Theyyam is a temple art form practiced in the northern part of Kerala. There is an opinion that Theyyam is the Dravidian ancient art which has not yet bend to the Aryanism. It is known as Kaliyaattam towards North of Pazhayangadippuzha, as Theyyam from Pazhayangadippuzha to Valapattanam and as Thirayattam to the south of Valapattanam.

Theyyam is presented as goddess’s dance. Its dance is called Theyyattam and the attire is called Theyyakkolam. It consists of different practices of; chanting of manthras, gestures, actions, penance etceteras. Although the god and goddess of Theyyam are Shiv and his angels, there are also Theyyam of Kaali, Chaamundi, Gandharva, Yakshi, Naga and heroes of the land. It is also a combination of tree worship, mother goddess worsip, evil worship and shiv-vishnu worship.


Dr. Herman Guntart said that the word Theyyam has its root in the word Daivam(God). Theyy’s aattam(dance) is Theyyaattam. It could be Theyya dance or Fire Dance(Theeyaattom) says Chelanaatt Achyuthamenon. In Tamil, Daivam is pronounced Thaivam. Theyyam is the original art form of northern Malabar. Kasargod, Kannur districts are famous for this art form. It is the dance performed by the down trodden community to please their gods. The word Theyyam is the colloquial form of Daivam. It is believed that each sect has their own theyya Koolam. The beautiful face make up, clothing made of tender
coconut leaves and flowers, Chenda, Chengila, Ilaththalam, Karum Kuzhal, Thakil likewise instruments and systematic footages gives artificial enjoyment along with spiritual faith.

Epical Story

Each Theyyam has an epical story to tell. There are also different stories based on the culture and custom of the places where it is presented. From the time of Aadi Shankaracharyar, efforts to prove that Theyyam is a part of the Brahmin culture was on. ഐതിഹ്യം Also there were efforts to prove that there was only one history behind the Theyyam which is a Brahmin in origin. The temples in Payyannoor and Perimchelloor(Thaliparambu) where the Brahmin
population is high, Theyyam received favourable ground to grow and spread.

Places where Theyyam is perfomed

Kaavu, Kottam, Thaanum(Holy Palce), Ara, Palliara, Mundya, Kazhakam are the main places where Theyyam is performed. Initial places might have been the shades of certain trees viz. Paala, Champakam Aal, Elanji which are still the favourable places for Theyyam.The Kaavu would have evolved from worshipping of the trees. There may be stone floors in the kaavu which are the abode of goddesses. But, in some places there are also shreekoils. Some kaavu have been formed up as Temples in latter years.


Participants are from the Vannaan, Malayan, Anjooraan, Velan, Mavilan and Koppalar aka Pulayan tribes.

Clothing and decoration

Face decoration, Body decoration, other decorations are used to categorize the Theyyam participants. Rice flour mix, burnt turmeric, turmeric powder are used as colouring agents. Coconut oil and fresh water are used to mix the colours.

The make up men are called Ezhuthaalar. Thalappali and Chennimalar on the face vala, kadakam, choodakam etc. on hands, chilampu, manikkayalu, pattumpadakam on legs are mandatory. There are also Theyyam with false faces using Beetel nut tree leaves and false eyes, and having false beards. Some Theyyam fit fir torches to their clothing. The method of presentation is based on local custom. There fore each Theyyam is unique.


Crown(mudi) is the main part of Theyyam. The crown is like that of gods. It may be decorated with tender coconut leaves or with colourful cloths. The procession of putting on the crown is called ‘mudiyettuka’.

Theyyam Koodal

One day prior to the procession, percussionists reach the place where Theyyam is about to dance. Before dusk the the begin the percussion. This procession is called ‘Theyyam koodal’. By the dusk ‘uchchathottam’ begins. Then there will be ‘vellattom’. After this there is ‘kodiyilathottam’. This is the part where the ‘Kolakkaran’ accepts the ‘naakkila’ with the rice and flame. ‘Anthithottam’ after the dusk. To inform about the celebration a flag will be hoisted in red,white and black. Kaavu will be cleansed and cow dung will be applied. When a lamp is lit and kept at the stage, the background
become lively.

