known as Kaaliyattam, it is a ritual dance popular in North Kerala or the
ertwhile Kolathunadu. Theyyam incorporates dance, mime and music.
It enshrines rudiments of ancient tribal cultures, which attached great importance to the worship of heroes and ancestral spirits. Of the over 400 Theyyams, the most spectacular ones are those of Raktha Chamundi, Kari Chamundi, Muchilottu Bhagavathi, Wayanadu Kulaveni, Gulikan and Pottan.
They are performed in front of shrines sans stage or curtains, by persons belonging to the Vannan, Malayan and other allied castes. 'Thudangal' (the beginning) and 'Thottam' (the invocation) are the introductory rituals of the Theyyam or the Thira, as it is known in South Malabar.
The headgear and other ornamental decorations are spectacular in sheer size and appearance, Karivalloor, Nileswaram, Kurumathoor, Parassini, Cherukunnu, Ezhom and Kunnathoorpadi in North Malabar are places where Theyyams are performed annually from December to April.