Theyyam: The Dance of Divinity

Theyyam dance UPSC

Context: Theyyam dance is performed annually during the Malayalam months of Thulam (Mid-October-mid-November).

About Theyyam

  • Theyyam, also referred to as Kaliyattom, is a traditional folk-dance ritual that is practiced in northern Kerala and certain parts of Karnataka.
  • A similar practice known as Bhuta Kola is followed in the Tulunadu region of neighbouring Karnataka.
  • Over time, it has evolved into a socio-religious ceremony with its roots in the worship of divinities and heroes.
  • Villages were obligated to organize Theyyam as an act of appeasement towards gods, goddesses, and the spirits of departed heroes. As a result, it was also known as Thirayattom, signifying the dance of the village.
  • Notably, a significant number of Theyyam deities originated from individuals belonging to the lower castes of Kerala’s caste system.
  • Theyyam is performed by individuals from castes and tribes such as Pulayar, Vannan, Malayan, Velan, and Kalanaadi.
  • There are approximately 456 documented types of Theyyams, and it is primarily a male performance tradition, except for the Devakkoothu Theyyam, which is the only Theyyam ritual performed by women.
Theyyam dance

Ritual Performance

  • The first segment of the performance is commonly referred to as Vellattam or Thottam.
  • This ceremonial dance is accompanied by a chorus and the use of musical instruments like Chenda, Elathalam, Kurumkuzal, and Veekkuchenda.

Prelims Previous Year Question (2014)

Q. With reference to the famous Sattriya dance, consider the following statements:

  1. Sattriya is a combination of music, dance and drama.
  2. It is a centuries-old living tradition of Vaishnavites of Assam.
  3. It is based on classical Ragas and Talas of devotional songs composed by Tulsidas, Kabir and Mirabai.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (b)

Practice Question for Prelims

Q. With reference to the cultural history of India, which one of the following is the correct description of “Theyyam”?

(a) Ritualistic dance form associated with the Kingdom of Travancore.

(b) Ritualistic dance primarily associated with the Brahmin community of Kerala.

(c) Folk dance in Kerala, primarily associated with the Pulayas community.

(d) An ancient martial art tradition in some parts of South India.

Answer: (c)

Source: The Hindu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 20 MB. You can upload: image, document, archive, other. Drop files here

Free UPSC MasterClass
This is default text for notification bar