Make up

There are ‘aniara’ (make up room) for the Theyyam. Where there are no permanent rooms, they will erect a tent under a tree. Facial decoration and dressing up are in this make up room. Those Theyyam with small crowns will come out from the make up rooms, fully ready, but those with large crowns will wear their crown infront of the ‘palliara’. The big crowned Theyyam will bend infront of the ‘Palliyara’and accept Nakkila with rice and flame and will turn towards the North, will keep the ‘Nakkila’ and begin to sing ‘Varaviliththottam’. The remaining decorations will be put on after
this. Also, the crown will be worn. At the last the Theyyam will do the Mukuradarshanam, in which the Kolakkaraan will see him as a goddess in a morror. It inculcates a feeling in the Kolakkaran that he has been turned to be a goddess. The priest will throw rice on to the Kolakkaran. With this the Kolakkaran will begin to dance as the Theyyam. Some times a Kuruthi Tharpanam (sacrifice) is done at this moment. After this the Theyyam will look for omen using betel leaf, Betel nut, coconut etc will be thrown and he will watch the course of it for omen(sakunam), Some Theyyams will use masks and some will use ‘kalasam’ (earthen pots filled with liquor). Kalasam will be arranged one on another and this should be brought by a person belonging to the Theeya tribe. He is called ‘Kalasakkaran’ which is a name by position. The Theyyams have a method of ‘Munpu parayuka’ which is a poem recited which contains the history of each god or goddess, their works, their life etc. Some Theyyams have ‘Kulasthanam’ and ‘Keezhacharam’. In some places ‘keezhacharam’ is also called ‘Swaroopavichaaram’. Swaroopa vicharam is important for ‘Vairarajan’ and ‘Kshethrapaalan’,

Goddesses in Teyyam

Theyyam was begun with an intention to please the natural phenomenon which were worshipped as goddesses and gods. Worship to the dead ones, Worship to mother, worship to the heroes are the common Theyyams. Also the revengeful reaction of the lower cast towards the upper cast who suppress them also could be seen in Theyyams. The Vishnu aaraadhan and shiv aaradhana seen in some places are due to the Brahmins trying to over power the Theyyam. In connection with the mother worship, the durga worship is also due to Brahmin intervention.



‘Mudiyettu’ is a temple art of Kerala. It is performed by the sect’ Kurup’ and ‘Marar’. The story depicted is of ‘Darika Vadham’. 12 to 20 participants are required to present it. ‘Kalamezhuthu’, ‘Thalappoli’, Prathishtapooja’, ‘Kalam Maykal’ etc.. are the main procedures of ‘Mudiyettu’. ‘Arangukeli’, ‘exodus of Darikan and Kali’, the war between Darikan and Kali are the contents of the story. In the year 2010 this art form was included into the list of ancient art forms.


Shiv, Narad, Kali, King of Rakshasa, Danavendran, Kooli, Koimbidar are the characters. They keep their steps and act according to a song which tells the story of war between Darika and Kali. Inside the decorated pandal Kali draws the kalam with five colours. After the kalam, kalam pattu, thalappoli and thiriyuzhichil the kalam will be erased. Mudiyettu begins after this with Narad informing Shiv about the hardships of mankind by Darika and Darnvendra. Following this Darikan enters and then Kali and Kooli. The presents Kali’s kaliyilakal, Kali shamippikkal, competition between Koimbidar and percussionists, comedy of kool, beheading of Darika by Kali. These are the main episodes of this folktale.


Chenda and ilaththalam are the main instruments. Nilavilakku, theevetti and pantham are used for lighting. It has some similarity with Chakyar koothu and Kathakali. Travancore and Kochi are the main centers.
Actors colour their face and have crowns and special attire. Kali’s face is decorated with a mixure of lime and rice flour. Kali has a large crown made of wood or metal called Mudi. The name Mudiyettu might have thus evolved.



Thira is a ritualistic art form found in South Malabar region of Kerala. This art form is performed in the temples during festival seasons of the places situated in both sides of Bharathapuzha. Thira is performed in temples of the old ‘Walluvanadan places, and the Northern parts of Thrissur. The performers are traditionally from caste of Mannan and the performer would always be male. Poothan and Thira together visits the houses of the village which is called thatakkam, during the festival seasons and bless the people of the Thattakam. It is followed as a ritual in these places. The poet Edassery has written one poem based on these rituals in his poem “Puthapattu”



Panchavadyam is Classical temple art form literally means orchestra of five instruments. It is the combination of Idakka, ilathalam. Thimila, shanku, and Maddalam. Panchavadyam is still largely a temple art but it has come out of its precincts to be seen performed during non –religious occasions like cultural Pageantry and which is basically a temple art form. The Panchavayam what is familiar now is slightly different from the originated ones. It has Thimila, Maddhalam, Kompu idakka, ilathalam, Kuzhal and shanku. Shanku will be blown only in the starting and end of the vadhyam.


