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Mohiniyattam or the dance of the enchantress is a classical art form performed by the women in Kerala.It is perhaps one of the most graceful dance styles among the South Indian classical dance forms. Evocative of the swaying paddy plants and coconut trees in the land of kerala,this dance form is charactarised by soft and gentle movements in the traditon of lasya (grace) and shringara(love).

Mohiniyattom is the finest essence of lasya. It has evolved its every movements ,gestures and footsteps in keeping with the message of a celestial dance -gentle,yet breeathing out an inner vitality. The aim is beauty, not sedution. It aims at perfection of form without flaw.

The music accompaniment is traditionally sopanam music. The Sopanam music is played at the temple doors in Kerala as wake up songs for gods.This uses a special kind of drum called Edakka. . Mohiniyattom costume is in the traditional Keralite cream colour saree with golden border.

To Be Contd……………………………………….

please find photo(mohini aatam) in ths link. http://www.orkut.com/Main#Album.aspx?uid=4101483196539544826&aid=1213844584

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The Gods & Godesses pleaded Lord Brahma to create another veda which would be simple for the common man to understand. It is believed that considering this request Lord Brahma created the Panchamaveda, Fifth veda, Natyaveda, an essence of the other four vedas. It is believed that he has taken pathya (words) form the Rigveda, abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from Samaveda and rasa (sentiment and emotional element) from Atharvaveda to form the fifth veda, Natyaveda.

After creating this natyaveda, Lord Brahma gave the same to sage Bharata and asked him to popularise this veda on earth. Following the words of Lord Brahma, sage Bharata wrote Natyashastra or the Science of Dramaturgy, a great, comprehensive work on the science and technique of Indian drama, dance and music.Bharatanatyam might have got its name from sage Bharata also.The dancers still follow this work to perform.

There is also another story which says that Godess Parvathi tought this dance form to Usha, daughter of Banasura, a demon. Usha taught the same to the Gopikas of the city of Dwaraka, Lord Krishna’s birth place. Thus the divine dance form Bharatanatyam was introduced to the mankind.

In Indian mythology,Lord Shiva is considered as the supreme lord of dance. This divine art form is performed by Lord Shiva & his wife Goddess Parvathi. The Dance performd by Lord Shiva is known as Tandava, which depicts his violent nature as the distructor of the universe. The tandava performed with joy is called Ananda Tandava and performed in violent mood is called Rudra Tandava. There are 7 types of Tandava. Namely Ananda Tandava, Tripura Tandava, Sandhya Tandava, Samara Tandava, Kaali tandava, Uma Tandava and Gauri Tandava. There are few people who believa that there are 16 types of Tandava. Tandava has vigourous, brisk movements.The dance performed by Goddess Parvathi is known as Lasya, in which the movements are gentle, graceful and sometimes erotic also. Some scholars call Lasya as the feminine version of Tandava.

The art form has definitely gone through lot of changes over the years. In olden days it was performed mostly by female artists. They were called Devadasis, who would perform in the temples. These devadasis were accomplished artists who would sing, dance, play many instruments. They were well worsed in sanskrit & other languages which helped them to interpret compositions which they would perform. But this tradition came to an end as the devadasis lost their position in the society.
To know more about devadasis please click here

Then dance entered the royal courts. Here the artists called Rajanartakis, performed in the courts of kings who gave them shelter.Even these were accomplished artists like devadasis.

The next well-documented period of dance history is far more recent. In the first half of the 19th century the dance tradition was revitalized and defined anew through the contributions of four talented brothers (known today as the Tanjore Quartet)Chinniah, Sivanandam, Ponniah and Vadivelu. By coordinating their diverse talents, the four managed to organize all the basic dance movements of pure dance into a progressive series of lessons [adavu chapters]. Each adavu (basic unit of motion) was taught in systematic order and then combined with others to produce choreographed sequences based upon the rhythmic contour of a musical composition (Krishnamoorthy Pillai). In addition the brothers composed new music specifically for the dance, and introduced a different sequence of items which integrated the various aspects of dance and music into a carefully coordinated, aesthetically sound progression. This infusion of creative energy marks the early 19th century as one of the most innovative periods in the history of Indian dance.

