Malabar Diary Part 2: Theyyam Festival
February to May every year is the Theyyam season in Malabar area (Comprising Kasaragod, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode and Malappuram districts of Kerala). The entire village population, irrespective of religious, political or economic status differences, participate in organizing the celebrations. Some "Theyyams" are around family deities. Nambudiri Illam, mostly concentrated in and around Payyanur have a variant of Theyyam called "Kaliyattam"
Theyyam festivals in Malabar area belongs to an interesting art form mixing folklore, religious beliefs and the human urge to celebrate.
Olden days, my father's Illam (Kannamkulam Illam near Payyanur) used to have grand celebration of Kaliyattam once in 12 years. There was a long gap, due to financial conditions, no celebration was there. Few years back, the present generation arranged one "Kaliyattam" there, for which I was also invited. The whole night, several theyyams came and performed and it was not over even next morning, when we left the place.
M G Warrier