The word Daivam in Malayalam language means God. The words itself has certain similarities in pronunciation and has the logic to think that the word Theyym is a corrupt form of the word Daivam.
There are Aushtanamss ( special holy rituals) like Thirayatam, Kaliyatam. It is also a form of Theyyam.
The history says that Mannarkkadan Gurikkal is the reformer of Theyyam. The story connected with him is as follows. Kolathiri Raja was the ruler of ancient Kolathnadu (places near Kannur district in Kerala). Kolathiri came to know about Mannarkkaadan and his extra ordinary capabilities.. So he immensely decided to test Mannarkkaadan.
The Raja challenged the Mannarkkaadan to create and perform 39 different Theyyam in one night, which is impossible for an ordinary man. But he proved his brilliant capabilities by doing so in one night and the Kingdom honoured Mannarkadan with Gurikkal staus and popularly Mannarkkaadan Gurikkal.
The history describes that Mannarkkaadan Gurikkal is the creator of Theyyam. But there are critics from certain corner , because any types of marvelous art forms cannot be created in one day. Theyyam, such a dazzling one, definitely cannot be shaped in a day. It has to undergo several changes and polishing in the sprinting of years. Also, the lingo used in Theyyam is very old and stands far-flung from that of the era when Mannarkkaadan Gurikkal resided.
So, Theyyam must have started in a prehistoric period. It was refined and refined and acquired its final stage centuries back itself. That primeval final state is what we experience today. Popularly known as God’s own country Kerala is rich in folk culture and festivals incorporating with dance, music, colours and lights; a pure traditional inheritance of common cultural heritage of India.
Angakkaran (see Nov 5, Thulam 19 Theyyam calendar) in Malayalam means ‘Fighter’. The story related to the deity was a dual fight between the two heroes Angakkaran and Marutola in a place called in Payyur hills in which the hero Angakkaran defeated the Marutola (enemy) named Kelu. After the defeat, the enemy became disappeared and was hiding somewhere for a few days. As soon as he reached the place again there was a dual fight among them and he was killed by Angakkaran. In theyyam performance, the Marutola is represented by another theyyam with a simple make up with a sword in his hand and a red head dress. During that time the sword of the Marutola is taken by Angakkaran theyyam and he acts, as if, he were stabbing the enemy. The very terms Angakkaran means a person who conducts Angam or duel fight in the traditional manner of Payatu (fight). People worship this deity for success in evil and criminal suits and for the recovery of stolen or lost articles like ornaments. As this theyyam relates to a warrior, the performer has to undergo training in Kalari Payatu, a trditional warfare of Kerala state.
Aryapoonkanni, (see Feb 14-15 Kumbam 2-3 in Theyyam calendar) was born as prettiest, noble and divine girl of ‘Aryapattar and Aryapattathi’. She was leading a happy life. Her extreme greed to ornaments and the avarice to wear the peral ornaments led her parents to a sea voyage.They arranged an old canoe by making certain repair work with clothes and mat and started journey along with her six brothers. But their return trip was ended in a tragedy. The boat collapsed in the heavy storm and all of them were fell in the sea. They got certain wreckage of the ship and everybody caught hold of it and was flowing in the sea. They were in sea about seven days and on eighth day they landed on a sea shore but they were separated each other. While sitting on the sea shore the girl has seen a small wooden trough with a man (Bappiriyan). She cried for help from the boat man but he refused to attend her initially. By the time she has shown certain divine miracles and the man became astonished by seeing all her activities and agreed to get in to the boat for search of her brothers. Finally she met them at ‘Venmalatinkara’ but the brothers decided to settle there. But she refused to stay with them and started journey with ‘Bappiriyan’, the boat man and landed at ‘Kuran Kunnu’ a place in North Malabar and later “Kaithakeel Ambalam’. To propitiate the deity most of the temples in North Kerala perform the theyyam along with Bappiriyan Theyyam.
Badrakali, (see Nov 27-28 Vrischikam 11, 12 in Theyyam calendar) is one of the noble wordly theyyam usually performed by “Pananmar”. The story behind this theyyam is that; when Kalidevi became matured she demanded a new cloth from Lord Mahadev for taking bath. But he directed her to “Aryankara Peruvannathi” and she also refused give it and also warned her not to take bath from the nearby pool. Kali became angry and she decapitates “Vannathi”. It is believed that later on “Vannathi” transformed in to a Theyyam. Kali again fought with twelve “Aryans” not for giving the share of Aryans wealth and beheaded all the twelve. With the head she made a chain and she wearied on her neck.