The contribution of Udayshankar, Rukminidevi Arundale and Balasaraswathi, in the 20th century, cannot be forgotten at this juncture.

Even though Bharatanatyam has gone through lot of changes, it still has its roots deep into the religious and rich mythological heritage of India. In the modern day scenario it is performed by both male & female artists. Many learn as a hobby and few make it as a profession. Whether taken as a hobby or a profession it certainly needs lot of practice,concentration and dedication.

Bharatanatyam is evenly divided between three elements Nritta, Nritya and Natya .

Nritta : Rhythmic Element.Interprits the language of rhythm with the help of body movements.

Nritya : Combination of Rhythm with Expression.Conveys poetic meaning with the help of expressions, rhythmic gaites and postures. eg. Varna, Shabda, Pada etc.

Natya : Dramatic Element.Performing for a theme like Ramayana, Mahabharata etc.

Nritta
Nritta can be broadly divided into Chari, Karana, Angahara and Mandala. Movement of a leg is called Chari. Movement of both the legs is Karana. 3 Karanas make a Khanda. 3 to 4 Khandas make a Mandala. 4 to 9 Karanas make a Angahara. 4 to 5 Angaharas also make a Mandala. 108 Karanas and 32 Angaharas are defined in Natyashatra. The 13 Nritta Hastas (explained later) are used to perform nritta. The rythmic body movements along with hand gestures are called Aduvus. Number of aduvus constitute a Jati. Jati will generally end with a Muktaya or Teermana.
There are varieties of Aduvus like

Tattaduvu
Mettaduvu
Nataduvu
Kattaduvu
Kudittamettaduvu
Maiaduvu
Mandiaduvu
Jati
Nadai
Ardi

There are 12 aduvus in each of the above explained. Hence 120 aduvus exist in total. Only about 70 – 80 are in practice. The aduvus are more or less Karanas. Hence can be concluded that there are 108 aduvus. The 108 Karanas or Aduvus are carved in the Chidambaram Temple in Tanjore, Tamilnadu, India. To perform an aduvu aramandi, bending of the knees is very very important.

The entire body is divided as Anga, Pratyanga and Upaanga.
Anga
Anganyatra shirohastau vaksha paarshwakateetatau
Paadaviti shaduktaani greevamapyapare jaguhu
Head, Hands, Chest, Waist, Bottom, Legs are the Six Angas. Some people include Neck also.

Pratyanga
Pratyangaani twathaskandhau baahoo prushtam tathodaram
ooroo janghe shadityahurapare manibandhakau
jaanooneekoorparamiti trayamapyadhikam jaguhu
Shoulders, Arms, Stomuch, thighs, Knee are the Six Pratyangas. Some people include Wrist, elbow and Ankle also.

Upaanga
Drushtibhrooputatarashcha kapolau naasikaahanuhu
Adharodashanaa jihwaa chubukam vadanam tatha
Upaangani dwadashitaanyanyaanyangaani santi cha
Paarshnee gulbautathangulyaa karayoho padayostale
Sight, Eyebrow, Eye lids, Eye balls, Cheeks, Nose, Gums, Lower Lip, Teeth, Tongue, Chin and Face are the 12 Upaangas. Few people include Heels, Fingers, Feet, Palm also into upaangas.
Pratynaga and Upaangas should move along with the Angas.
Anga Lakshana, the way of moving body parts, are described below.

Shirobhedha – Head Movement
Greevabhedha – Neck Movement
Drushtibhedha – Eye Movement
Paadabhedha
Mandala – Standing Posture
Utplavana – Leaps
Bhramari – Circling Movement
Chari – Leg Movement
Gatibhedha – Charecteristic walks and
Hastas or Mudras – Hand Movements
Asamyuta Hasta
Samyuta Hasta
Deva Hasta
Dashavatara Hasta
Navagraha Hasta
Jaati Hasta
Bandhu Hasta
Nritta Hasta

When all Angas(main body parts) coordinate (along with pratyanga and upaanga) the artist is said to have Angashudhi. Anga meaning body parts and shudhi, meaning perfect. Any dancer should try to achive this perfection. The Natyashastra, which talks about all aspects of Bharatanatyam, quotes shlokas to perform all the above movements

