Residents in Kerala's Kannur town performed Theyyam, a traditional monsoon ritual and sought blessings from gods for peace and prosperity in every household.
'Theyyam' dance or invocation is generally performed in front of the village shrine. It is also performed in the houses as ancestor-worship with elaborate rites and rituals.
The chief dancer who propitiates the central deity of the shrine has to reside in the rituals. Further, after the sun sets, this particular dancer would not eat anything for the remainder of that day.
The dancer along with the drummers recites the particular ritual song, which describes the myths and legends, of the deity of the shrine or the folk deity to be propitiated.
A senior artist, Jagdishan Pannicker who participates in 'Theyyam' every year, said: "According to the legend, Lord Shiva appeared as a hunter to give the 'Pashupatastra' to Arjuna for use during the Mahabharata battle. This day falls on the first day of Karkidakam Month. On this day he decanted to earth to bless the people and relieve them from all kind of curses and evil spells. This ritual is performed by Malayanmar caste, there is another set of rituals from the 16th of the Karkidakam Month which is done by Perumannan caste."
Theyyam performers visit every household in the village and the privilege of participating in the ritual belongs only to the tribal communities.
The Theyyam dancers appear during the annual festivals of gods and goddesses.
The dances traditionally performed in front of devotees present a visual feast. Theyyam represents the collective conscience of a village, and is a magical mixture of temple rituals, folk art and rustic ballads, which tell stories about the land. There are around 400 'Theyyams' representing various local deities, legendary and mythological characters. Theyyam remains an original source for anthropological studies and could hold the key to the evolution of primitive religion. (ANI)