Theyyam is performed in mainly in the North Malabar districts of Kannur and Kasargod in Kerala State, India. Theyyam dance or Theyyaattam is a pattern of hero worship performed in Kolathunaad, a territory comprising the present Cannanore District and Badagara Taluk of Kerala State. It is a ritual and a folk-dance form supported by a vast literature of folk songs. Theyyam is a corruption for Deyvam ‘God’. 'Aattam' means dance. Thus 'Theyyaattam' means the God’s Dance.
The person who plays and personifies the deity is generally called ‘Kolam’. The word Kolam means figure or shape or make-up in Tamil and Malayalam. In Tulunad, north of Kolathunaad, the custom of Kolam dance is widely prevalent as a form of worship of the Bhootas or spirits. There, the dance was conducted before the sthaanams, where the Bhoothas or the spirits used to reside. Theyyan photos or Theyyam images are essential part of kerala photo gallery.
The performance of Theyyam is supposed to make life prosperous and remove all hazards. Theyyam is perhaps the most significant ritualistic art form of Kerala. The staging area of Theyyam is known as kaavu. Theyyam usually considered as ritual art and the only members of particular communities like Vannan, Malayan are allowed to perform these rituals.
Theyyam is performed between the 10th day of Malayalam month Thulam which is around mid October or mid November. This is the period between the completion of the year’s harvest and preparations for the next year’s harvest. This period for Theyyam is the time for prayers for a good harvest, prosperity and general social solidity.