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Ways to Experience Theyyam
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Reviewed 14 February 2015

As a researcher on performance I was asked to give an opinion on Theyyam, a ritual that I had the opportunity to study.
Theyyam is an ancient ritual performed by the traditional lowest castes of the once highly stratified Kelala society, but involving most of the other social groups. It combines Dravidian and Arian elements and it is integrated in Hinduism in a most peculiar way. It is old (but not 7.000 years, don’t believe everything you’re told) and it has been adjusting along the years, like any other ritual.
At present day Theyyam is going through an intense process of folklorization, even if there are many that struggle to maintain its symbolic and religious values. Mass tourism is a big danger for Theyyam, if the administrations of the temples don’t learn how to handle it and if tourists are not responsible.
So, I suggest that, if you have the opportunity, you shouldn’t miss to see a Theyyam ritual. But keep in mind that it is a religious ceremony and not an entertainment. Behave as if you were in a European cathedral: don’t smoke, don’t eat and use your photo camera discreetly, if you can’t do without it. Beware that some temples recently started to forbid photos and videos, better ask for permission.
Don’t believe in everything you are told: not all the locals have knowledge about the ritual (and many of them are the first responsible for the danger of it turning into folklore). Most of the locals don’t show much appreciation for the preparatory stages of the ritual: Thottam and Vellatam are very performative and worth to be seen. Choose small family or village temples; avoid the big festivals where, because of the crowds, you won’t see anything. Talk to the people, they are very gentle and friendly. If you’re there at lunch or dinner time, you will be offered a traditional Kerala meal: be ready for a generous amount of rice and spicy curry.
Briefly, try to be a responsible tourist. If you really cannot, you’d better go to Goa and enjoy a trance party.

Date of experience: February 2015
1  Thank Filipe P
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 12 February 2015

I am a middle aged female college professor, and was traveling with a former student (woman) who was assisting me on a grant project. As two women traveling alone who wanted to experience a Theyyam, this was the perfect solution. It was my second Theyyam, my partner's first. At first our guide wanted to take us to a big "parade" (sounded like more of a tourist version of Theyyam)- but I told him we wanted something simple and authentic, and he definitely delivered.
There were some issues with things that were supposedly included in the price, etc. Be clear about what is included. The description said he'd pick us up at the train (which he did)and also drop us back at the train (which he tried to say would be extra- I told him it was supposed to be included.) He handed a book to my colleague (wrapped) and encouraged her to look at it. Then told us it was 1900 R (but when we told him the next day we did not want to buy it, he was cool with that). I had big debates with him about seat belts in the car for us. INSIST on them. (If you've ever been in a car in India, you understand why). And he had arranged a return train ticket for us, and when it came time for me to pay him for it, he overcharged me by 400R. This is a small amount, and it was also as much my fault (I didn't have the receipt handy, and it was only when I checked later that I realized the ticket he said was 1500 R was actually 1100 R) but I would just advise anyone using this service to watch the little details. Still, this was a great experience, the guide was a very nice young man, and as two women traveling alone we felt safe (once we had seatbelts) and well looked after. I highly recommend this service.

Date of experience: February 2015
Review collected in partnership with this attraction
1  Thank Kathleen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 6 February 2015

That advice on where, when and which Theyyam you go to see.
Each tells a very different narrative.
You will be welcomed but please remember the events may look theatrical however they are NOT theatre

Date of experience: November 2014
1  Thank nigelonholiday
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 6 February 2015

I have been tardy in writing this review and so I cannot remember the place where we watched the Theyyam performance. But it is one of the most important temples in the Kannur area. I think the performance itself was way overhyped. A far better exposure to Theyyam was at the local museum (in the local royal family's old house) - has an impressive collection of Theyyam masks.

Date of experience: December 2014
2  Thank HP-NYC-BOM
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 1 February 2015

Difficult to describe. Has to be seen to be believed. A spiritual extravaganza with amazing make-up and costumes. Lucky enough to see one in the afternoon, so didn't have to stay up all night.

Date of experience: January 2015
1  Thank Olivia132
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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