Theyyam is a festival of North Malabar.
This festivals are part of Thiyya culture.Theyyams are performed in the Kavu,temples.Theyyam is a glorification of the valor of a Thiyya ancestor who were saviors of the community,the most prominent being Sree Muthappan and Wayanadu Kulavan.Theyyam festivals start during the months of October (start at Malayalam month Thulaam -10th) to June.The main Theyyams we admired and worshiped are Wayanadu Kulavan,Sree Muthappan,Kathivanoor Veeran,Gurunaathan,Karanavar ,etc.
Out of devotion, ruling clans established their own shrines and Kavus for Theyyam deities where non-sattvic rituals and customs are observed. The dancers paint their faces with red ,yellow and black colors (mukhathezhuthu),wear colorful headgear,and hold spears and swords.The dance starts with the beating of drums and continues through the night , and firework follow it.Devotees enjoy Theyyam.
The Goddesses like Rakteshwari, Chamundi, Bhagavathy and the Gods like Vishnumoorthi ,Gulikan propitiated in these household shrines. There, the Theyyam dancers appear during the annual festivals of Gods and Goddesses.
The rituals in such shrines are different from those of the Brahminical temples. The impact of this cultural fusion could be traced to the social organization based on the caste system and in the agrarian relations. The inviting of Brahmin Thanthri to consecrate the idols of Kavu started very recently. castes especially Thiyyas took it as a major religious practice.
"Gurukkanmar Kavu" in Mavilayi Village ,Peralasseri Panchayth belongs to Thiyyar community.The Komarams of "Gurukkanmar Kavu" , were able to conduct Sarpa Pooja (Sarpa Bali) to get rid of any kind of Sarpa dosha, known as the most dangerous Dosha in Hinduisam. Even Brahmins have lot of limitation in this area. Brahmins of "Pambamme Kavu" have maximum 50-60% ability to get rid of sarpa dosha but not complete. It shows Thiyyars had a higher level spiritual power, which is better than that of Brahmins.
dosha, known as the most dangerous Dosha in Hinduisam. Even Brahmins have lot of limitation in this area. Brahmins of "Pambamme Kavu" have maximum 50-60% ability to get rid of sarpa dosha but not complete. It shows Thiyyars had a higher level spiritual power, which is better than that of Brahmins.
The word Kalari means "threshing floor" or "battlefield" in Malayalam and Tamil. Training for Kalaripayattu, a martial art of Kerala is traditionally done inside the Kalari. Also the past village schools of Kerala, run by the traditional astrologers families were known by the name Kalari or Ezhuthu Kalari.
Every Kalari has a Puttara (meaning "platform where flowers are kept" in Malayalam). The Puttara is a seven tiered platform placed in the south-west corner and houses the guardian deity of the Kalari. The seven tiers symbolise the seven sisters of Amritavani whom where Chekavars of North Malabar were born. These 7+1 system is the basis of 7+1 illams of Thiyyas (Chekavar) of North Malabar. Other deities, most of them incarnations of the Bhagavathi or Shiva, are installed in the corners. Flowers, incense and water are offered to the deity every day.
Poorakkali is a traditional dance ritual performed by men during the nine-day Pooram festival in Bhagavathy temples across North Malabar in Kerala.
The Pooram festival begins with the Karthika asterism and concludes with the Pooram asterism of the month of Meenam according to the Malayalam calendar to honour Kamadeva, the god of love.
The performers come from different sects of society like Thiyyar, Maniyani, Mukkuvan, Chaliyan, Aasari, Moosari, Thattan, Kollan, etc. The basis of Poorakkali essentially is the memories of Vasanthapoojaperformed by inmates of different worlds like heaven, earth etc. Poorakkali spreads knowledge and entertainment. The show steals the hearts of audience with melodious songs and befitting body movements.
Marathukali, the second part of Poorakali, is a fusion of two different styles of cultural arts that prevailed in Thiyyars of north malabar region . One of them is the arguments and counter arguments of two groups and the other is Poorakkali demonstration of their supporters. Marathukali lasts for a long time and is a competitive art form conducted in temple yards. The important parts of marathukali are Chidambarasasthra, yogasastra, bharatha sastra, natyasathra and yogi natakam. ‘Marathukali’, a sort of competition also forms part of Poorakali.
Thiyyars of North Malabar have a unique administrative system.Thiyyar had been a high level spiritual based culture which was based on their Family Kavu, Kulam and Illam (Gotra ). Thiyyar had been their own self governing system.
It is evident that Thiyyars are an exclusive ethnic group;this fact is confirmed by migration patterns and genetic studies.Thiyyars from North Malabar and other parts of Kerala should be recognized as a separate ethnic group and not included with Ezhavas ,who are from an entirely different ethnic group.
Priminant Thiyyas brought identity,glory,and fame to the Thiyya community .Pre-and post -independent period ,Thiyya leaders played major roles in the national and international arena.