|Theyyam-- folk art of Kerala
also known as Kaliyattom, is a ritualistic folk dance of Kerala
(India), dating back to centuries. It flourished in North Kerala and
assumed the characteristics of a socio-religious ceremony.
The root of the art form is in divine and hero
worship. The sacred dance is methodically carried out to ensure safety
and well being of the families and the community.
Villages were duty bound to organise it to
propitiate the gods and goddesses and the spirits of departed heroes.
Hence, it was also called Thirayattom, which means dance of the village
or village dance.
The ritual used to be performed at the
sacred groves, shrines that were common property of the villages.
Performances were conducted also before other places of worship and
courtyards of influential families. The season for the performance is
between December and May (summer).
Each manifestation of Thirayattom is known as
a kolam, which means a shape or form. They represent different aspects
of various manifestations of goddess kali or other heroes and heroines.
Many kolam of heroes and heroines have development over the years.
Each Kolam will have a different dress, hood and
ornaments that bring forth their heroic aspects. Elaborately furnished
crowns, head dress, breast places, garlands, bangles and arm
ornaments and garments are used for this purpose. The make up of some
kolams would take hours to complete.
The dance is performed at night in the light
of cloth and leaf torches (theevetties, panthoms and chootes).
The red high contrast light emphasises the colours of attire and adds
to the aura of the kolams.
The appearance of the kolam will be preceded
by a song about the strength and holy aspects of the kolam to the
accompaniment of percussion instruments, chenda and elathalam.
The kolam performs various types dancing and
it is believed that the spirit of the god, goddess, hero or heroine
migrates into the person. The dance may take slow or fast pace
depending upon his character. Sometimes even weapons are used.