How Artists Are Keeping the Ancient Practice of Theyyam Alive (Video)
In Kerala, a state nestled in the southern part of India, the age-old tradition of Theyyam persists, defying the relentless march of time. This ritualistic form of worship, deeply ingrained in the cultural tapestry of North Kerala's Malabar region, is an artistic endeavor that transcends generations. Rooted in antiquity, some believe that the origins of Theyyam stretch as far back as neolithic times. The transmission of Theyyam knowledge follows a traditional approach, with elders as mentors. Younger generations observe and imitate, learning through practice rather than formal education. The Krishnan family has upheld this tradition at their ancestral estate for three generations.
Each year they invite performers from lower castes to participate, transcending societal boundaries. Theyyam is a mesmerizing blend of dance, mime, and music, deeply intertwined with the natural world. Through intricate performances, artists transform into deities, evoking a spiritual connection with the spectators. This profound expression of faith and artistry is a sight to behold. In a rapidly changing world, where traditions often fade into obscurity, Theyyam stands as a symbol of the resilience of culture. Artists, without lingering on the past, keep this ancient practice alive, breathing life into rituals that connect the present with an ageless past.
Top image: Dancer at a traditional Theyyam ceremony, India. Source: Dietmar Temps / Adobe Stock.