Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala

Onathar and Oneshwaran

Onathar is a traditional folk art form performed during Onam sesaon in Kannur and adjoining areas. Also known as Onathappan, Onatheyyam the head of the Onatheyyam will be from the Vannan community.

Boys would don the role of Onatheyyam and along with instrumentalists would visit houses on Uthradam and Thiruvonam (zodiac signs) in the Malayalam month of Chingam (August/September) during Onam festival. The facial make-up would be simple and the Theyyams would wear special costumes and headgears. On the right hand they will carry a bell and on the left hand, an Onavillu. The Onatheyyams would walk jingling the bells.

The Onapottan who visits houses would dance against the background of songs and music. Onathar sings special songs. The origin of Onam and Mahabali are contained in the legend that they sing. The song has a peculiar rhythm.

Oneshwaran is similar to Onatheyyam that is popular in Kannur, Kozhikode district and neighbouring places. This art form is also known as Onapottan and the main feature of this Theyyam is it does not speak and thus the name Onapottan (in Malayalam pottan means dumb).

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