Theyyem Traditional Dance I

Theyyam is basically a form of dance, it is an artistic as well as sacred folk art. As a cult, its origin can be traced back to rituals and practices of primitive society. It has an historical continuity of over 1500 years and it passed through several stages of evolution. The cult of Theyyam has hundreds of deities. The classical Hindu mythology had greatly influenced in shaping many Gods and Goddesses of the Theyyam cult. Several ancient pictures of worship relating to the mother Goddess, hero and hero stones, village Goddess, serpent Goddess and animal God and Goddess continue in the Theyyam cult. The Theyyams are essentially forms of hero worship when the dead heroes and martyrs are invoked through song and dance and magical symbols, and the main episodes from their lives are enacted in an attempt to propitiate their spirit though there are also Theyyams of deities from Puranic lore. These heroes and martyrs of Theyyam are certainly of the medieval type, but the beliefs and practices behind the ritual must naturally stretch backward to prehistoric times.

--Rati Saxena