It is still unknown about the origin of this art. It is only a presumption about this art when it got formed still no body could not find out the exact truth. Basically it a temple art form. The present form was formed by Thiruvilwamala Venkichan Swamy, Annamanada Peethambara Marar, Annamanada Achuthamarar, Annamanada Parameshwara Marar, Pattarathu Sankara marar. They played an Important role in creating a strong foundation and choosing the right instruments and concepts with an intelligent mixture of composed and improvised parts for panchavadyam.

Panchvadyam melam (harmony)

Usually the Panchavadyam troupe consist of 40 artists. It is divided as 11 Thimila players, 5 maddalam players, 2 Idakka players , 11 kombu players , and 11 elathalam players. All these players has their fixed positions. It is anchored and led by the timila artist at the centre of his band of instrumentalists , behind whom stand the ilathalam players. The Maddalam players stand opposite to them in a row and behind them stands the kompu players. The two idakka players stand on both sides of the aisle separating the timila and Maddalam line up. For Shanku the position is behind the Idakka players. The panchavadyam starts with the blowing sound of shanku.
Usually panchavadyam is performed in the temple festivals. This art is more familiar in Mid Kerala. The famous form will be conducted in Thrissur Pooram. In pooram this is known as Madathil varavu Panchavadyam. It is conducted by the famous Thiruvambadi Temple troupe



Mohiniattom is the traditional dance form of Kerala. This is a feminine dance form based on the graceful movement of body. Mohiniattom features Grace and Beauty ( Lasya and Sringara). Among the four types of bodily movements as described in Natyasasthra Kaisiki is adopted in Mohiniattom.It is considered as most suited for expressing the Sringara Beauty). Most of the compositions in Mohiniattom are based on Sringara too.

Mohiniattom is a dance from reinvented from the temple dance form of Dasiattom. There are many dance maestros who contributed for reviving and popularizing this dance form.Kunjukutty Amma, Chinnammu Amma, Kalamandalam Kalyanikutty Amma, Bharathi Sivaji and Kanak Rele are some among them.


There are so many inferences, interpretations, and controversies about the origin of Mohiniattom. Like there were in many parts of India in Kerala too there was the practice of Devdasies and the temple dances performed by them Dasiattom or thevadisiattom later structured and reformed to Mohiniattom;this is one version about the origin of Mohiniattom. But there is no evidences in strong support of this claim. The first written mention about Mohiniattom is seen in “Vyavahara Maala” a book believed to be written in 1709 by Mazhamangalam Narayanan Namboothiri. This book mentions about dividing the prize money by the artists among themselves after a mohiniattom performance. Kunchan Nambiar who was contemporary to Mazhamangalam also mentions about this dance form in his recitals Thullalpattu.In Khoshayathra ( Procession) he mentions about all the then prevalent art forms while describing the richness and prosperity.

Hasthamudra( Gestural expressions by Hand)

Hasthamudras, the gestural expressions using hand is very important in dance formslike Bharathanayam and Mohiniattom. These mudras are equivalent to words. Each mudra has its own meaning. The mudras are taken from “Hashta lakshana Deepika” which describes about 24 mudras such as Pathaka(Flag)Mudrakhyam(.Beatiful)kadkam(bangle),Mushti(Fist), Karthareemukham( Arrow shaft/Scissors)Sukathundam( Bird’s Beak),Kapithakam( the fruit of a tree), Hamsapaksham(Wing of a Swan) Sikharam(Mountain)Hamsasyam( Head of Swan),Anjali( Folded Hand),ArdhaChandram( HalfMoon) Mukuram( Mirror)Bhramaram( Beetle),Soochikamugham(needle)Pallavam(Sprout)Tripathaka(Three parts of the flag), Mrugaseersham( Head of a Deer)Sarppasirasu( Head of a Cobra), Vardhamanakam( seedling) Arralam(Peak of a Mountain),Oornanabham(Spider),Mukulam(Bud) Kadakamukham.
Kerala Kalamandalam

Kerala kalamandalam initiative of Vallathol Narayana Menon in 1930 at Cheruthury have amajor role in reviving Mohiniattom. In Kalamandalam along with Kathakali Mohiniattom also got encouragement.Vallathol when decided to start Mohiniattom classes at Kaalamandalam was in search of a suitable person as trainer and found out Kalyanikuttiy amma who was a student under Appekkat Krishnapanikkar.Vallatthol took the initiative to revive Mohiniattom changing many sampradayas( methods) used at that time in Daasiattam. The more modest and structured dance form of Mohiniattom derived like that. Vallathol asked Kalyanikutty Amma to make the movements swift and enchanting . Another change brought in to Mohiniattom was positioning the master (Trainer) and orchestra to one side of the stage. Till that time the trainer used to move along the dancer reciting the slokaa .


