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Kerala Sights

Theyyam

  • Arts/Performance Venue

Updated 09/26/2012

Fodor's Review

A unique regional draw is the spectacular dance called Theyyam. More than an art form, it's a type of worship that is tribal in origin and thought to predate Hinduism in Kerala. Theyyams aren't held in traditional temples, but rather in small shrines or family compounds. Dancers don elaborate costumes and terrifying makeup for the ritual dance, during which its believed they become possessed by the spirit of the deity they represent, allowing them to perform such feats

as dancing with a 30-foot headdress, a flaming costume, or falling into a pile of burning embers. The ritual is accompanied by intense drumming, howling, and chanting. Theyyam season is from November to May.

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