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Photo Essay

Lesser gods

Theyyam, a ritual dance form performed in northern Kerala and parts of southern Karnataka, has been subversively empowering for certain communities.
Pethan theyyam's mukhathezhuthu.
Pethan theyyam's mukhathezhuthu. Photo: The Hindu
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During a Mavilan theyyam, a person belonging to the same community acts as parikarmi (priest).
During a Mavilan theyyam, a person belonging to the same community acts as parikarmi (priest). Photo: The Hindu
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Molanthamma theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod.
Molanthamma theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod. Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Kalichan theyyam at a sacred grove in northern Kerala.
Kalichan theyyam at a sacred grove in northern Kerala. Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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A Nalkathaya theyyam procession in Poyinachi near Kasaragod.
A Nalkathaya theyyam procession in Poyinachi near Kasaragod.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Kundora chamundi theyyam's thottam ritual.
Kundora chamundi theyyam's thottam ritual.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Kadayankathi theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod.
Kadayankathi theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod. Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Pethalan Theyyam’s ritual  dance. The theyyam deities of tribal communites reside within stones and trees and draw raw energy from their tribal heritage and Dravidian essence. They have successfully fought off Hinduisation and continue to be known by their native names such as Pethalan, Kadayankathi, and Kattumodantha.
Pethalan Theyyam’s ritual dance. The theyyam deities of tribal communites reside within stones and trees and draw raw energy from their tribal heritage and Dravidian essence. They have successfully fought off Hinduisation and continue to be known by their native names such as Pethalan, Kadayankathi, and Kattumodantha.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Vishnumoorthy Theyyam  of the Malayan community greets Kundora Chamundy of the Nalkathaya community outside the boundary wall at Alampadi Illam in Kasaragod.
Vishnumoorthy Theyyam of the Malayan community greets Kundora Chamundy of the Nalkathaya community outside the boundary wall at Alampadi Illam in Kasaragod.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Mavilan community members perform a ritual before the start of Kankalan theyyam.
Mavilan community members perform a ritual before the start of Kankalan theyyam.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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Kanakalan theyyam at a sacred grove.
Kanakalan theyyam at a sacred grove.Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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A man belonging to the Mavilan community waits outside the Kakkat Mahavishnu temple for the vilaku  (lamp) to start his Theyyam.
A man belonging to the Mavilan community waits outside the Kakkat Mahavishnu temple for the vilaku (lamp) to start his Theyyam. Photo: THULASI KAKKAT
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