Because the monsoon begins in June, the season of Theyyam — a ritual dance carried out in a myriad varieties within the northern Malabar area of Kerala — winds up. Silence shrouds the sacred groves of the hilly tracts after the tip of the scorching summer time when Theyyams danced to the frenzied chenda beats.
It pours closely throughout the Malayalam month of Karkidakam (July-August). And with the rain comes a slew of maladies. That’s when Adivedan and Galinjan, Theyyams carried out by boys, come to Malabar’s households to bounce and drive out illnesses. Throughout the rain-drenched panorama of the Malabar, they journey carrying elaborate jewelry, brilliant pink apparel and a crown, and go right into a trance, swaying to the beats of a single chenda.
Parthiv, 9, from the Malaya caste, belongs to a clan of Theyyam performers from Madikai village in Kasaragod. He’s the chosen one this season. Daily, between eight a.m. and four p.m., Parthiv treks door to door as Adivedan, to weed out illnesses. As he steps into a house, households mild the lamp within the puja room. As soon as the trance-dance is over, the dancer does rituals to solid out illnesses. The ladies of the home then lay the lit wick on the ground and sprinkle water and holy ash round it.
Adivedan is Shiva who seems as a hill hunter earlier than Arjuna to check the energy of his devotion. It’s this story that’s sung as an incantation when the Adivedan Theyyam goes right into a trance.
There was a time when the Theyyam would go to on daily basis for practically a month. Now the visits are restricted to Saturdays and Sundays when faculties are closed.
Pictures & textual content by Thulasi Kakkat