Aspects of Abhinaya

The expressions which are shown to express poetic meanings is Abinaya. Here the emphasis is more on facial expressions than rhythmic movements. The Abinaya is divided as
Angikabhinaya
Vachikabhinaya
Aharyabhinaya
Satvikabhinaya

Angikabhinaya : Expressing the meanings of lyrics using the body parts like Head, Hands, Legs etc. is Angikabhinaya. The Bhedas which i have explained above come under Angikabhinaya.
Vachikabhinaya : Expressing the Story using narrations in the dance drama is Vachikabhinaya.
Aharyabhinaya : Imitating the Costumes, Jewellary, Make-up etc. in a dance comes under Aharyabhinaya.
Satvikabhinaya :Showing the Bhava(moods) come under Satvikabhinaya.

Lord Shiva is praised as the embodiment of the above 4 types of abinaya in this following shloka.

Angikam bhuvanam yasya
Vachicam sarva vangmayam
Aharyam chandra taradi
tam vande satvikam shivam.

Meaning for the above shloka is

We bow to Him the benevolent One
Whose limbs are the world,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language,
Whose costume is the moon and the stars…”

In Lord Shiva’s well-known pose of NATARAJA,
his right hand holds the drum of creation – symbolising a new awakening
his left hand holds fire – representing destruction of the old order
his other right hand is raised in blessing
the other left hand points to his left foot, which has crushed demon Muyalaka – representing ignorance.

There are nine main or primary emotions, Sthayibhavas. It is also termed as Rasa(Mood).

Shringara – Love
Hasya – Mirth
Veera – Heroism
Roudra – Anger
Bhayanaka – Terror
Bheebatsa – Disgust
Adbhuta – Wonder
Karuna – Compassion
Shanta – Tranquility

Vatsalya(Parental fondling) rasa is also sometimes included as one of the stayibhava.
Vibhava (cause of emotion), Anubhava (effect of emotion) and Sanchari bhava (subordinate emotions) constitute the state of rasa.
Now i would like to talk about Nayika(the Heroine) and Nayaka (the Hero) bhav

The Nayika Bhava

The shastras have classified the basic mental status of woman, the Nayika, into Eight divisions, called Ashtanayika bhavas. These divisions portray the heroine in different situations, express different feelings, sentiments & reactions.
The Ashtanayika bhava are
Abhisarika
Kalahantarika
Khandita
Proshitapathika
Swadheenapathika
Vasakasajjika
Virahotkantita
Vipralabda

Abhisarika – She is the one who boldly goes out to meet her lover.
Kalahantarika – She is the one who is repenting her hastiness in quarrelling with her lover, which has resulted in their seperation.
Khandita – She is the one who is angry with her lover for causing dissapointment.
Proshitapathika – She is the one who is suffering in the absence of her beloved, who is away on a long journey.
Swadheenapathika – She is the one who is proud of her husband’s or beloved’s love and loyalty.
Vasakasajjika – She is the one who is preparing for the arrival of her beloved, by decorating herself and her surroundings. to provide a pleasent welcome to her lover.
Virahotkantita – She is the one who is seperated from her lover & is yearning for reunion.
Vipralabda – She is the one who is dissapointed that her lover has not turned up at the tryst as he promised.

Other classifications of the Nayika bhava are
Mugdha – Inexperienced in love.
Madhya – Partly Experienced in love.
Pragalbha – Matured in the art of love.
This Pragalbha Nayika is further classified as
Dheera
Adheera
Dheeraadheera
Sweeya – Married & faithful to her husband.
Parakeeya – Married but in love with another man.
Samanya – A free woman, who truly belongs to any man for a price.
Jyeshta – The preferred one.
Kanishta – The other woman.

Further classifications are
Uttama – Self-controlled & tolerant.
Madhyama – Literally the middle one, who gives as she gets.
Adhama – Literally the low one, who has no self restraint.

