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Art in the form of worship and rituals

Mohamed Nazeer

The intricate art of painting the face and making the costume of Theyyam performers were taught to 22 youngsters.

Using a piece of midrib of a tender coconut palm, a youngster carefully draws complex patterns on the face of a Theyyam performer. The youngster was being initiated into the craft of painting the face for Theyyams.

He is taught the natural colours and artistic `Mukhathezhuthu' patterns that are drawn on the face for different varieties of Theyyam, a popular folk ritual in Kannur and Kasaragod regions.

A three-day `Theyyam Mukhathezhuthu Kalari' (Theyyam facial arts workshop) was organised at Keezhara in Kannur from November 11 under the auspices of the Uthara Malabar Pulayan Anushtana Kala Kendram (UMPAKK).

The workshop was organised as the people in the erstwhile `Kolathunadu' get ready for the onset of the Theyyam season that will grip the entire region in the festive fever till the onset of the next monsoon. Rural villages and its `kavus' (sacred groves) will be the stage for this grand ritual. Colour plays a prominent role not only in the make-up of the Theyyam dancer but also in the awe-inspiring designs on his costumes. The `kalari' organised at Keezhara was an attempt to give an opportunity to youngsters belonging to the communities traditionally associated with the Theyyam rituals to learn the intricacies of the lines and designs in the art of the facial painting for different Theyyam forms.

The workshop also became a platform to help the masters in the art of `mukhathezhuthu' interact with 22 enthusiastic youngsters.

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