Calicut Temple festivals-Theyyams and Thiras

Theyyams and Thiras are ritual dance performances performed in a kaavu(grove) or temple premises of Malabar area of North Kerala.While in theyyam ,the performer is deemed as God himself,in thira the performer is deemed as being possessed by God. This more than 800 year old ritualistic festival is held usually between the months of December to March in scores of small family owned temples in Calicut,Kannur and Kasergode(North Kerala)There are over 400 different types of theyyam and thira dances. The most popular ones include Bhagavathy thira, Bhairavan thira, chanthu thira,Gulikan thira,Kuttichathan thira, Chamundi thira,Nagakali thira Kandakarnan thira etc.

Thira performance at a local temple near Harivihar,Calicut

Performers of theyyam and thira ,usually belonging to the Malaya,Vanan,Panan,Pulayan and Mvilan communities dress as deities for the dance .The setting is usually temples or as ancestor worship in old houses(tharavads).Theyyam and thira dances are performed in front of a shrine and there is no curtain or stage .The spectactors ,usually worshippers ,stand close by .Mythological stories are enacted during the performances which could last anywhere from one to twelve hours.Some thiras are preceded by vellattams where the performer wears light make up and dances to the tune of drums and folk songs ,emulating the main diety of the shrine.

Here we present a list of temples near to Harivihar homestead, where thiras and theyyams are performed annually. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and there are scores of other temples who have not found a place in our list.The performances are done usually once an year and the dates are based on the Malayalam calendar year and hence liable to change each year.

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