Last Friday Manoj called me to know whether I was interested to photograph a Theyyam performance on Saturday. Even though it was working day, my family did not want to miss this unique opportunity. So in the morning we went to Chithari 5 km from Kanhangad, Kasaragod district, north Kerala where this Theyyam was held. We reached the venue at at around 11AM. Theyyam for that day had already started. We were greeted by a very enthusiastic crowd of people who welcomed us photographing the Theyyam.
I used both Canon EOS 5D mark II with X Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L IS USM and Canon EOS 7D with Canon EF 300mm f/4.0 L IS USM to photograph this Theyyam. I was using the new Dual Harness from OP/TECH which allowed me the flexibility of using both cameras simultaneously.
The Theyyam we were watching was of Kuruthi Amma and Kappalathi Amma. Both were female forms and there was not much elaborate costume or facial makeup that you see in other Theyyam dance forms. What was interesting is that the Kuruthi Amma was speaking more of Tulu mixed in Malayalam. This theyya may be from our Tulunadu. As I am ignorant of the Theyyam I do not want to hypothesize things I don’t know. But Mangalore is getting flooded with Koragajja temples at every road junction, it might be interesting to find the relation of Mangalore’s Koragajja with Chithari’s Kuruthi Ammma.
I also found the rituals they were performing were similar to our Bhuta Kola. So lot of similarity exists, but facial paint which is predominantly reddish as compared to predominantly yellow color of our Bhuta Kola. I was also able to photograph the sacrifice of the hen to the Theyya. What was most interesting is that the devotee were 99% women with hardly any men folk around. All came at the end of the performance to recive blessing from the Theyya.
What was more interesting for me was the nearby back water. In between two Theyyams I visited this backwater which was full of jellyfish details of which I will post in my next blog..