The Companion to the Nayika plays an important role in any padam, javali or Ashtapadi. This Companion is the one to whom the Nayika will convey her feelings, she is the one who will take the message,if any, from the nayika to the nayaka, she is the one who will sort out the differences between the nayika & the nayaka. This companion is usuallly a girl who is close to the Nayika.
The classification of the Companion is as follows.
Daasi – Servant
Sakhi – Friend
Kaaroo – Woman from a lower caste
Chatriya – Step Sister
Prativamshini – Neighbour
Lindini – Saint
Shilpani – Artist
Swaa – Nayika herself as a messenger

The Nayaka Bhava
Just like the heroines, the moods and emotions of the hero are also classified into different divisions. The main division is

Dheerodaatta eg. Lord Rama
Dheeroddhata eg. Demon Ravana
Dheeralalita eg. Vatsaraaja
Dheerashanta eg. Buddha

The other classification is
Pati – Married & faithful to his wife.
Upapati – Married but in love with another woman.
Vaisika – One who pays & enjoys women.

Further Nayaka classifications
Anukoola – Faithful to the Woman. eg. Lord Rama
Dakshina – Loves all his wives or women. eg. Arjuna
Drishta – When rejected, pleads to be accepted by his woman. eg. Vaali
Shatha – The deceitful one. eg. Lord Krishna

Most of the ashtanayika bhavas are experienced by the Nayaka also though the depiction of ashtanayika is more than the nayaka.
Nayaka’s Companion plays an important role too. This companian is categorised as
Peetamardhana
Vita
Cheta
Vidooshaka …

Arangetram

Arangetram is a tamil word.Aranga meaning raised floor and Etram meaning climbing in Tamil,one of the south indian languages. It is also called Rangapravesha in Kannada, another south indian language, Ranga meaning Stage and Pravesha meaning Enter. Ideally this should be the first public performance of an artist. After learning bharatanatyam under the guidance of an accomplished guru, this is the occation for the proud guru to present his/her deciple to the public. This is the testing time for both the guru & the shishya(deciple) as the guru’s knowledge & the deciple’s talent both are judged by the public. Hence, the guru will decide when the deciple is ready for public appearence. Atleast 10 – 12 years of training is necessary to give a comendable performance.

This arangetram was known as Gejjepooje in old mysore district, meaning worshiping the jingles in kannada, a south indian language.For a dancer, jingles are considered devine. In olden days, deciples were not allowed to wear jingles till their first public performance. In their first performance, they were made to worship the jingles, wear them & then perform.
Accompaniments play a major role in the making of a memorable dance performance.Basic accompaniments are a Singer, Mridangam player, Violin player and ofcource the Natuvanga. Veena,Flute and other instruments are optional. These people sit in the corner of a stage or in a place in front of the stage which will be in a lower level than that of the stage.
The artist will wear lot of jewellery, make-up and a specially stitched dress. Jingles are a must.
Usually duration of an arangetram will be 2 1/2 – 3 hours. To perform for such long hours one must have good stamina and concentration. This time is divided into two halves.

In the first half the artists generally perform

Pushpanjali or Alaripu
Jatiswara
Shabda
Varna

In the second half

Padam
Ashtapadi or Devaranama
Tillana
Mangala

Pushpanjali
This is an item where the artist salutes to god, guru and the audience. This item is a warmup item where the artist prepares the body for the next few hours of vigorous performance.

Alaripu
This is a tamil word.Alar meaning to bloom. It comprises of set of movements without any meaning or expression. The movements are performed for syllables set for a beat(Tala). The complexity of the movements gradually increase. The steps are so formed that it looks like a bud blooming into a flower. This is also a warmup piece to prepare the body for the next few hours of performance. Eventhough there is no meaning, this can also be considered as an item where the artist salutes god,guru and the audience.

Jatiswaram
This is also an item where the movements will not convey any meaning or theme. Here the steps are more complex than the previous items. The composition can have amazing postures and teermanas or muktayas(ending of a jati). This is a musical composition set to a raga unlike alaripu which has only syllables.

Shabda
This is a dance item with both nritta & abinaya. Usually the theme of the lyrics will be devotional like praising lord krishna, depicting lord krishna’s childhood , praising a king etc.The movements here are leisurely.

