the Hoysala dynasty. He was a great champion of Vaishnavism. Most probably he was initially deified as Vishnumoorthi and incorporated into the Bhoota cult of the Tuluvas and then further incorporated as a prominent folk deity into the Theyyam cult as well. To some, the legend of Vishnumoorthi is symbolizes the God's migration from Tulu Nadu to Kolathunadu.
All other categories of Theyyam deities can be classified under Shaivism or Shaktism. Even spirits, ancestors, heroes, and animals are deified and included in those categories. Briefly, Theyyam provides a good example for the religious evolution of, and the subsequent different stages in modern Hinduism, with the overall understanding that within Hindu sycretisms lay propitiation as ancient practices and rituals of ancient worship intended for the blessings of the supernatural not unlike, "in Indus Valley and other ancient civilizations, mother goddess had been invoked for fertility and prosperity".
The ruling landlord communities like the Nambiars and Nairs were patrons of Theyyam, and it was not uncommon for every Tharavadu to have its own Theyyam. However, the Brahmins did not have the right to directly take part in the performance of Theyyam, as this privilege belonged only to the tribal communities. Despite this, out of devotion, ruling clans established their own shrines and Kavus for Theyyam deities where non-sattvic rituals and customs are observed. The Goddesses like Rakteshwari, Chamundi, Someshwari, Kurathi, and the Gods like Vishnumoorthi are propitiated in these house-hold shrines. There, the Theyyam dancers appear during the annual festivals of Gods and Goddesses. The rituals in such shrines are different from those of the Brahminical temples. The impact of this cultural fusion could be traced to the social organization based on the caste system and in the agrarian relations. Once the cult was patronized by the Brahmins, the intermediate and lower castes also took it as a "major religious practice". In fact the cult has become the religion of the masses.
There is no stage or curtain or other such arrangements for the performance. The devotees would be standing or some of them would be sitting on a sacred tree in front of the shrine. In short, it is an open theatre. A performance of a particular deity according to its significance and hierarchy in the shrine continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The chief dancer who propitiates the central deity of the shrine has to reside in the rituals. This may be due to the influence of Jainism and Buddhism. Further, after the sun sets, this particular dancer would not eat anything for the remainder of that day (again possibly on account of a legacy of Jainism). His make-up is done by specialists and other dancers. The first part of the performance is usually known as Vellattam or Thottam. It is performed without proper make-up or any decorative costume. Only a small, red headdress is worn on this occasion.
The dancer along with the drummers recites the particular ritual song, which describes the myths and legends, of the deity of the shrine or the folk deity to be propitiated. This is accompanied by the playing of folk musical instruments. After finishing this primary ritualistic part of the invocation, the dancer returns to the green room. Again after a short interval he appears with proper make-up and costumes. There are different patterns of face-painting. Some of these patterns are called vairadelam, kattaram, kozhipuspam, kotumpurikam, and prakkezhuthu. Mostly primary and secondary colours are applied with contrast for face painting. It helps in effecting certain stylization in the dances. Then the dancer comes in front of the shrine and gradually “metamorphoses” into the particular deity of the shrine. He, after observation of certain rituals places the head-dress on his head and starts dancing. In the background, folk musical instruments like chenda, tuti, kuzhal and veekni are played in a certain rhythm. All the dancers take a shield and kadthala (sword) in their hands as continuation of the cult of weapons. Then the dancer circumambulates the shrine, runs in the courtyard and continues dancing there. The Theyyam dance has different steps known as Kalaasams. Each Kalaasam is repeated systematically from the first to the eighth step of footwork. A performance is a combination of playing of musical instruments, vocal recitations, dance, and peculiar makeup and costumes. The stage-practices of Theyyam and its ritualistic observations make it one of the most fascinating theatrical arts of India. 0
Styles of dance 
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There are approximately 400 types of Theyyam, including Pallivettakkorumakan, Vishnumoorthy and Sree Muthappan Theyyam.
Muthappan Anthithir 
Muthappan Anthithira is performed only once in all the Muthappan temples of North Malabar. The decoration of Muthappan Anthithira resembles that of Vettakorumakan from the front and that of Muthappan from the back. In July 2008, Muthappan Anthithira was performed in front of thousands of devotees in the famous Muthappan Madappura Temple, Nileshwar.
