The worship of Muthappan in Kerala is truly unique, as it does not follow the Brahminical form of worship, like other Hindu prayer rituals. The main mode of worship is not through idol worship but by ritual enactment of the Theyyam dance, performed every evening at the temple. There are many versions of Theyyam, and Muthappan Theyyam is one of them. If you plan to visit North Kerala, which is less touristy and commercial than the South, coincide your dates with the Kuttikkol Thampuratty Theyyam Dance Festival. This annual, three-day festival, held in Kuttikkol, in the Kannur district, is a grand affair to showcase Theyyam, recognised as one of India’s oldest folk art forms. The ritual performers of the Muthappan Theyyam belong to the Vannan community of Kerala. A masked dancer enters the temple foyer to the sound of beating drums as a gaudily dressed priest performs the aarti with fervour. The dancer’s face is painted and he is dressed in bright colours and an overbearing headdress. The performance incorporates dance, mime and music, and enshrines the rudiments of ancient tribal cultures, which attached great importance to the worship of heroes and ancestral spirits. After the performance, devotees queue up to make donations and seek blessings from this performer, believed to be possessed by the spirit of Lord Muthappan. He looks at the devotees and whispers into their ears, giving them a solution to their problems and predicts their future.
Top things to see and do: Visit local training schools that teach young children the art of Kalaripayyatu – one of the oldest martial art forms that originated in Kerala, dating back more than 2,000 years; visit the Arakkal Kettu or Arakkal Palace museum, the residence of the only Muslim Royal family of Kerala, to learn about Kannur's past; enjoy the clean Thalasseri beach and the Fort St Angelo located around 3 km west of Kannur town; experience a houseboat in the backwaters of Kannur; visit the Aralam Wild life sanctuary, at a distance of 22 km from Kannur; choose from one of the many Ayurvedic centres for massage and treatment for all sorts of ailments.
How to get there
By air: There are no direct flights to Kuttikkol or Kasargod. Mangalore (50km from Kasargod) and Kochi (almost 400km from Kasargod) are the closest airports.
By train: Kasargod has the nearest railway station. Many trains ply from here to major cities in India. From Kasargod, Kuttikkol is 30km away.
Festival dates: February 23 to 26
Where to stay: Kairali Heritage Resort or Woodgreens Heritage Resorts. For more options, check here.
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