15th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest
India's southwestern state of Kerala is home to Theyyam a complex cultural and religious performance that takes place in shrines throughout the region. With intense long term physical and spiritual preparation, during the months of Theyyam, men incarnate Hindu gods and goddesses performing the stories, songs and dances of the deities. Worshippers come for blessings, to seek advice and be cured of their ills. Only members of lower castes like Vannan, Malayan, Mavilan, Velan, Munnoottan, Anjunnoottan, Pulayar and Kopalar have the right to perform Theyyams which are inherited by family. Artists must know every detail about the character they personify and train intensely to perform, apply elaborate make-up and make the decorative headdress and costume. Most Theyyams are preceeded by a Vellattam or Thottam in which the performer narrates the origin and characteristics of the Theyyam he will perform but without full costume and make-up. Temple festivals usually last a few days and Theyyams and preformed throughout the day and night with food and drink offered to all guests.
© Alain Schroeder.
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||Nov. 30, 2017, 1:05 a.m.