Padarkulangara Bhagavathy 
Worshipped in several Kavus as a mighty Goddess. This Theyyam was last performed in the Nileshwar Ankakalari Padarkulangara Bhagavathy Temple on 23 December 2008. The lengthy crown and ornaments of the Bhagavathy seem to add to her divine appearance. In the famous Koroth tharavad in Nileshwar the Padarkulangara Bagavathi Theyyam has been performed every year by the famous theyyam artist Suresh Babu Anjoottan.
The same has been performed in Muchilott Kavu, in Payyanur.
Puliyur Kali 
Performed in Karakkakavu, near Cheruvathur every three years. It is also performed in Kunathur Maadam near to Udinur. In all Muchilotu Kavu this kolam is performed with Kannangattu Bhagavathy and Muchilottu Bhagavathy. Thekkum Kara Karnamoorthy performs this kolam in Kunathur Maadam, which is the places for Payyadakkathu Tharavadu. This goddess is believed to be the daughter of Pullikarim Kali.Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Pullikarim Kali 
Pullikarimkali is performed in Karakkakavu, near Cheruvathur once every three years and Kalloori Puthiya Bhaghavathi Kshtram near Kallorikkadavu,Aroli every two years. and at Koovapratthu Kavu Kavinisseri (in Cherukunnu) and Kalloori Puthiya Bhaghavathi Kshtram near Kallorikkadavu,Aroli every two years. The Theyyam here is worshipped as the Goddess Parvathi. This theyyam is also performed in Koormba Bhagavathi Kavu, Kandoth and Sri Udayapuram Kavu, Paravanthatta, Payyanur.Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Pullikaringali is a goddess which is worshipped in Kasaragod and Kannur district. It is the avathara of Parvathi. She originated to kill Kalakandasura. Ayirathiri is the important function related to Pullikaringali, This theyyam is performed in Kalloori Puthiya Bhaghavathi Kshtram near Kallorikkadavu,Aroli every two years.we can see Pullikaringali Amma in Aivar Paradevatha Sthanangal of Malabar. Periya Sree Pulibhootha Devasthanam, Kizhakkam kara Pullikkaringali Devasthanam, Kasaragod Pulikkunnu, Kodavanchi Kulathur are the important temples where Pullikaringali Amma.Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Marapuli Theyyam is considered the son of Pulikandan and Pullikarimkali. This theyyam is performed in Kalloori Puthiya Bhaghavathi Kshtram near Kallorikkadavu,Aroli every two years. Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
This Theyyam is considered the son of Pulikandan and Pullikarimkali. It is performed in the early morning at about 3 am.Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Pulimaruthan Theyyam is considered the son of Pulikandan and Pullikarimkali. One among the Iver Theyyams, Pulimaruthan is worshiped in different Kavus [temples] by the devotees. Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Karinthiri Nair 
This Theyyam is associated with the Pulidaivangal.Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram,kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Puthiya Bhagavathy 
When Lord Shiva got smallpox, Rishis started a homa and Puthiya Bhagavathi is appeared from homakunda, she cures Shiva's disease and sent to Earth. Puthiya Bhagavathi is accompanied by Padakulngara Veeran and Veerakali in the performance. Puthiya Bhagavathi is the main deity of many shrines in Kannur including famous Sree Nadacheri Puthiya Bhagavathi Khetram AroliThalikavu situated in Kannur. Puthiya Bhagavathy is performed in Koovapratthu Kaavu Kavinisseri and in the Morazha Koorumba Kaavu in Pazhangottu, Matul, Thavam. There is a famous Puthiya Bhagavathy Kavu in Edakalam near to Chuzhali. This kavu has a history of more than five hundred years. It belongs to Edakalavan Koroth family. Kaliyattam performs vrichikam 27 every year. Pazhaya Parmbath Puthiya Bhagavathi Temple at Kanhirathara belongs to Maniyani caste is one of the Kavu were Puthiya Bhagavathi is performed. April 17 to 19 is the time of Kaliyattam here. Puthiya Bhagavathi theyyam is also performed in Cheriyoor Sri Puthya Kunnil Puthiya Bhagavathi Kshethram, which is 10KM away from Taliparamba towards Kooveri. Marathakkad sri iver paradevatha kshethram, kuppam,taliparamba on makaram 25 to makaram 28.
