Folk performances: reading the cultural history of the Thiyya community in Kerala

M. Zahira

This essay explores the ritual performance called Theyyam Vayanadan Kulavan and its traditions in Malabar, Kerala, India. Drawing on an analysis of the performance text and the myth that informs it, I present how the ritual mirrors the shifting desires and experiences of a marginalised community. In conclusion, I explore how the structures of the ritual are interpellated in a globalised world where images of the theyyam are used as icons to promote commercial products or as symbols of Kerala culture in the tourism industry.

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