Bhairavan Theyyam is a favourite God of ‘Pananmar’ and had an impressive myth regadrding the deity. It is believed that the ‘Cheruthandathi’ who belongs to ‘Cheruthandan Monastery’ could not conceive a child and was following a strict meditation and fasting for fourty one days by worshiping the God. During fasting she made an offerings that she would feed thousand ‘Yogis’ in the Monastery. God ‘Adinathan’ blessed her and he made her prayer fulfilled by giving a male child ‘Cheeralan’. Seven years old ‘Cheralan’ had his primary education and before send to higher studies they decided to gratify the divine offerings they made. ‘Cheruthandan’ visited the Monastery for inviting the ‘Yogis’ but he was astonished by seeing the wantonly scene there and he cursed them. Irritated ‘Yogis’ pledged to retaliate by demanding the blood and bone of ‘Cheeralan’ for the feast. Helpless “Cheruthandan’ ought to obey them and he killed the young ‘Cheeralan’ and served to ‘Yogis’.When they start to eat they all could see the bones were trembling from their vessel. They all frightened decided to conduct a fire pooja and to gratify the God. But the thing was quite different they again saw the ‘Cheeralan’ emerging from the fire pit. along with some other deities like Agni Bhairavan, Yogi Bhairavan, Sakthi Bhairavan and Adi Bhairavan. ‘Yogis’ were decided to worship all these deities as their divine God.
“Where women are honored there resides the God” . The Hindu mythology witnesses that the status of Hindu woman during the Vedic period was honorable and respectable. The history described that they had played a great role in molding and upholding the civilization. Attainment of women in intellectual and spiritual field is resplendent and intellectuals like Mata Amrithanandamayi’s (Amma) influence is not only confined to the Indian continent. Believe it or not still there are Goddesses living in and around us. It is the reality that in Thekkumbad a small island in Kannur District, Kerala people deify a woman who can capable of metamorphoses in to a living deity.
The name ‘Thekkumbad’ originated from the words ‘thekki’ means deposit and ‘mad’ means small land. It is a small land area, a beautiful lush green island, formed by the erosion from the nearby Arabian Sea. The place which looks like a coconut forest belongs to the Mattool Panchayath . The geographical importance to the island is impressive; and the history described that the place was rules by the Land lord ‘Chirakkal Kolathiri Raja’. It was an important gateway for the foreign traders and the large scale export of spices and other major goods had done through the island by using the adjacent Azheekal port. The major rivers connected with this area are Payangadi river, Thekkumbad river, Mattool river and Valapatanam river. Recently a bridge has constructed to connect the island with nearby Kannapuram Panchayath.
The two temples; the Thaya Kavu and Koolom temple situated at the extreme south part of the island. The myth related to the temple is that there exists two deities Chuzhali Bhagavthi and Someswari Devi. So far there is no theyyam cult for Someswari and it is realized by another deity called ‘Karimchamundi, Varaharoopam’ and it has got a separate place in the temple. Another shrine Thaya Kavu is situated about 500 meter south of Koolom. The main deity of Thaya Kavu is Thaiparadevatha (Chuzhali Bhagavathi), a prototype of Madayikavu Bhagavathi. Both the temple festival occurs at the same time. Other theyyam of koolom includes Erinhikkaeel Bhagavathi, Kalikka Theyyam, Kalaka Theyyam, Kattile Theyyam, Cherukkan Kriyathan, Karimchamundi, Vettakorumakan, Devakkooth, Bindhoor Bhootham. The festival is celebrated during the interval of two years.
It is the only theyyam in North Kerala performed by a lady. Presently it is performed by Smt. Laxmi Amma from Madayi and she has already retired due to her old age after the 2010 performance. It is the right of the Vadakkan Kooran family to decide her successor. One who perform the theyyam has to follow certain customs as per the tradition. She has to under go forty one days fasting, dieting, observe vegetarianism and undergoing a kind of solitary life without mingling with local people. The people adores the deity with great expectations and believes that Goddess bless the people with prosperity, happiness, wealth and health, and eradicate fatal diseases from the locality. The performance usually witnessed by people from different walks of life like media, photographers, research scholars, anthropologists, and also the huge presence of foreign nationals give a devotional ambience to the program.