Kuttikol Thamburatti Theyyam 
At Kanathur near Kasaragod, the yearly Kuttikol Thamburatti Theyyam is celebrated by thousands of devotees. The venue is the Pazhayzparambath Puthiya Bhagavathy Kshethram, and the Theyyam is celebrated as a part of the Kaliyatta Maholsavam here. In 2008 it was organized on April 16, 17 and 18. This Theyyam is also conducted at Kanhirathara, Chirakkal, Kannur District, and the deities in the Theyyam here are Paruthi Veeran, Veerali, Bhadrakali, Vishnumoorthi, Gulikan and Vairabhan Uchitta.
Elayor Theyyam 
Celebrated yearly at Kanathur near Kasargod.
Muthur Theyyam 
Celebrated yearly at Kanathur near Kasargod.
There is an interesting fact about the performance of Vannathan Theyyam. This Theyyam is performed in only one temple, the Karakkakavu Temple that is in Kasaragod district and is done so in memory of a Kolakkaran [Theyyam artist] who died while staging Theyyam in the famous Karakkakavu.
Chuzhali Bhagavathy 
Chuzhali Bhagavathi temple is not a kavu. Chuzhali Devaswom is the term used to identify the temple community. The "Vigraham" of Bhagavathi was brought to Chuzhali and hidden in some fields. Some kids when playing, tried to clean the place using a broom, and found the ground bleeding, and got scared and informed elders. They found the "vigraham" and the temple was built there itself.
Kannangat Bhagavathy 
Every year, Kannangat Bhagavathy Theyyam is performed in the Kannangat Bhagavathy Temple, Payyannur. In several Muchilot Kavus, the Kannangat Bhagavathy Theyyam was performed along with the Muchilot Bhagavathy Theyyam. There are 11 Kannangattu Temples in Kannur district, and they are all located in the Payyannur area:-
- Adi Kotti Kannangattu Temple, near Payyannur Railway Station.
- Payyannur Sree Kokkanisheri Kannagattu Temple.
- Kandangali Karalikkara Kannangattu Temple, near the Municipal HSS, Payyannur.
- Ramanthali Thamarathuruthi Kannangattu Temple, in Ramanthali, 6 km from Payyannur.
- Edanadu kannangattu bhagavathi temple, near friends edat office(edat)
- Alapadamba Kannangattu Temple, near Mathil.
- Vellora Kannangattu Temple.
- Kuttor Kannangattu Temple.
- Peringom Kannangattu Temple, near the CRPF camp, Peringom.
- Kizhakke Allakadu Kannangattu Temple.
- Kankol kannangattu bhagavathi temple.
Kodoth Chamundi 
Performed once every two years in the main Kodoth Tharavadu house, Varikkulam, and every year in another Kodoth Tharavadu house. As per traditions, Chamundi Devi (an incarnation or form of Bhagavathy — the Supreme Goddess or the Mother Goddess) is accompanied by the first Kodoth Karanavar Chandrasekhara Gurukkal from Vanneri (near Guruvayur). Traditions hold that She helped him defeat the Bellakka Dynasty in battle. After that, he constructed a new Sambradayam called 'Varikkulam', and the Goddess is believed to have asked him to build a Palliyara at Parakulangara, Varikkulam. This place was selected by the Goddess as per Thrikkannayalappan's (Lord Shiva) instructions. Gurukkal built the first Kodoth Tharavadu very near to Parakulangara, at Varikkulam which is known as the Moolasthanam of Kodoth Tharavadu, and then started celebrating Kaliyattam every year beginning from Medam 21. This is the first place where Goddess Chamundi is believed to have shown her presence, and later she is believed to have extended her presence to many other Nair Tharavadus, subsequently resulting in their starting to conduct Kaliyattam as well every year.
Agni Kandakarnan 
Agni Kandakarnan is a theyyam performed at Swmaimadam in Kannu Veedu Kapadapuarm, Valiyaparamapa Kasaragod in Kerala. It is different Theyyam having heavy torches around the waist of the Kolam. This Theyyam is performed in the early morning in the Temple. It is also performed in Pattare Sree Paradevatha Kshethram in Nadapuram Kozhikode district on March 12 at the same time.
Moovalamkuzhi Chamundi 
The very name is indicative of the story behind the origin of Moovalamkuzhi Chamundi. Moovalam means three men and Kuzhi means well. So Moovalamkuzhi translates into a well as deep as the height of three men. The God worshiped here is the main deity of the temples of the weaver caste of north Malabar. The Theyyam season here begins every year with the performance of Moovalam Kuzhi Chamundi and the associated Theyyams on the 10th and the 11th of the Malayalam month of Thulam [1st half of October] in the famous Anjoottabalam Verar Kavu, Nileshwar.
