Theyyam or Kaliyattam is a popular ritual form of worship that originated in North Kerala, predominantly in the Kannur and Kasaragod districts. It’s a living cult with several thousand-year-old traditions that encompass dance, mime and music. It exalts the beliefs of aristocratic Thiyyas, who gave a lot of importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of their ancestors. It’s often performed in kavus (sacred groves) throughout northern Kerala.Theyyam season starts from November to April. There are annual rituals at each of the hundreds of kavus. Theyyams are often held to bring good fortune to important events, example, marriages. In peak times (December to February) there should be a Theyyam ritual happening somewhere almost every night in Kannur District.
The ceremonious dance is accompanied by the chorus of such musical instruments as Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal and Veekku Chenda. There are many separate Theyyams, each with their own music, style and choreography. The most prominent character in Theyyams are Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, Wayanadu Kulaven, Gulikan and Pottan.
Each artist represents a hero with great power. Performers wear heavy make-up and adorn flamboyant costumes. The headgear and ornaments are truly majestic and fill one with a