The function starts with an attractive ceremony in which the lady is carried by a wooden boat from Ayiram Thengu Valluvan Kadavu to Thekkumbad Kadavu before two days of theyyam performance. She is then brought toward to the shrine with a colourful procession. It is called ‘Thalapoli’ in which the local people carry the different items like metal plates, divine books, special clothes, palm umbrella, oil lamp etc. For two days she will be staying in a temporary shed constructed near the shrine called “Koochil”, made by coconut leaves. There will not be any contact with outsiders. On the theyyam day only her close relatives like her husband or son will do the make up works. The make is comparitevely simple with a face painting, a colourful head dress, breast plates, arm ornaments, bangles, garlands and cotton garments . The overall make up gives a ferocious image of a Goddess and she became a real embodiment of God, a person completely metamorphoses in to a Goddess which describes the ancient myth and legends. After the make up the drum start to beat outside her shed and all are eagely waiting outside to receive the theyyam. Slowly she will come out with a curtain and move towards the temple precincts. The simple dance along with footsteps will starts along the with melodious songs of the theyyam artists which describes the myths and legends of the particular deity. After a few minutes another deity appears and he is ‘Naradan’ and both of them dance alom with the drummers.
The plot of the story is a pretty girl along with her maids come down from heaven to collect rare flowers from the small island. It was described that Thekkumbad island was enriched with rare wild flowers which was a great attraction for celestial nymphs. Suddenly the girl became isolated and she entangled inside the forest. Others searched her a lot but in vein they left the place. Unable to move she became worried and prayed for the help of Naradan. He appeared and helped the girl and moved to the area of Thayakavu. Further they reached Koolom area and she had put up in a temporary shed with coconut leaves for changing the dress. Llater on both of them crossed the Thekkumbad river in a wooden trough and reached Ayiram Thengu Valluvan Kadavu to move to heaven.
Kadangode Makkam (see April 15-16 Medam 2-3 in Theyyam calendar) belongs to ‘Kadangode’ family and was the only girl child of the thirteen children of ‘Unnichery’ couple. She had been blessed with love and care from the whole family. They educated her properly and married by one of her relative ‘Kutinumber’. They had two children ‘Chandu and Cheeru’. There arose a problem with two provinces ‘Neriyatu Swaroopam’ and ‘Kolathiri’. All the bothers were arrayed for ‘Kolathiri’ and went to the war field. Makkam was against the war because she was aware of the catastrophe going to happen to her brothers. But when they left the home, the ‘Kandangode’ family witnessed certain tragedy. Actually the wives of the brothers become jealous of Makkam being lavished with much love and care by their husbands.They were waiting for a chance to deceive her. They made a false story against her with a ‘Vaniya’ youth, when he came to the house with an offering to the almighty there. The brothers came back with a great victory but after hearing the story from their wives they became desperate. The furious brothers were decided to kill her. So they pretended to go for a holy trip along with ‘Makkam’ and her children. She was told about to see the magic divine lamp in a well which is quite a long distance away. But she could fore-see the fate going to happen. They walked a long distance and her children were tired and asked for water. She visited a house ‘Chala Puthiya Veetil’ and a lady gave enough milk for her children. Makkam removed her ornaments and entrusted them with members of the family who were good enough to give milk to her children and told them she would take it back on her return trip.Again they started their journey and covered long distance. The children felt thirsty and the brothers shown a well to “Makkam’ and told her that she can be seen the magic lamp inside. When she looked in to the well they beheaded her and later on both the children and dumped everything in the well. Immediately arose certain conflict among the brothers and they started to fight each other. All of them were mutually stabbed and died on the spot. The ‘Kadangode’ house caught fire and spoiled except certain devine spots. The wives of the brothers were also died due to fire and insanity. Certain miracles had happened in the house of those who gave milk to the children of the ‘Makkam’. That resulted in the creation of ‘Kadangode Makkam’ theyyam. Kadangode Makkam.
Kathivanur Veeran (see Nov5, Thulam 19 Theyyam calendar) is one of the significant hero Theyyam of Kolathnad. The origin of this theyyam is traced to the village, Kathivanur of Coorg. Therefore, the deity is also known by the name of his village. Another name of this deity is Mangat Mandappan.