Palot Daivam 
Performed yearly in the Palot Kavus [temples] in Nileshwar Vadayanthur Kazhakam, Kunhimangalam Malyot Palot Kavu, Azhikode Palot Kavu, Keecheri Palot Kavu etc. The Theyyam is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu [Matsya Avatara].
Dandinganath Bhagavathy 
Performed yearly in the Koroth Tharavadu, Nileshwar. Aracanut leaf with paintings in decoration is the unique feature of Dandiganath Bhagavathy Theyyam.
Padarkulangara Bhagavathy 
The Padarkulangara Bhagavathy Theyyam attracts devotees owing to the fascinating paintings on the face of the Koladhari. The person with the title of Anjootan has the right to perform as Padarkulangara Bhagavathy in the Koroth Tharavadu and the Mannanpurath Kavu Kalasam Festival.
Padamadakki Bhagavathy 
The origin of Padamadakki Thamburatti is related to the battle between the resident, ruling Nileshwar Raja and an invading force from the Karnataka region. The strength of the Karnataka forces frightened the Nileshwar Raja's Nair soldiers under the command of the Kalari experts, the Koroth Nairs. They prayed to the Koroth Nāga Bhagavathy, Kuttichathans [Sasthappan] and Bhairavan. The Gods acknowledged the appeals of the devotees and sent Padamadakki Bhagavathy. It is believed that upon seeing the Padamadakki Bhagavathy, the invading troops became unconscious and the Goddess thus averted a battle. Yearly, the Padamadakki Bhagavathy Theyyam is being performed in the Karoth temple in Kunhimangalam Panchayath in memory of the incident.
Manakkott Amma 
There is an interesting story behind the performance of Manakott Amma Theyyam. In the countryside of Nileshwar there existed a powerful Nair Tharavadu (household) known as Manakkott. Here lived a beautiful and educated woman. She wanted to challenge the caste rigidities and untouchability prevailing in the area. While she was carrying a child, she broke the caste law by drinking water from a pot made of aracanut leaf being used by an outcast. The incident provoked the Tharavadu Karanavar (head) and he murdered the woman. The murder of a pregnant woman created a lot of problems in the Tharavadu and it finally ceased to exist. Gradually the natives realised that the assassinated woman must have emerged as a Goddess who they called Manakkott Amma. Yearly, the Theyyam here is being performed in the Vairajathan Temple, Malappacherry, Nileshwar in the month of April.
Karim Chamundi 
Performed in the regions of Perumba river. Earlier the Theyyam festival of Karim Chamundi required the sacrifice of a goat. With dark coloured face paintings the Theyyam performed at midnight is frightening. Women and children are not permitted to watch the Karim Chamundi Theyyam.
Muthala Theyyam 
Performed every year in the month of October in Naduvil in Kannur District. From the beginning to the end the Theyyam drags into the ground. Devotees worship this deity to cure diseases.
Elleduth Bhagavathy 
Adukunnath Bhagavathy 
Performed at Adukunnath Tharavadu Temple, Koroth near Payyannur.
Narambil Bhagavathy 
Narambil Bhagavathy originated from the famous Rayaramangalam Temple.
Chembilot Bhagavathy 
It tells the story of a Brahmin who came from Chembilot, a place near Kannur to Chandera, in Kasaragod district. That man started his livelihood as a priest in the temple in Chandera. After several years of serving the God he got His blessings. Then he left Chandera handing over the priestly rights to Olavara Theeyan. The Brahmin has since been worshiped as Chembilot Bhagavathy by the natives.
Performed in the Kurunthil Kottaram, Karivellur yearly. It is the seat of a group of Pothuvals.
Vellarangara Bhagavathy 
Worshipped by the Pothuval community of Thayineri, Annur, Vellur and Karivellur.
Mayyakkal Bhagavathy 
With lighted torches around the stomach, the Mayyakal Bhagavathy Theyyam created a sensation in Mayyal in Kasaragod district on 30 March 2008.
