Theeyaattu is a ritual art form which has a mention in the ancient Malayalam texts like Keralolppathi and Sanghakkalippattu. A traditional dance form, in Theeyattu the performer is considered to be the icon of God. Theeyattu is of two types – Ayyappan Theeyaattu and Bhadrakali Theeyaattu. Ayyappan theeyaattu is an offering to Lord Ayyappa whereas Bhadrakali theeyaattu is an offering to the mother Goddess (Kali).
Colorful ritual drawing (known as Kalamezhuthu) of the deity (Lord Ayyappan or Bhadrakali) on the floor with natural powders is the major component of this ritual. Subsequently, the deity is invoked through traditional songs to the kalam and offerings are made. Story of the deity is narrated through ritualistic dance performance. Finally the priest or oracle enters Kalam, dances there and erases the Kalam.
The etymology of Theeyaattu is said to be from Daivattam, Theyyattam, Theeyaattam. Theeyaattu gives great importance to the Thiri Uzhichil (action of swirling the fire), and that accounts for its name Theeyaattu (‘Thee’ means fire) and is conducted to propitiate the God/Goddess.