The story of Kathivanur Veeran is a tragic one. He was born in Mangat Parakai Illam, a place in Kannur district, near Thaliparamba, as the only son of Methalai Illathu Kumarachan and Parakka Illathu Chakkiamma. It was believed that he was born with the grace of Chuzhali Bhagavathi. As per the traditional custom of the village he was well excelled in Kalari, a traditional marital art. During childhood he used to go for hunting with a bow and arrow. As he used to spend his childhood with his friend, he hesitated to do the work for living. His father was very much desperate by seeing the habit of him. One day he advised him to do certain job but he summarily rejected it. His mother was also in deep sorrow by seeing the quarrel between father and son. One day Kumarachan warned Chakki not to provide the food to him if he is not doing any job. But she fed her hungry son and it led his ouster from his house. He left the home and decided a long journey to Coorg district with his friend. But the friends were not willing to take him because they feared his parents. They gave him too much toddy (alcohol) and meat and made him to asleep for hours. Any way he decided to start his journey alone.
Kathivanur is a place near Coorg, a border place between Kerala and Karnataka State, there Mandappan had an uncle and he took shelter in his home. He started to do certain work and he owned certain plot from his uncle. Later he met a lady, Chemmarathi, from a place called Velarkot and decided to marry her and settled there. They led an ideal life of a happy couple. But gradually his wife became suspicious in his movements. Once she even abused him for his long absence from home. He consoled her swearing that he was not unfaithful to her. However bad days were in store for them. Their village was invaded by brigands from Mutharmuti. As a man trained in weapon, he could not sit quiet in the house. He resisted the invaders with an iron rod and finally defeated them. Unfortunately his finger with its golden ring was lost in the struggle. He considered it shameful for a hero like him, and returned to the field in search of his ring. Suddenly enemies fell upon him and cut him to pieces with swords.
When Chemmarathi knew the news of the tragic murder of her beloved, she rushed to the battle field. As an embodiment of bravery she fought the enemies and defeated them. Finally she collected the fragments of her husband’s body and arranged a funeral pyre and leaped in to the pyre and burnt herself into ashes. The spirit of Mandappan was worshipped in a shrine and later it was well known as Kativanur Veeran.
Kshethrapalan and Vairajathan ( see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) were born to ‘Lord Shiva’ and ‘Devi Kalarathri’. Both the child were entrusted as great warrior to save the entire dynasty. Kshethrapalan came to ‘Nediyiruppu dynasty’ and become the warrior of Zamorin there. Zamorin’s daughter and husband want to occupy ‘Alladam’ province for their living. The three warriors; Kshethrapalan, Vairijathan and Vettaikorumakan decided to conquer the place and reached ‘Payyanur Subramanya Swami Temple’ for a deep holy breath. They killed all the wicked lords of ‘Alladam’ and captured the province and he became a renowed man there.
Kundorachamundi, (see Oct 28-30 Thulam 11, 13 in Theyyam calendar) is another incarnation of ‘Kalideivam’. After killing “Asuran” (Asuravadham) ‘Kali’ reached the Kaveri River for a dip to clean and purify the body. Meanwhile she has made certain disturbances to the two “Thantris”, they were also taking a bath as a part of their holy dip. They realized the mischievous act of Kali and decided to trap her. After certain spiritual rituals they invoke the Kali within a copper vessel. There also she continued her miracles and put them in trouble. Finally Thanthris took the vessel and started a long journey. Continuous journey felt tired so that they took rest under a huge tree by keeping the copper vessel near the tree. Suddenly Kali broken the vessel and came out. The furious Kali had eaten Thantri’s one hundred one cows in one night from the cow shed. The frightened Thanthri realized the power of Kali and prayed to get back all his animals by taking a pledge to offer certain areas to Kali near “Kundarappan Deivam”. The prayer has materialized and Kali got a place in “Kundara” so the name “Kundarachamundi”. After a short period Chamundi left the place and settled in “Thulunadu” (north to Kasaragod). Again she came back to “Malanadu” (north Malabar) with two transformations; “Nattuparadevatha” for the community worship and “Veettuparadevatha” for home worship.
Kuttichathan’s mythological story is very impressive and a hyperbole. The ‘Lord Shiva’ and his wife ‘Devi Parvathi’ were staying in a remote hill area along with ‘Valluvar’ communities. There the ‘Lord’ had two children with ‘Valluvathi, ie; “Karuval’ and ‘Kuttichathan’. Kuttichathan was born in a peculiar manner with flower on his forehead, a third divine eye and a black body with long white stripes. There lived a ‘Kalakadu Namboothiri’, his wife did not conceive a child. As a result of his continuous prayer and meditation for a child the ‘Lord’ Shiva decided to donate second child of ‘Valluvathi’ to him. The child had his early education and was showing certain mischievous acts during his childhood. He even beheaded the cows and drank its blood to quench his thirst. They felt his actions were beyond their endurance and killed him. But even after his death they could hear the sound of him reverberating inside their ‘Illam’ (house). To get rid of his disturbances they conducted certain kind fire poojas by creating the fire pit. But from this fire pit they could see the real ‘Kuttichathans’ were emerging. It was ‘Chala Perumalayan’ allotted the land for the construction of ‘Shrine’ for ‘Kuttichathan’ and they started to perform the theyyam for Kuttichathan.