Varna
This is the item where the dancers are tested for their capacity to perform abinaya & nritta. This can be treated as a benchmark to judge the artist’s talent.The item will contain many complex steps and will have lot of room for expressions also. To perform this item one should have lot of stamina & concentration. The lyrics can be devotional, praising a king etc. Varna can also have shrigara rasa as its theme.

Padam
In this dance item the dancer’s abhinaya is put into test. It narrates expression of divine love or pangs of seperation in love. The tempo is slow and the performance is based on a specific mood of love.Padams will have Nayaka(Hero, Supreme lover, Divine Lord)& Nayika(Heroine, the yearning soul). Heroine will talk to her friend(sakhi) and narrate her feelings towards her hero. The lyrics can be about how the hero has betrayed, how he has delayed the arrival, how she is angry with her beloved hero etc. The Nayika and Nayaka Bhavas are explained in detail Here.

Ashtapadi
These are poet Jayadeva’s Sanskrit compositions called Geetagovinda, an extremely romantic composition. It describes the love of Krishna and Radha in twelve cantos containing 24 songs. The songs are sung by Krishna or Radha or by Radha’s maid. Each Canto is named differently considering Krishna’s status of mind.

Saamodadamodara – Joyful Krishna
Aakleshakeshava – Careless Krishna
Mugdhamadhusoodhana – Bewildered Krishna
Snigdhamadhusoodhana – Tender Krishna
Saakankshapundareekaksha – Longing Krishna
Kuntavaikunta – Indolent Krishna
Naagaranaaraayana – Cunning Krishna
Vilakshalakshmeepatihi – Abashed Krishna
Mandamukunda – Languishing Krishna
Chaturachaturbhuja – Intellegent Krishna
Saanandadamodara – Blissful Krishna
Supreetapeetambara – Ecstatic Krishna
Expressions are given foremost importance while performing these poems. Needs lot of grace. The artist should be mature enough to understand the lyrics and the situation to show the rasas.

Devaranama
This item is a devotional piece where the lyrics are in praise of god, describing the god etc. This is a pure abhinaya item with almost no emphasis on nritta. Usually the lyrics are in Kannada. These songs are the compositions of great mystics like Purandharadaasa, Kanakadaasa, Vijayadaasa, Vyasaraaja to name a few. The compositions are popularly known as Daasa Sahitya. It is a devotional literatures written in simple language understood by common man. It has made remarkable contribution to the spiritual and cultural upliftment of people by preaching phylosophy of Love, Devotion and Peaceful Co-Existance.
If you are looking for some compositions, here they are.

Tillana
This is usually the last item in any bharatanatyam performance. Tillana is full of complicated movements & postures. This will also have complicated Muktayas or Sholkattu, ending of any step or aduvu. This is mainly a nritta piece which might have a charana, a meaningfull lyrics for which abinaya is shown.

Mangala
Meaning ending the performance. Here the artist will again salute god, guru & the audience for making the performance a success

Please find bharanatyam photos in this link
http://www.orkut.com/Main#Album.aspx?uid=4101483196539544826&aid=1215933819

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The Theyyam or Theyyattam is a popular ritual dance of North Kerala, particularly now found in the traditional Kolathunadu, of the present Kannur and Kasargode districts. As a living cult with centuries old traditions, ritual and custom, it embraces almost all castes and classes of Hindu religion in this region. The term Theyyam is a corrupt form of daivam or God. It is a rare combination of dance and music and reflects important features of a tribal culture.

The indigenous Theyyam cult under the influence of the great classical Indian tradition incorporated new ideas and legends. However its form and content did not change very much. The earliest Brahminic settlements like Payyanur and Perimchellur (Thaliparamba) in Kolathunadu where the Brahminic religion was propagated through the institutions of temples largely influenced the popular folk religion based on Theyyam and other tribal cults. According to the legendary Keralolpathi, Parasurama sanctioned the festivals like Kaliyattam, Puravela and Deivattam or Theyyattam to the people of Kerala. He assigned the responsibility of Theyyam dance to the indigenous communities like Panan, Velan and Vannan. These traditions explain how the indigenous cults like Theyyam were incorporated and metamorphosed under the religious supremacy of the Brahmanism. In the long historical process a social system evolved in Kerala in which the little culture like Theyyam belonged to the depressed castes and classes where as the temple oriented culture belonged to the dominant castes and classes. There were no violent confrontations between these two cultures as there was no total destruction of the indigenous culture. “There can be no doubt”, say Bridget and Raymond Alchin, ‘that a very large part of this modern folk religion is extremely ancient and contains traits which originated ruing the earliest periods of Neolithic , Chalcolithic settlement and expression (The Birth of Indian Civilization 1968 p.3039)

