Theyyam – UPSC Prelims

  • Theyyam is a popular ritual form of dance worship in Kerala and Karnataka, India.
  • It consisted of thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs.
  • The people consider Theyyam itself as a channel to a god and they thus seek blessings from Theyyam.
  • Each Theyyam is a man or a woman who attained divine status by performing heroic deeds or by leading a virtuous life
  • Most Theyyams are believed to be the incarnations of Shiva or Shakti (the consort of Shiva). Or they have strong associations with these principal deities of Hinduism.
  • There are over 400 theyyams. Some of these are very important.
  • Major Types are:
    • Vishnumoorthi:
      • There are only two Vaishnava Theyyams – Daivatar and Vishnumoorthi.
      • These Theyyams are believed to be the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
      • This Theyyam narrates the story of Palanthai Kannan who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.
    • Gulikan
      • Gulikan is believed to be an incarnation of Yama, the Hindu god of death and justice.
      • According to Indian mythology, Gulikan was one of the most important warriors of Lord Shiva.
    • Kuttichathan:
      • It is the theyyam of Bhrahmin caste.
      • Kuttichathan theyyam is considered to have originated for Lord Shiva in Vishnu Maaya.
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