Muchilot Bhagavathi is one of the gorgeous theyyam and mostly worshiped and performed in ‘Muchilot Kavu’ which is founded by ‘Vaniya’ community. The myth behind the deity is that, a pretty brahmin girl was born in a rural area called ‘Perinjallur’. As she was talking about desire and love, the community ostracized her and expel from their group. Being isolated she wandered a lot and reached ‘Karivellur Shiv Temple’ and finally ‘Dhayaramangalathu Temple’. So desperate she herself decided to commit suicide after the prayer in the temple by jumping in to the fire ember. To do that she has made certain arrangements and asked oil from a ‘Vaniya’ youth, he was on his way to the temple for giving the oil as offering. As she requested he poured all the oil in to the fire and she jumped in to the fire and died. When the boy reached his home he could see the empty bottle filled with full of oil , more over when he looked in to the well in his house he had seen the face of the same girl reflecting as a ‘Goddess’. Since these miracles were happened in the ‘Muchilot Vaniyans’ province they gave the name for the Goddess as “Muchilot Bhagavathi. One of the beautiful theyyam in North Malabar. There are lot of Muchilot Kavus are present in the region and performs other theyyam also along with Muchilot Bhagavthi.
Muthalatheyyam, (see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) Theyyam will not perform dance on its feet but crawl on the floor from starting to end by encircling the rice and coconut kept in a ‘Muram’ ( a broad vase made from mat). Initially there will be a ‘thotam’ with ‘Ilathalam’. Theyyam bless the people to get away from poisonous reptiles and snakes. The history is that a crocodile helped a Brahmin to cross the river to do the rituals in a temple at the right time.
Muthappan theyyam is one of the famous deity in Kannur District and is believed to be the theyyam of Kerala and the deity of common man, because devotees from all over the state are visiting one of the famous temple, Parassini Madappura in Kannur, considered as the permanent abode of the deity. People of Keral and especially Malabaris are woshipping the deity and occasionally most of the houses perform the Muthappan Vellatam in their houses as offering.
The mythological background of the deity is very impressive. There lived a family ‘Ayyankaran and Padikutti Amma’ , they were very much desperate for not having a child. One day she had been taking bath in ‘Thiruvanchira’ (a holy pond) she could hear a cry of an infant inside the forest. She took the baby and went to the Illam and the couples were very much rejoiced for getting an infant boy child. They nurtured the child as if their own. But whenever he became aged he started to behave in a manner which was not at all permitted in the in the illam. He started to eat the meat and fish and drank the toddy from the palm tree which were dead against the illam traditiion. He continued the habit in spite of their repeated warning and advices, and the family decided to expel from the illam. They also cursed him resulted his loss of vision. He departed the illam with a long knife and a hunting dog. He climbed one of the palm tree for drinking the toddy which was owned by a farmer called ‘Chandan’. ‘Chandan’ threatened him and warned to shoot him down with his arrow. But the boy sharply gazed at him and due to his divine power ‘Chandan’ transformed in to a rocky statue. Chandan’s wife stunned to see her husband as a statue, she promised certain offerings to the boy and she called him as “Muthappaaa” so the name. As a result ‘Chandan’ regained his life. The boy started his journey and reached Puralimala as “Puralimala Muthappan” and later came to Parassini as “Parassini Muthappan”.
Moovalamkuzhichamundi, (see Dec24 Dhanu 9 in Theyyam calendar) is one of the famous and gorgeously attired Theyyam Goddess of North Kerala. The myth behind the theyyam is very impressive. There lived two ‘Thanthris’; ‘Elayapurath Thanthri’ and ‘Edamana Thanthri’. They owned a shrine called ‘Thrikannat Temple” and they performe rituals there in an alternate months. Gradually there created rivalry between them and as a result of duel fight they started sending evil spirits. It is one of the ‘Thrikanyavu’ deity, the Edamana Tantri captured and invoked in a copper vessel as he thought that it was the creation of Elayapurath Tantri and ordered his servants to bury it in a pit. Miracles started there and before the servants reached their home they heard a thunder sound and appeared a sharp glittering sword. It split the earth and created a giant pit which has a depth of around ‘three man’ (“moovalam kuzhi”). From the pit again three more swords originated along with the Thrikanyavu Godess. She made lot of trouble to ‘Edamana Thanthri’ and his family. So they approached the “Lord Ayyappa” and “Thrikanyalappan” for relief. But the two were vey much impressed by the devine activities of Devine Godesses”‘ and decide to accept her as “Godess” ( Chamundi) by alloting a place ( Sthanam) for her. Now people in North Malabar worship the Goddess and it is one of the enthralling show with big circular and colourful head dress and it put great reverence in the heart of devotees.