Koroth Naga Bhagavathy 
Koroth Naga Bhagavathy is more like a Thira than a Theyyam. But all the rituals and the devotion of the devotees establish that Koroth Naga Bagavathy is more than a theyyam. No picture of the theyyam is available because of the strict vigilance of the devotees. In this high tech society people feared to take the photo of the Theyyam. The Koroth Naga Bhagavathy Temple is in the middle of a forest. It is protected by walls and in the centre is built the Nagathara. Praying for the cure of diseases and for having children, thousands throng this place and pray to the deity. The Ayiyur Koroth Tharavadu Bhagavathy Temple is locally famous as an important centre of Nagaradhana (snake worship). Kumbam 3rd is observed as the day of the main Theyyam festival in the Koroth Naga Bagavathi temple, Ayiyur. Years ago, Puja in this temple was performed by the Koroth Namboothiris of Chovva near Kannur. The Koroth Namboothiris were mentioned in the story of Vishnumoorthi Temple, Cheemeni. Ayillam day is famous for the Sarpabali in the temple. Lakhs of people from Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu annually assemble here on this religious occasion. Various factors contributed to the disintegration of Koroth Tharavadu into several small groups. They helped the Rajas of Wayanadu, the Kozhikode Zamorin, the Kolathiris and others. The word Koroth derives from 'Ko' meaning King and 'Othikkan' meaning regulators.
Also known as Sasthappan, Kuttichathan Theyyam attracts thousands of devotees. At Pallor Koroth Tharavadu, several Kuttichathan Theyyams come together to give blessings to devotees. In 2008 around 40 Kuttichathan Theyyams were performed in the presence of several people. In 2009, 47 Kuttichathan Theyyams were performed at the Koroth Tharavadu in Pallur. Here, a revolutionary step with regard to traditions was taken for the first time by the Tharavadu authorities, when they prohibited liquor within the premises of the temple. It is also performed in pattare sree paradevatha temple in Nadapuram in kozhikode district
Padinhare Chamundi 
Performed in the Malayalam month of Medam with a gap of two years. The festival was last held on 15 and 16 April 2008, in the Chamundi Kavu situated near the Nileshwar bus stand at Koroth-N.H 17 Road.
Vettakorumakan is believed to be the son of Lord Shiva and Parvathy, born when they incarnated as hunters (vettakkaran) in front of Arjuna who was doing tapasya in a forest for 'Paasupathastram' (a powerful arrow as per Hindu mythology). It is believed that later Vettakorumakan as a child appeared in a fort (kota) at Balussery (now in Kozhikode Dist, Kerala) which belongs to a Nair family. Local king Karumbanadu Vazhunnor has taken the possession of the fort and told the family that he will give back the fort only if some kid from the family could break 21600 coconuts with in time of closing and opening the eye, which was impossible task. There appeared Vettakkorumakan and completed the task and hence helped the Nair family to be back in their fort. Thereafter Vettakkorumakan become paradevatha for many Nair families.
The theyyam is performed in several Nair Tharavadus between Payyannur and Kannur.
Mavila Chamundi 
It took place at mavila tharavad in kasaragod/kannur. There are number of mavila-nambiar tharavadu. Alakkat mavila-pazhavathil mavila puthiyaveetil, chemnat mavila, mavila chathoth, mavila puthyaveetil, mavila etc. are major mavila tharavadu's. mavila kottam at thaliparamba was once a ritual place of mavila nambiars. mavila tharavadu was one of the richest landlord famiiy in malabar.
Performed in several Nair Tharavadus from Payyannur and Kannur. On Dhanu 21 at Sree Vettakkorumakan Temple, Blathur
Thiyya caste gave a special attention on worshipping their ancestors as theyyams. There is a saying "thiyyan moothal theyyam" means when a thiyyan grows old he becomes theyyam. The persons who were experts in martial practise is worshipped as 'Kudiveeran'('kudi' means house and 'veeran' means a martial hero). The performance of this theyyam needs some martial or 'Kalari' skills.
Yearly two veerabadran theyyams performed in the famous ashtamachal bagavathy temple in Payyanur.
Performed in several temples. Believed to cure diseases.