Mohiniattom is the dance from which give emphasis to Lasya( Grace) so the movements are enchanting .Cholkkettu,Jathiswaram,Padam,Padvarnam, Thillana are the major types of Mohiniattom usually performed . Chollkketuu is the dance praising of God Shiva and Parvathi. Lasya (Grace) is prime in this form. The keertthanas or slokas are to be meaning fully expressed through movements and gestures of hand body, eyes, legs and head. While moving from one situation to another ( Adavu) “chari” to be done. Chari is the name for moving backward. This is also a peculiarity of Mohiniattom.

The attire for dancers in Mohinniattom also had many changes. Nine yard sari in White cotton with Jari in border is pleated and draped around. It will be fixed with Odyanam (hip chain). Blouse also will be with Jari border. Hair will be put up round ,to the left side decorating with flowers. There are traditional ornaments also use to wear in Mohiniattom. Nettichutti , thoda(Ear stud) Kasumala ( Garland with coins) Poothali( Garland in floral pattern) are the ornaments used. This dance form attracts on its swift and enchanting movements and beautiful attire.

Till certain period, the songs were of Sopana style and instruments were like thoppi maddhalam, and thithi. The traditional kerala style of music was followed in Mohiniatttom. But now Carnatic music, Mrudangam Violin etc are also being used.



Koodiyattam, an Ancient Dance Form of Kerala. Koodiyattam is the first Indian Dance Form to be recognized by the UNESCO. Since acting is given more importance than dance, it is also called the ‘Mother of Acting’. The forms of Koodiyattam prevalent now is only about 800 years old. This is also one of the most ancient Sanskrit Dramas. It requires 41 days to play a full episode of koodiyattam. This is a visual art form that unites Sansrit drama forms and ancient acting forms.

The name Koodiyattam (Dance Together) was given to this art form either because the hero and the heroin appear on the stage together or the hero and the quipster appear together.

Main Steps in Koodiyaatam

1. Arrangement of the stage
2. Tuning of the Mizhaavu (a special drum used by Chakyar)
3. Showing of Goshti (gesters)
4. Nambiar (hero) olays the Mizhavu
5. Akkitham Chollal (Intoductary song)
6. Beginning
7. Spraying the stage
8. Performance
9. Ending Song

This art form is performed at a separated space within the temple boundary called Koothambalam (Dance Temple). The stage will be decorated using Banana tree with the cluster, tender coconut leaves, filled up para(a wooden measuring cup), Ashtamangalyam (eight auspicious objects) etc.. A large lamp with multiple flames made of bronze will be kept on the stage. Only three of the flames will be lit showing presence of the three gods. Initially there will be a concert using divine instruments viz. Mizhavu, Kuzhithalam, Idakka, Kombu and Shanghu. Then enters the quipster explaining the story. Then the characters enter the stage and perform.

Koothu and Koodiyattam

Aangikam (gasters), Vaachikam (saying), Aaharam (eating) and Saathvikam (Divnity) are the four forms of dance. In koodiyattam, all these four forms of dance are mixed with percussions and musical instruments and a Sanskrit story. Koothu is another form played by a sect called Chaakyaar(male) and Nagyaar (female), respectively called Chaakyaar koothu and Nagyaar Koothu. Koodiyaattam is the union of Chakyaar and Nangyaar dancing together. There is an opinion that koodiyaattam is an advanced form of Chaakyaar Koothu.



Kathakali is a unique classical visual art form of Kerala. Excerpts from SaasthrakkaLi, Daasiyaattom, Chakyaarkooththu, Koodiyaattom, Krishnanaattom, Ashttapadiyaattom, Theyyam, Thira, Padayani could be ssen in Kathakali.


Kathakali took form in the eighth century. It is the transformed form of ‘Ramanattom’ which the Kottarakkaraththampuran (Ruling King of Kottarakkara) formed by dividing the epic ‘Ramayana’ into 8 parts of each part a day. It is believed that the Ramanattom was formed between 1555 and 1605. It was Vettaththunaattu Thampuran who has introduced the modern attire to the Kathakali and he has also begun using ‘Chenda’. He has also introduced separate singer and also added colourful crowns, black over coat and multi color face decorations. These are called ‘Vettaththunadan’(Belonging to Vettaththunaad). The traditional attire of Ethiopia has also influenced formation of make up of Kathakali. It was Sankaran Nair who was a lover of Kathakali, helped the Vettaththu King in modernization of Kathakali.