Palanthai Kannan (see Nov5, Thulam 19 Theyyam calendar) Theyyam is related to the deity of Vishnumoorthi. Kannan a Thiyya youth was a domestic servant of a local landlord, Kuruvat Kurup. One day while he was eating a mango from the mango tree its nut fell over a passing women who belonged to the Kuruvat family. Being scared of the incident occured he decided to escape from the place and went to Mangalore. There he met a poor Brahmin family belonged to Koyilkudipadi Tharavadu and decided to stay there. He was a helping hand to the family and was working as a cow boy. He used to graze the cows and sold the milk to the market and earned money. The word ‘Palanthai’ originated from the word ‘Milk’ he got it from there. The old women was a devotee of ‘Lord Vishnu’. One he dreamt the God Vishnu and Lord adviced him to return to his home place. So he decided to leave there and the women gifted a long sword for his self defence. He sharpened his sword and reached his childhood friend Kadanathadan Kannan, who was also a servant of Kuruvat family. The Kadathanadan family offered food from there and before taking the it he decided to take a bath and moved to a nearby pond by placing his sword on the bank. By knowing the arrival of Kannan, Kurup rushed there and took the sword and beheaded him and threw his body and the sword in to the pond. Miracles had happened over the pond, the sword was jumping over the water surface. Kurup family also witnessed lot of inauspicious signs like death of all the domestic animals, natural calamities and loss of properties. Finally he called an astrologer and according to his opinion he decided to construct a shrine for Palanthai Kannan. It is believed that Kuruvat, fearing the evil spirit of Kannan, gave up his vanity of the landlord and himself carried the stones and wood planks for the construction of the shrine.
Palotu Deivam, (see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) is an imaginary God of ‘Lord Vishnu’. The word ‘Palotu Deivam’ derived from ‘Palazhikottu Deivam’ (related to Holy River Ganga). The ‘Lord Vishnu’ usually lies on the ‘Serpent Anantha’ in ‘Palazhi’. One day with the knowledge of ‘Lord Shiva’ his golden crown floated through the river Ganga resulted the heavy waves in the river. It was an intention to land in a place called “Ezhumudi Mannan” Nagar. Unfortunately it bifurcated its course of movement and reached a sea shore in North Malabar called ‘Azheekal”, a place near Kannur Town. By the time two persons from ‘Azheekal’ went for fishing with their fishing net. They have seen that one golden crown was entangled in their net. They reached the palace of ‘Kolathiri’ and gave the crown to one of the courtier. Everybody in the palace were astonished by seeing the golden crown and saluted it by folding their palms. After certain astrological calculations they found out that it was a divine crown and it should have to be worshipped by the name “Palazhikodu Deivam’. The ‘Kolathiri’ agreed to give sufficient land (Sthana) for the construction of the shrine. After the completion of the shrine they conducted seven days rituals and all felt the divine spirit of Supreme Soul of “Lord Mahavishnu”. Then the “Palottu Deivam” proceeded in a solemn way to Andalur Kavu, Kappattu Kavu, Keecheri Kavu, Mavila Kavu, Macheri Kavu, Athiyadathu Kavu and Kunhimangalath Malliyottu Kavu. All these Kavu is performing the theyyam from Madam 1 to 7. (April 14-21)
Poomaruthan Theyyam is usually performed in “Poomala Bhagavathi Temples”. Actually there is no theyyam performance for Poomala Bhagavathi, though she is the heroine in the myth, instead Poomaruthan Theyyam is performing in all the Poomala Bhagavathi Temples. People of North Malabar worship her and celebrate a festival called “Pooram Mahotsavam”. Usually Pooram festival celebrates for seven days but in certain areas it extends up to nine days. ‘Pooramkuli’ (holy dip in the water) and Poorakkali (a marital art dance of men) are the two common programs associated with Pooram Festival. As a tradition people do certain types of rituals in their home by making the model of ‘Kaman’. Usually it is made up of wet cow dung and studded with particular kind of flower all over the body of the moulded idol and lot of flowers are spreading around the idol as a flower carpet. The number of ‘Kaman’ varies from day to day. On the last day (Pooram day) during the evening after having certain ceremonial rituals all these idols were removed from the courtyard and dump it away. “Pooram Kuli” in Madayi Kavu (Near Payangadi) is famous for North Malabaris. In Kasaragod district during ‘Pooram’ days ‘Poorakkali’ (a martial group dance of gents) is popular.
