Major Festivals of Kannur
- Theyyam festivals at various temples (December - May)
- Kottiyoor festival (May-June/July)
- Annual eight day festival at various temples
Theyyam or Theyyatom is one of the most outstanding and
popular ritual art of northern Kerala particularly now
found in the traditional Kolathunadu of the present Kannur and Kasargod
District. As a living cult with centuries old traditions, rituals and customs,
it embraces almost all castes and classes of Hindu religion. The term theyyam
is a corrupt form of Dhaivam or God. It is a rare combination of dance and
music and reflects important features of a tribal culture.
The indigenous Theyyam cult under the influence of
the great classical Indian tradition incorporated new ideals and legends.
However its form and content did not change very much. The popular folk
religion based on Theyyam was influenced by the Brahmanical settlements in
Kolathunadu like Payyannur and Taliparamba. According to Keralolpathi, a famous
historical book, Parasu Rama sanctioned the festival like Kaliyattam to the
people of Kerala. Kaliyattam means Theyyattam or Daivattam, which lasts for 3
to 11 days. He assigned the responsibility of Theyyam dance to the indigenous
communities like Panan, Velan, Vannan and Malayan. Velan one of the Theyyam
dancers are referred to in the sangam literature.
According to sangam traditions, he was employed by the mothers of love born
girls to exercise the malignant spirits from their daughters. All rituals
described in the sangam works and their commentaries are being observed by
Velan and other dancing communities.
Ezhimalai, described in the sangam literature, ruled
by Udayan Venmon Nannan , is situated in Kolathunadu
near Payyannur. Therefore the Tamil sangam culture with
variations still continue in this region. The dance of Velan community
had taken new forms and developed in to the present day cult of Theyyam over a
period of 1500 years. This uninterrupted continuity of sangam traditions makes
theyyam a prominent religious system of north Kerala. As a religious and
social institution, it has significant place in the cultural history of the
region. Under the impact of Aryans the cult of Theyyam had changed
substantially incorporating new trends and sub cults along with its tribal
character. In short it can be stated that all prominent characteristics of
primitive tribal religious worship had widened the stream of Theyyam cult and
made it a deep-rooted folk religion of the million. For instance, the cult of
mother goddess had an important place in Theyyam. Besides the
practice like spirit-worship, hero worship, masathi worship,
tree worship, ancestor worship, animal worship, serpent-worship, worship of the
goddesses of disease and gramadevatha worship are included in the main stream
of Theyyam cult. Under the influence of Aryan myths and legends, a large number
of brahmanical gods and goddesses had infiltrated a separate
cuts into Theyyam. Along with these gods and goddesses there exists
innumerable folk gods and goddesses and most of these goddesses are known as
Bhagavathis as a matter of sanskritisation.
Different branches of Brahmanical religion such as
Saktism, Vaishnavisam, and Saivism, now dominate the cult of Theyyam. However
the forms of propitiation and other rituals are continuation of a historical
part. Blood offering is forbidden in several cult centres under the influence
of Buddhism,Jainism and Brahmanism. In such centres,
separate places outside the outer wall of the shrines are selected for blood
offering, preparing traditional (kalam)Kendra as
Vadakkemvathil. The Theyyam deities propitiated through cock-sacrifice will not
enter inside such shrine walls. On account of the later origin of Vaishnavism in Kerala, it has no vide-spread
influence on Theyyam cult. Only a few deities are available under
this category. The two major Theyyam
deities of Vaishnavism are Vishnumoorthi and Daivathar. The legend of
Vishnumoorthy identified the
from Managlore to Kolathunadu as Vishnavism was very popular in the Tuluva
country during the 13th century. All other categories of Theyyam deities
can be incorporated in Saivism and Saktism.
Even ancestors, heroes, animals etc. are deified and included in those
categories. In brief, the Theyyam provides a good example for the religious
evolution and its different stages in Hinduism. When the cult of Theyyam,
borrowed liberally from Brahaminism, the brahmins
their social and caste superiority also patronised the Theyyam gods and
goddesses. They established their own Shrines and Kavus(Groves) for Theyyam deities where
non-brahmanical rituals and customs are observed. The goddesses like
Raktheswari, Chamundi, Someshwari and Kurathi and gods like Vishnumoorthy are
propitiated in these house hold shrines. The rituals in such shrines are
different from those of the Brahmanical temples
Theyyam cult can be said as the religion of the masses. Even the follower of Islam are associated with the cult in its
functional aspects. Same of the mappila characters like Ali Chamundi of
Alichammundi Devasthan of Kumbla have
found a place in the cult.
Kottiyoor Shiva Temple
Kottiyoor Shiva Temple located at Kottiyoor, is one of the a famous Lord Shiva temple of North Malabar. This temple is located approximately 50 km From Kottayam Malabar. This Shiva Temple also known as the Kaasi of South (Dakshina Kaasi). This is a famous pilgrim centre devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The actual name of this temple is Sree Kottiyoor Mahadeva Kshetram.
According to the Puranas, it is believed to be the location of the famous Yagna of Daksha, also called the Daksha Yagna or the Dakshayaagam.
At Kottiyoor, there are two temples - Akkare Kottiyur and Ikkare Kottiyur, located on the opposite banks of river Bavali.
The temple festival (utsav) begins every year by mid-May and lasts for 28 days. Ilaneer Veppu or submitting tender coconuts before the deity is an important ritual during the festival. Thousands of tender coconuts brought by hundreds of devotees from different parts of Malabar is submitted on a special day. The very next day is Ilaneerattam. On this day, the main priest pours coconut water collected from the tender coconuts on the idol.
Kottiyoor temple is located near Kelakam. Sri Kottiyoor temple attracts lakhs of devotees every year during the "Vaisakha Maholsavam" celebrations.