Kandanar Kelan 
Kandanar Kelan was a yesteryear warrior. The story goes that once Kandanar Kelan was out hunting in the forest when suddenly the forest caught fire. Finding no other means of escape he climbed a tree. This tree was also the home of two snakes. The fire consumed the tree, the snakes and Kandanar Kelan. Vayanat Kulavan, another warrior god was passing by the burnt forest when he saw the image of Kandanar Kelan in the ashes. With his bow he traced out Kandanar Kelan and gave him life. The theyyam is an embodiment of the Kandanar Kelan and how he shows his anger towards the fire for burning him up. The theyyam very prominently has two snakes drawn on his chest that depict the snakes that perished with him in the fire. Kandanar Kelan runs through the fire dressed in his silk and wearing metal anklets, perhaps the only theyyam to do so. The rest of the theyyams who interact with fire like the Uchitta bhagavathi wear costumes made of tender coconut leaves. Kandanar Kelan is performed yearly at the Nambiar Makkuni Tharawad at Azhikode, Kannur district. Regularly, the Kandanar Kelan Theyyam is performed as a part of the Vayanat Kulavan Theyyamket Utsavam. There was an interesting ritual in olden days. Hundreds of hunters would go to the nearby forest and capture large numbers of animals. The hunted animals were cut into pieces in front of the Kandanar Kelan Theyyam. The Marapilarkal ritual attracts thousands of people. The Theyyam then would leap over a huge pyre.
Vayanat Kulavan 
Vayanatt kulavan can be considered as one of the most furious and acrobatic theyyams which are performed. Theyyam is usually performed with a bit of holy alcohol called Toddy. Vayanatt Kulavan is believed to be originated when Lord Shiva and Parvathi took the form of Hunters. The tale of origin is associated with Lord Shiva and Parvathy. Once they were travelling through forest called madhuvanam. Lord Shiva used to intake the toddy that used to drip from the trees (During those days, toddy used to drip from the bottom of the trees). Parvathy disliked this habit. One day when Shiva went for the intake, he found that the toddy which used to drip from the bottom had gone upwards. This agitated him. Shiva became furious. This trick was, in fact, done by Parvathy Devi. In order to fetch the toddy, Shiva created a divine person, by tapping on his thigh. This divine person is considered as the son of Shiva, That is Vayanatu kulavan. Vayanat Kulavan brought toddy to Shiva. Lord Shiva had warned him not to drink the toddy ("madhu"/intoxicating divine nectar) that Lord Shiva had stored in the forest. Vayanat Kulavan could not control his greed and looked into the vat of "madhu". When he did so he was blinded in both eyes. Later Lord Shiva gave him two silver eyes. Therefore the Theyyam of Vayanat Kulavan performs what is known as the "Manangi aattam" where the performer wears a pair of silver eyes. In the "Manangi aattam" the theyyam holds a lighted bunch of coconut fronds and performs a slow dance, bending over and waving the light in front of his eyes as if looking for a way. This ritual is performed in the wee hours of the morning and is simply beautiful. This theyyam generally has white hair and a big white and red hairdress. The Vayanat Kulavan theyyam is held yearly at the Nambiar Makkuni Tharawad at Azhikode and the Nambiar tharavad, Vediyera Chandroth of Kuttiyatoor, Kannur. The Vayanat Kulavan Theyyam is also performed in an elaborate manner in Kasaragod district. Thiyyas consider Vayantttu Kulavan as their 'Thondachan' (elder member of the family). In 2008 the Vayanat Kulavan Theyyamket Mahotsavam was held in a certain Pattayil Tharavadu. It will always be remembered as a huge step in the direction of communal harmony. Hindus and Muslims both participated in the arrangements for the festival with great enthusiasm.
Kunhiraman Gurukkal 
Kunhiraman Gurukkal born to a Thiyya family in Kootali near Kannur. Kolath thampuran became jealous on his abilities and killed him. After his murder Thampuran became mad and as an astrological remedy Gurukkal is worshipped as a theyyam. A more than three-meter-long knife is used by the Kunhiraman Gurikkal [gurukkal] Theyyam. The Theyyam is staged in association with the Kathivanur Veeran Theyyam festival.
Kathivanur Veeran 
KathivannurVeeran is performed on the memory of a great warrior named mandhappan. He was born to a Thiyya family in Mangad near Thaliparamba. Kumarachan of Methalliyillam and his wife Chakkiyamma had no children. The couples made offerings to Chuzhali goddess and Mandhappan was born. Even though he became a grownup youth he was not ready to leave his habit of playing silly games. Kumarachan became disappointed and asked Mandhappan to giveup his habits and to do some job. But Mandhan continued his anarchist way of life, by refusing to do any job. Oneday Kumarachan broke Mandhan's bow and arrow and threw it out. This incident made Mandhappan very angry, he left his native and went to coorg, where his uncle residing. There he got a warm welcome and uncle gave half of his properties to Mandhan. On his aunts advice Mandhappan started a business of oil there. One day he saw a girl taking bath in the river, she was Chemmarathi being attracted with her beauty Mandhan married her. At that time kutakas started a war against malayalans. Mandhan and his friends participated in that war and defeated kutakas. But unfortunately he have lost one of his finger and ring on it, Mandhan returned to the battle field to get back his ring, enemies saw him coming alone and killed him. Chemmarathi killed herself by jumping into mandhappan's funeral pyre. For the performance of Kathivanur Veeran great excellence is needed in the martial art of Kalaripayattu.
