Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Ayappan Theeyattu or Ayappan Koothu

Ayappan Theeyattu, a ritual art form popular in Central Travancore and is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa. A temple art form performed mainly by Thiyadi Nambiar community, the instruments used for Ayyappan Theeyattu are Para (a smaller version of the Chenda) and Chenda. The ritual for Theeyattu starts by noon with the performance of Parawill extend to the night. The ‘kalam’ or floral drawing symbolizes Ayappan going on a hunt.

Besides the Nambiar who organizes it, the Velichappadu (oracle) and his assistants will be on stage. Sitting close to the Kalam the Thiyadi Nambiar sings songs encomiums of Ayappan.

Once the song is over the Nambiar appears as Gani Kesavan and presents Theeyattu. Ayappan Theyyattu has no elaborte facial make-up. The dress worn is similar to that of Kathakali  and the  headgear is same as that used for Chakyarkoothu.

Then enters the Velichappadu wielding a small sword. He is bare-chested but for the garland and flowy hair, the face either clean shaven or bearded. Around the waist, he is draped in pieces of white and red coloured cloths. The oracle begins with slow steps while circumambulating around the kalam. The tempo gains momentum and he leaps on to the image in a frenzy. Calm, he later erases the image with both legs. The devotees speak of their compliance, and dancing he suggests solutions to their problems. After this, Ayappan Theeyattu comes to an end.

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