Theyyam or Thira is a ritual art popular in North Malabar or formerly known as Kolathunadu. It is believed that Theyyam is derived from the term Deivam, means God. This art form dates back to Dravidian age. It is evolved as an aftermath of the caste discrimination prevailed then. There are more than 450 kinds of Theyyams, each with its uniqueness. It is performed in temples, kavu or under sacred grove to please the deities. The performance takes place from the end of October to mid of May, every year at different places in this region. If you happen to be in North Malabar during this time, chances that you will hear the rhythmic thumping of feet accompanied by hypnotic chants and beat of drums are high.
‘Thudangal’ (the beginning) and ‘Thottam’ (the invocation) are the introductory rituals of Theyyam.The artist who plays and portrays the deity is generally called as ‘Kolam’,which means figure or shape or make-up. They tell a story through the act with the support of musical instruments like chenda, edamthala and kuzhal. The length of the performance depends on how long or short the story is. The story of performances is based on the epic scripts or life of ancient heroes or heroines, who once lived in that area.