In the north east part of Kerala, on the border with Karike District, Karnataka, there is a place called Kizhakke Kovilakam / Manjadukkam Kovilakam / Tulurvanath Kovilakam, the seat of Katoor Nairs. Katoor Nairs had adhikara over 64000 hectares of land covering from Karike to Odayanchal in the South. Katoor Nairs actually belong to the Ballal community of Sullia, who had to flee to Tulurvanam for fear of conversion to Jainism. The main seat of Kalari payattu, Munnayareeshwaran is the son of Katoor Kanna Ballal, an exponent of Tulunadan system of Kalari. Munnayareeshwaran is the Ketti kolam (Theyyam form) of Chandu Nair, who became a Deewan of Kizhakke Kovilakam under the rule of Katoor Nairs.
Katoor Narayanan Nambiar was the last Managing trustee and ruler of Karike Tulunad, Manjandukkam Kovilakam Temple. Thereafter Katoor Thampan Nair, his eldest nephew is running the activities of Manjadukkam. Manjadukkam Kovilakam follows matrilineal system of transfer of succession.
Performed every year in the famous Madiyan Koolom Temple, Kanhangad.
Performed each year in the famous Madiyan Koolom Temple, Kanhangad. Cheese is regularly served as an offering to the deities in addition to cows being slaughtered.
Performed yearly in the famous Madiyan Koolom Temple, Kanhangad Performed yearly in Kelambathu Tharavadu Kottam, Blathur, Kannur on 23rd Makaram.
Thoovakkari Muthappan 
Thoovakkari Muthappan Theyyam is performed in the Palliyath Matappura of Palathayi.
Gandharvan & Yakshi 
Gandharvan Theyyam and Yakshi Theyyam are very rare in Kerala. These Theyyams are performed in Palliyath Unupiladath Tharavadu at Padinzhattamkozhuval, Nileshwaram (Kasargod Dist). Kalamezhuthu and Kalampattu are performed prior to the performance. Several other theyyams are also performed at this tharavadu.
Perum Kaliyattam 
In some Kavus the Theyyam festival is conducted in intervals of 12 or more years. These kinds of festivals are known as Perumkaliyattam. In 2008, Perumkaliyattams were celebrated in Ramanthali Muchilot Kavu, Kalayikode Muchilot Kavu and Mandur Padinjatta Thiruvarkat Bhagavathy Temple. From 19 to 24 February 2008 Perumkaliyattam was held in Kenamangalam Kazhakam, Pallikkera near Nileshwar and Also in Edat Thiruvarkattu Bagavathi Temple.
See also 
- Killius, Rolf (2006), Ritual Music and Hindu Rituals of Kerala, New Delhi: BR Rhythms, ISBN 81-88827-07-X.
- Kurup, KKN (March 1986), Theyyam – A Ritual Dance of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram: Director of Public Relations, Government of Kerala. 
- The Birth of Indian Civilization, 1968, p. 3039.
- A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.129""
- A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.127-128""
- A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.130""
- A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.128-129""
- Dancing God of Kerala, The American Bazaar]
Further reading 
- Daugherty, Diane (Autumn 2000). "Fifty Years on: Arts Funding in Kerala Today". Asian Theatre Journal (University of Hawai'i Press) 17 (2). JSTOR 1124491.
- Freeman, J. R. (May 1999). "Gods, Groves and the Culture of Nature in Kerala". Modern Asian Studies (Cambridge University Press) 33 (2): 257–302. JSTOR 313169.
- Ashley, Wayne (June 1979). "The Teyyam Kettu of Northern Kerala". The Drama Review: TDR (The MIT Press) 23 (2): 99–112. JSTOR 1145219..
Media related to Theyyam at Wikimedia Commons
- Vengara, the Land of Theyyam.
- Kaliyattam: Theyyam Images, History, Kaav.
- Theyyam calendar, including images.
- Sree Andalurkavu.