Thursday, September 23, 2021
Kerala

RITUAL ARTS

Arts and Architecture

Ritual Arts

 
The dancer in Teyyam while passing through the metaphysical experience and getting himself possessed traverses through three stages, the first being one of impersonation which is the negation of his own self  and affirmation of something that will help him to affront the supra-sensible vision. The grotesque mask gives him a new personality which is far away from the reality. The second stage helps him to evolve a mental state of flight to mystic heights before which the dancer takes a look at the mirror, which is a meaningful ritual indicating that he get conceived about the identity of deity (Teyyam) which he impersonates. The last stage of impersonation signifies the possessed state which is energised fully by the rhythmic accompaniment. The whole physique and the psyche of the performer get possessed by the mood of the character which he impersonates. His demeanor is not only adjusted to a special rhythm, but also his utterances attuned to a totally non-realistic beyond the consciousness level.

The dancer has to prepare his mind and body to entertain the Teyyam within himself. During  the period of austerity, which is prerequisite for any ritualistic art, the dancer concentrates on his favourite deity with extreme devotion. The process of transformation from man to God is an experience which the practitioner of the ritual shares with the congregation around.

In the worship of certain Teyyams, intoxicant liquor as an offering is not forbidden. Kuttichattan, Khantakarnam are among the deities of the tamasic (dark group) for whom liquor is an inevitable item. The practitioners of such Teyyams belongs to the Saktiyas for whom liquor forms an  important ingredient of worship in their routine religious practices. To other god heads like 'Daivattar', liquor is strictly prohibited and the artists who impersonate such powers also regard liquor as taboo in their lives.

Teyyam Songs

The full throated singing of tottam songs in the open air, the subdued articulation of the tottam (revelations) and the inaudible chanting of the mantras form different variations of using the inner energy that gushes out while the Teyyam dancer is in a possessed state. The folk singer while he sings out in a loud voice, accompanying the dancing or along with his own dancing steps, uses simple but effective language and straight but thought provoking images. The images reflect his own surroundings charged with an organic strength. Most of these songs are not recorded. They belong to the oral tradition maintaining their own unique characteristics and keep away from the general trend of standardized literature. The major chunk of the Teyyam songs remains well above literary denomination and creates the proper atmosphere with its archaic usages, nuances and rhythmic patterns conveying the subtle emotions of the character impersonated. Teyyam songs belong to a literary tradition of the farthest past which had not evolved through any conscious process of sophistication, but served as life-giving vehicle of the feelings of the village communities.

 

 

 


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