Velan, on of the communities of Theyyam dancers, is referred to in the Tamil Sangam literature. According to Sangam tradition he was employed by the mothers of the love-lorn girls to exercise the malignant spirits from their daughters. He propitiated God Murukan to drive away the evils spirits by sacrificing a goat before a Kalam or Square made for this occasion. At the end of the ceremony he conducted a dance known as Velan Veriyatal with a spear in his hand and prophesied the future happiness of the girl. The works like Tirumurukattuppatai, give descriptions of Velan’s Kalam, offering of chekki and oleander flowers with sacrificial blood, locations of performance like Manram, Podiyil, estuary (thuruthu), groves, forest, riverbanks and Kadamba tree. The main characteristics of such performances are traced in the contemporary Theyyam cult. Now all such rituals as described in some of the Sangam works and their commentaries are being observed by Velan and other dancing communities in the cult of Theyyam. Now the Velan community is divided into two groups known as Anjutton and Munnutton in Kolathunadu. According to tradition this division is based on the character of their offerings to the deity. The Munnutton section committed only three offenses (such offerings are offences to Brahmins) namely killing of cock, goat and buffalo, and the Anjutton (five offences) namely killing of cock, goat, buffalo, elephant and human being. Some of the Theyyam ritual songs describe that earlier the priest or the dancer had even sacrifices human beings in favour of the deity.

Ezhimala described in the Sangam literature and ruled by Udayan Venman Nannan is situated in Kolathunadu, near Payyanur. Therefore the Tamil Sangam culture with variations still continues in this region. The dance of Velan had taken new forms and developed into the present day cult of Theyyam over a period of 1500 years. This uninterrupted continuity of the Sangam tradition makes Theyyam a prominent religious system of north Kerala.

As a religious and social institution it has significant place in the cultural history of region.

Classification of Sub Cults

Under the impact of Aryan religions, the cult of Theyyam had changed substantially incorporating new trends and sub cults along with its tribal character.

In a different way, it can be stated that all prominent characteristics of a primitive tribal religious worship had widened the stream of Theyyam cult and made it a deep rooted folk religion of the millions. For instance, the cult of Mother Goddesses had an important place in Theyyam. Besides this, the practice like spirit-worship, hero-worship, masathi-worship, tree-worship, ancestor-worship, animal worship, serpent-worship, worship of the goddesses of disease and gramaadevata-worship are included in the main stream of Theyyam cult. Under the influence of Aryan myths and legends, a large number of Brahminical gods and goddesses had infiltrated as separate cults into Theyyam. Along with these gods and goddesses there exist innumerable folk gods and goddesses. Most of these goddesses are known as Bhagavathis as a matter of sanskritisation.

Different branches of Brahminical religion such as Saktism, Vaishnavism and Saivism now dominate the cult of Theyyam. However the forms of propitiation and other rituals are continuation of a historical past. In several cult-centers, blood offering is forbidden under the influence of Buddhism, Jainism and Brahmanism. In such centres separate places outside the outer wall of the shrine are selected for blood offering and preparation of the traditional kalam known as vatakkanvathil. The Theyyam deities propitiated through cock-sacrifice will not enter inside such shrines walls. This is a good example of a long-standing cultural synthesis of ‘little’ and ‘great’ cultures.