The myth behind the deity is that, there lived a King ‘Arya’ who had a pretty daughter (Poomala). She was keen in adventurous journeys. One day she approached the king and expressed her interest in a river journey by using a wooden trough. But the king neither granted the permission nor spare the wooden trough to her. Deeply desperate she approached certain demon lords and cried one of their help to fulfill her wish. So one of them agreed to help her and he himself disguised as a wind and hid inside a flower (flower means poovu and wind means maruthan) . During the occasion of Pooram festival the girl was observing fasting and went for collecting the flower. It was described that the demon who hid inside the flower was one of the incarnation of ‘Lord Shiva’. As soon as she plucked the flower she became fainted and fell down . The king became worried and brought an astrologer and after the astrological calculations they found that the Godess ‘Poomala Bhagavathi” requires a wooden trough for a long journey. Finally King agreed and arranged it. So “Poomala” along with “Poomaruthan’ started to cross number of rivers and reached “Ezhimala” (near Payyanur). From there they went to ‘Maniyara’, Thalenari, Ramavilyam’ and finally settled in ‘Ramanthali Kuruvanthatta Ara’. These locations have important shrines for the Poomaruthan Theyyam and most of the temples conduct the theyyam performance yearly.
Pottan Theyyam (see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) is created to uphold the social harmony among the people and to eradicate the social evils prevailed in the society like castism, exploitation of lower class people and the deprived. The background story is that ‘Lord Shiva’ blessed an impotent Brahmin lady by giving a son, whose name was ‘Sankaran”. Being dexterous in Theology he wants to occupy the foremost chair in this art. ‘Lord Shiva’ decided to test his social ethics by disguised as a ‘Chandalan’; a low caste man.’Devi Parvathi’ and ‘Nandikaesan’ were also accompanied him. With a bottle of alcohol and by reciting the local songs he walked through the way in which ‘Sankaran’ was coming. By seeing a low caste man on his way he uttered him to move out of the way. By flatly refusing his order he raised the voice for the socially deprived and it lead to a quarrel among them. The outspoken ‘Chandalan’ explained the need for protecting all kind of people in spite of his social background. ‘Sankaran’ prayed for a minute and ‘Lord Shiva’ appeared in his original image and blessed ‘Sankaran’ and bid farewell to his journey.
In order to remember the disguised appearance of ‘Lord Shiva”, he created an embodiment image for the same as “Pottan Theyyam”. ‘Devi Parvathi’ and ‘Nadikesan’ also had divine images as ‘Pulachamundi’ and ‘Pulamaruthan’. The three divine images came to Malanadu (North Malabar) and settled in ‘Kanat’ and ‘Thaikkara’. The main Sthanas of these three kolams are ‘Kayyathu Kottam’,'Moyyathu Kottam’, ‘Kavumbai Kottam’, ‘Paranki Kottam’, ‘Patteni Kottam’, ‘Manathara Kavu’, ‘Mangathu Kottam’,and ‘Muzhangathu Kottam’.
PThe myth describes that the Theyyam Puthiya Bhagavathi originated from the Holy Fire (Homakundam). The lord Mahadeva was a happy living in heaven with his two daughters (Chirumbamar). They were born from the third divine eye of ‘Lord Mahadeva’. Suddenly fatal disease spread out there and most of the members were fell in ill including ‘Lord Mahadeva’. He decided to send his daughters to the earth and ordered his courtiers to conduct a kind of ritual called “Homam” (sacrificial fire) to eradicate the all evils. The “Patteri’s” were doing the rituals. It is believed that the ‘Godess’ Bhagavathi emerged from the fire ember and everyone narrated the situation prevailing there and the condition of the people and the purpose of eradicating the diseases. They offered fresh hen’s blood to Bhagavthi to quench her thirst and as a miracle all evils and the chronic diseases disappeared from the destiny. It was described that further she came to earth in Kolathnad (North Malabar) and blessed the people her for a healthy peaceful life. To commemorate the divine power of the deity the then Chieftain of Kalathnadu ‘Chirakkal Raja’ ordered to perform ‘Kolam’ and ‘Thira’ (Theyyam Performance) of Bhagavthi and now a days most of the shrine in North Malabar perform this theyyam as different prototypes.