Hearing that the King of Kozhikkode, Manaveda made a dance form of eight days duration called ‘Krishnanattom’, King of Kottarakkara requested the Kozhikkode king to send in the artists so that those who are in Kottarakkara can also see Krishnanattom. But, the king of Kozhikkode refused it saying that those who are of the south have no taste for art forms. Wounded by this, the king of kottarakkara made Ramanaattom which latter on became Kathakali.

Aattakatha (Story of the Dance)

It is the literal representation of the Kathakali dance. Different from the Sanskrit drama based on the GeethaGovindam of Jaydevar, the aattakatha is full of attractive wordings and sweet music. Aattakatha is composed as a mixture of sentences and poems. The sentences are acted in the dance. The poetry is used to describe the situation.

Steps and Customs

Kelikottu (Percussion to invite)
Vandanaslokam (Greetings Poetry)
Katharambham (Begiining of the story)

Mudras(Finger positions)

Mudras are the interpretation of the story events by using finger positions. The mudras displayed in Kathakali are the mudras explained in Hasthalakshana deepika (book of positions of hands). There are total 24 mudras. Although there are mudras in different dance forms with the same name, all are different.


There are six types of attires. The cloths worn are based on the inner behavior of the characters. The colour combinations and make up differ in each one of it.

Kathakali On Stage

In olden days the Kathakali was performed in Namboothiry Illams(homes were the upper priestly caste lived) or the local ruler’s house. Latter on it was shifted to Temple premises. The stage does not require any extra facilities. Usually a shed was used. A strong stool was kept on the stage for the artist to be seated. A large bronze lamp with two flames was lit with one flame pointing to the artist and the other facing the audience. This lamp was called the ‘Aattavilakku’(Lamp for Dance). Different curtains are used to show different stages of the story.

Punnathur Kotta-Indiaz

Punnathur Kotta

Punnathur Kotta is a fort and former Palace located in Kottapadi about 2 km north of the Guruvayoor sree Krishna Temple in Thrissur District. Presently it the one of the most famous unique elephant sanctuary, maintained by the Guruvayoor Devaswam Board. There were 86 elephants house here but currently there are about 66 elephants. This sanctuary is an unique one , the only one of its kind in the world. Punnathurkotta was the ancient place of a local ruler Punnathur Rajas. But this palace grounds are now used to house the elephants belonging to the Guruvayoor temple. The elephants are ritual offerings made by the devotees of Lord Guruvayurappa. The facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as particiapate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. Even now elephants play a major role in the state’s fairs and festivals.

How to reach

Nearest Railway Station: Guruvayoor, ( 2 km from Guruvayoor temple ) walking distance from the shrine
Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport,

Kottakkal (Centre of Ayurveda)-Indiaz

Kottakkal (Centre of Ayurveda)

Kottakkal is one of the pioneering institutions of Ayurveda in Kerala. Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala is a name synonymous with Ayurved . The small town of Kottakkal in the Northern district of Malappuram in Kerala is home to Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala, the renowned center for Ayurveda in Kerala. It is the name that offers a new lease of life to the suffering humanity. It has now become the destination of ailing patients; rich and poor alike, students and scholars from India and abroad.

Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala is currently headed by Aryavaidyan P.K. Warrier. It is now more than fifty years since he took charge at the helm. And during this period Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala witnessed appreciable growth and popularity and has now become a premier center for Ayurveda in India. Dr. P.K. Warrier is also the Chief Physician and is ably assisted by other senior and experienced physicians.
Started essentially as a village clinic, it has now grown into a multi-unit and multi-disciplinary organization.

How to Reach

Nearest airport – Kozhikode, about 28 km.
Nearest railway station – Tirur, about 16 km.
By road – Kottakkal is situated at a distance of about 165 km from
Kochi; 160 km from Coimbatore and 48 km from Kozhikode.

Kappad Beach-Indiaz

Kappad Beach

Kappad finds mention in history and geography texts as the gateway to the Malabar coast. Here, 501 years ago, 170men led by the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) sailed in and stepped into Kerala to create a new chapter in history. The story of a long and tumultuous socio-political relationship between India and Europe. It was the spices and wealth of Malabar that first brought the Arabs, the Phoenicans, the Greeks, the Romans, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English to Kerala. Kappad has witnessed many such landings. Kappkadavu (Kappad) is a small coastal village in the Kozhikode district of Kerala. For the people of Kozhikode, this pleasant stretch of rock studded beach is Kappakkadavu. To the tourist it is one of the most charming of Kerala’s beaches.

How to Reach

Nearest airport – Karipur International Airport, Kozhikode about 23 km from Kozhikode town.
Private transport vehicles are available to reach destinations from Calicut Municipal Bus stand (new bus-stand).

Nearest railway station – Kozhikode, about 16 km

India Information Portal