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.

During a Mavilan theyyam, a person belonging to the same community acts as parikarmi (priest).

Molanthamma theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod.

Kalichan theyyam at a sacred grove in northern Kerala.

A Nalkathaya theyyam procession in Poyinachi near Kasaragod.

Kundora chamundi theyyam's thottam ritual.

Kadayankathi theyyam at a sacred grove in Kasaragod.

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.

Vishnumoorthy Theyyam of the Malayan community greets Kundora Chamundy of the Nalkathaya community outside the boundary wall at Alampadi Illam in Kasaragod.

Mavilan community members perform a ritual before the start of Kankalan theyyam.

Kanakalan theyyam at a sacred grove.

A man belonging to the Mavilan community waits outside the Kakkat Mahavishnu temple for the vilaku (lamp) to start his Theyyam.

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Pethan theyyam's mukhathezhuthu.
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