On account of the later origin of Vaishnavism in Kerala, it has no wide-spread influence on Theyyam cult. Only a few deities are available under this category. This may probably be due to the lesser influence of Vishnu on the village folk who had an uninterrupted tradition of the worship of Mother goddess for fertility and the god Siva and his son Murukan for protection and security even during the Sangam age. Two major Theyyam deities of Vaishnavism are Vishnumoorthi and Daivathar. Vaishnavism was very popular in Tuluva country during the 13th century under Vishnuvardhana of Hoysalas. He was a great champion of Vaishnavism. Most probably he was deified as Vishnumoorthi and propitiated in the Bhoota cult of Tuluva and then propitiated as a prominent folk deity in the Theyyam also. The legend of Vishnumoorthi is identified the God’s migration from Mangalore to Kolathunadu.

All other categories of Theyyam deities can be incorporated in Saivism and Saktism. Even ancestors, heroes, animals etc are deified and included in those categories. In brief Theyyam provides a good example for the religious evolution and its different stages in Hinduism.

Patronage by Brahmins

When the cult of Theyyam borrowed liberally from Brahmanism or it was super imposed by the Brahmanical legends and myths, the Brahmins with their social and caste superiority, also patronized the Theyyam gods and goddesses.

They even established their own shrines and kavus (groves) for Theyyam deities where non-brahmanical rituals and customs are observed. The goddesses like Rakteshwari, Chamundi, Someshwari, Kurathi, and the gods like Vishnumoorthi are propitiated in these house-hold shrines. There, the scheduled caste Theyyam dancers appear during the annual festivals of gods and goddesses. The rituals in such shrines are different from those of the Brahmanical temples. Such a cultural fusion or inter-action between the ‘little’ and ‘great’ cultures makes Theyyam an interesting field of research for social scientists

The impact of this cultural fusion could be traced on social organization based on caste system and in the agrarian relations. Once the cult is patronized by the Brahmins, the highest authority of Hindu religion, the intermediary and lower castes also took it as a major religious practice. IN fact the cult has become the religion of the masses. Even the followers of Islam are associated with the cult in its functional aspect. Even some of the Mappila characters like Alicahamundi have found a place in the cult.

A note on Performance

The dance or invocation is generally performed in front of the village shrines. It is also performed in the houses as ancestor worship with elaborate rite and rituals.

There is no stage or curtain and other arrangements for the performance. The devotees would be standing or some of them would be sitting on a sacred tree in front of the shrine. In brief it is an open theatre. A performance of a particular deity according to its significance and hierarchy in the shrine continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The chief dancer who propitiates the central deity of the shrine has to reside in the rituals. This may be an impact of Jainism and Buddhism. Further after sun set this particular dancer would not eat anything as legacy of Jainism. His make-up is done by specialists and other dancers. First part of the performance is usually known as vellattam or thottam. It is performed without proper make-up or decorative costume. Only a small red headdress is worn on this occasion.

The dancer along with drummers recites the particular ritual song, which describes the myths and legends of the particular ritual song, which describes the myths, and legends of the particular deity of the shrine or the folk deity to be propitiated. This is accompanied by the playing of folk musical instruments. After finishing this primary ritualistic part of the invocation the dancer returns to the green room.

Again after a short interval he appears with proper make-up and costumes. There are different patterns of face-painting. Some of these patterns are called vairadelam, kattaram, kozhipuspam, kotumpurikam, and prakkezhuthu. Mostly primary and secondary colours are applied with contrast for face painting. It had effected certain stylization also. Then the dancer comes in front of the shrine and gradually “metamorphosises” as the particular deity of the shrine. He, after observation of certain rituals places the head-dress on his head and dances. In the background folk musical instruments like chenda, tuti, kuzhal and veekni are played with rhythm. All dancers take a shield and kadthala (sword) in their hands as continuation of the cult of weapon. Then the dancer circumambulates the shrine, runs in the courtyard dances. The Theyyam dance has different steps known as kalaasams. Each kalaasam is repeated systematically from first to eight step of footwork. A performance is a combination of playing of musical instruments, vocal recitation, dance and strange makeup and costumes.

The stage-practices of Theyyam and its ritualistic observations make it one of the fascinating theatrical arts of India.

to see theyam photos ,please click the link.This article is not written by me.it was posted in my orkut community ” by a member “UP & AWAY”.i  am just sharing the article with you………….
http://www.orkut.com/Main#Album.aspx?uid=4101483196539544826&aid=1216258761s

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