Kerala Kaliyattam Festival
The Kaliyattam festival is an annual Theyyam festival held in the temples in Kerala’s Malabar region.
About Theyyam Festival
Theyyam is the name of a grand dance festival that is held in different parts of Kerala, including Kasargod.
Theyyam consists of thousand-year-old rituals, traditions, and customs. The people of these districts where this festival is celebrated consider Theyyam as a channel to a god and they thus seek blessings.
There are around 456 different varieties of Theyyam. Males perform Theyyam, with the exception of the Devakoothu Theyyam, which is the only Theyyam ritual done by women. It can only be seen at the Thekkumbad Kulom temple.
In the North Malabar region of Kerala, Theyyam is performed. The North Malabar region consists of present-day Kannur Districts, Kasargod, Vadakara and Koyilandy Taluks of Kozhikode and Mananthavady Taluk of Wayanad.
Performance of the Ritual
Generally, the dance is performed in front of the village shrine. It is also practiced as ancestor worship in homes, with elaborate rituals and rites. For the performance, there is no stage, curtain, or another similar setup. The devotees would either be standing or sitting in front of the shrine on a sacred tree. The shrine’s performance of a particular deity, depending on its hierarchy and significance, lasts 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The chief dancer who worships the shrine’s central deity has to reside in the rituals.
The dancer, accompanied by the drummers, recites the ritual song, which narrates the stories and tales of the shrine’s deity or the folk deity to be worshipped. Folk musical instruments are played in the background.