Thaiparadevatha, The Bhagavathi, Kali, Chamundi etc. are cosidered the “Mother God” according to the concept of the theyyam performers. It is believed that at least one “Mother God” is existing in each rural area. One among them is “Thaiparadevatha”. This theyyam is even worshiped by ‘Kolathiri Samoothiris (Chieftain of old Kolathunad)’, who had given basic support and encouragement for the theyyam performances.in his dynasty. Thaiparadevatha is one among the six Theyyam created from the “Devine Eye” (Third Eye) of Lord Siva and people adore it as one of the most powerful deity. It is also called “Kalaswaroopathingal Thayi”, ‘Thayi’, ‘Thiruvarkkat Bhagavathi’, or ‘Madayikkavil Achi’. During the Samoothiri’s regime he has given a divine place for Thayi at ‘Thiruvarkat Kavu (Presently Madaikavu; near Payangadi)’. Thai is considered as a powerful theyyam who had eradicated fatal diseases from the community. ‘Lord Siva’ created this Kalideivam to kill ‘Darikan’. Thayi fought with Darikan continuously for seven days and on eighth day she killed him on the tongue of ‘Vethala’ with his strong finger and drank blood.
Thekkan Kariyathan, Thekkan Kariyathan Theyyam is performed along with another theyyam called Kaikolan theyyam and it act as a servant of the main deity. The make up of the Kaikolan theyyam is simple, the body is painted white with native colours and yellow is used for face decoration. A small headdress or ‘Muti’ is called ‘Kozhupattam’.
The history of the theyyam is very impressive. The Pata Nair or warrior of Palar Veedu and Kolendra Nair of Palakunnath went for hunting in a distant hill. For the mid-day meal they approached ‘Karimkulakkal’ house and asked the house owner, a lady for food. She served milk and plantains and prepared food for them. Then they went for a bath in a nearby pond. They have seen a fish swimming in the pond and tried to catch it. But their effort was in vain and came back to lady’s house. Whenever they reached the lady’s house they were surprised by seeing the same fish in the house’s well. The lady caught the fish and cut it in to three pieces and cooked it. But the pieces of fish showed certain divine power and jumped from the vessel and fell inside the room. The story describes both the pieces of fishes transformed in to two deities called Thekkan Kariyathan and Kannikorumakan.
One day both of them were sitting on a river bank, they could see a lady was collecting toddy from a palm tree, and she carries a hen and other materials as offerings to the nearby temple. Both of them approached the lady and demanded a certain portion of the offerings. Initially she refused to give it but after seeing the divine magical power of the two deities, she offered a small part. A small boy was watching all these and he decided to join them as their servant. These three heroes were worshiped as Thekkan Kariyathan , Kannikorumakan and Kaikkolan.
Urpazhassi (see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) theyyam is an embodiment image of ‘Lord Vishnu’. The mythology is that, the impotent “Melarilam Kanyavu’ got the divine blessing from ‘Lord Vishnu’ and she delivered a child ‘Dayarappan’. From the early age itself he had shown certain divine miracles. When he was of age he became a strong warrior and punished all wicked. As a brave warrior he met his friend ‘ Vettaikorumakan’ at ‘Balusseri fort’. He further moved to ‘Urpazhassi Kavu’ and stayed there for a long time. So he got the name.
Vettaikorumakan (see Oct27, Thulam 10 Theyyam calendar) theyyam depicts the power of ‘Lord Shiva’. Disguised as tribal hunters both ‘Shiva’ and ‘Parvathi’ went to the forest to bless the deeply meditating ‘Arjuna’. ‘Parvathi’ delivered a male child there named ‘Vettaikorumakan’. His activities were a nightmare even for the ‘Lords’ in heaven. Due to his unbearable mischevious activities ‘Lord Shiva’ decided to send him to earth. He reached ‘Balusseri’ and got married. As he had shown his valour and courage to capture the ‘Balusseri fort’, the ‘Balusseri’ king alloted certain plot inside the fort. He settled there and made friendship with ‘Kshethrapalan’ and became famous there.