top of page
  • Writer's pictureDe Kochi

Theyyam – Popular Traditional Ritual Art in Malabar

Theyyam – Traditional Ritual Art in North Kerala

Theyyam or Theyyattam, (Malayalam: തെയ്യം) is one of the popular Hindu ritual arts in north Kerala, especially in Malabar area. It is considered as the dancing form of God. Most of the Theyyams are representing the Goddess mother, and art performance is for worshiping the God. Ancient and ritual folk art Theyyattam performance also intended to worship the heroes in the mythology.


Temple priest known as Komaram or Velichappadu (Oracle) performs just before ritual art performance

Origin of Word

The word Theyyam is derived from the word ‘daivam’ and literally means God. This popular ritual art is generally performed in front of the village shrine (Kavu). It is also performed in the houses with elaborate rites and rituals. It is performed with the rhythm of ritual song known as ‘thottam pattu’, which describes the myths and legends, of the deity of the shrine.

Photos of the Ritual Art

Following are the HD quality images of the ritual art performance captured from various shrines, around Kannur. Photos of theyyam make up, performance are included in the images attached here.



Transition of Man to God – Make up (Chutti kuth)


Final touch of make up


Wearing the costumes (Theyyam-kettal)


Anklets (Chilambu) of Kshethrapalan

Types of Theyyam

This most popular ritual art performance is the combination of music and dance. Each performance is differed from one other, and varied according to the belief and worshiping deities of the shrine (Kavu). About 500 types are in this popular ritual art Theyyam, and a hundred of them are most common. The origins of each individual theyyattam are different from their region and believes.


Drum beats (Chenda Melam) music beats for theyyam performance


October to November is the season time for the Theyyattam performance. Theyyattam, that has been performed in temple (Kavu) home for the term is generally called ‘Kaliyattam’. Perunkaliyattam is the one of the festivals performed every 10 to 12 years. Find the Month, Date and Timing of Theyyattam performance in temples at Kannur, kerala


Performance of Neeliyar Bhagavathi

Variety of Theyyam

Theyyams are mainly categorized in four types. Bhagavathi Theyyams, Saiva Vaishnava Theyyams, Manushika Theyyams, Purana Theyyams are the four classifications of theyyams based on the character and performance. About 112 theyyams are performed in Malabar, North Kerala.


Neeliyar Bhagavathi – Kappothu Kavu, Kalliassery, Kannur


Performance of Neeliyar Bhagavathi Kappothu Kavu


Ilamkolam Para Devatha and Kshethra Palan at Keezhara Kulom Bhagavathy Temple


Muchilottu Bhagavathy one of the most important Bhagavathi Theyyams


Ilamkolam Para Devatha


Performance of Gurukkal Daivam


Performance of Kandanar Kelan with fire


Narahari Bhagavan


Vishnu Gulikan (Rare in Malabar)

**©Photo Courtesy: Muchilottu Bhagavathy, Gurukkal Daivam, Kandanar Kelan, Narahari Bhagavan, Vishnu Gulikan

10 views0 comments
bottom of page