Devakkooth Sthreekolam | Lady Theyyam
Smt. Laxmi Amma from Madayi in her final performance, Dec 2010
Devakkooth, “Where women are honored there resides the God” . The Hindu mythology witnesses that the status of Hindu woman during the Vedic period was honorable and respectable. The history described that they had played a great role in molding and upholding the civilization. Attainment of women in intellectual and spiritual field is resplendent and intellectuals like Mata Amrithanandamayi’s (Amma) influence is not only confined to the Indian continent. Believe it or not still there are Goddesses living in and around us. It is the reality that in Thekkumbad a small island in Kannur District, Kerala people deify a woman who can capable of metamorphoses in to a living deity.
The name ‘Thekkumbad’ originated from the words ‘thekki’ means deposit and ‘mad’ means small land. It is a small land area, a beautiful lush green island, formed by the erosion from the nearby Arabian Sea. The place which looks like a coconut forest belongs to the Mattool Panchayath . The geographical importance to the island is impressive; and the history described that the place was rules by the Land lord ‘Chirakkal Kolathiri Raja’. It was an important gateway for the foreign traders and the large scale export of spices and other major goods had done through the island by using the adjacent Azheekal port. The major rivers connected with this area are Payangadi river, Thekkumbad river, Mattool river and Valapatanam river. Recently a bridge has constructed to connect the island with nearby Kannapuram Panchayath.
KOOLOM TEMPLE THEKKUMBAD (Lady Theyyam, Sthree Theyyam)
The two temples; the Thaya Kavu and Koolom temple situated at the extreme south part of the island. The myth related to the temple is that there exists two deities Chuzhali Bhagavthi and Someswari Devi. So far there is no theyyam cult for Someswari and it is realized by another deity called ‘Karimchamundi, Varaharoopam’ and it has got a separate place in the temple. Another shrine Thaya Kavu is situated about 500 meter south of Koolom. The main deity of Thaya Kavu is Thaiparadevatha (Chuzhali Bhagavathi), a prototype of Madayikavu Bhagavathi. Both the temple festival occurs at the same time. Other theyyam of koolom includes Erinhikkaeel Bhagavathi, Kalikka Theyyam, Kalaka Theyyam, Kattile Theyyam, Cherukkan Kriyathan, Karimchamundi, Vettakorumakan, Devakkooth, Bindhoor Bhootham. The festival is celebrated during the interval of two years.
DEVAKKOOTH THEYYAM (Lady Theyyam, Sthree Theyyam)
It is the only theyyam in North Kerala performed by a lady. Presently it is performed by Smt. Laxmi Amma from Madayi and she has already retired due to her old age after the 2010 performance. It is the right of the Vadakkan Kooran family to decide her successor. One who perform the theyyam has to follow certain customs as per the tradition. She has to under go forty one days fasting, dieting, observe vegetarianism and undergoing a kind of solitary life without mingling with local people. The people adores the deity with great expectations and believes that Goddess bless the people with prosperity, happiness, wealth and health, and eradicate fatal diseases from the locality. The performance usually witnessed by people from different walks of life like media, photographers, research scholars, anthropologists, and also the huge presence of foreign nationals give a devotional ambiance to the program.
The function starts with an attractive ceremony in which the lady is carried by a wooden boat from Ayiram Thengu Valluvan Kadavu to Thekkumbad Kadavu before two days of theyyam performance. She is then brought toward to the shrine with a colorful procession. It is called ‘Thalapoli’ in which the local people carry the different items like metal plates, divine books, special clothes, palm umbrella, oil lamp etc. For two days she will be staying in a temporary shed constructed near the shrine called “Koochil”, made by coconut leaves. There will not be any contact with outsiders. On the theyyam day only her close relatives like her husband or son will do the make up works. The make is comparatively simple with a face painting, a colorful head dress, breast plates, arm ornaments, bangles, garlands and cotton garments . The overall make up gives a ferocious image of a Goddess and she became a real embodiment of God, a person completely metamorphoses in to a Goddess which describes the ancient myth and legends. After the make up the drum start to beat outside her shed and all are eagerly waiting outside to receive the theyyam. Slowly she will come out with a curtain and move towards the temple precincts. The simple dance along with footsteps will starts along the with melodious songs of the theyyam artists which describes the myths and legends of the particular deity. After a few minutes another deity appears and he is ‘Naradan’ and both of them dance along with the drummers.
Myth and Legends of Devakkooth
The plot of the story is a pretty girl along with her maids come down from heaven to collect rare flowers from the small island. It was described that Thekkumbad island was enriched with rare wild flowers which was a great attraction for celestial nymphs. Suddenly the girl became isolated and she entangled inside the forest. Others searched her a lot but in vein they left the place. Unable to move she became worried and prayed for the help of Naradan. He appeared and helped the girl and moved to the area of Thayakavu. Further they reached Koolom area and she had put up in a temporary shed with coconut leaves for changing the dress. Llater on both of them crossed the Thekkumbad river in a wooden trough and reached Ayiram Thengu Valluvan Kadavu to move to heaven.
Text from - www.theyyamcalendar.com/history/devakkooth