Theechamundi theyyam- A folk art of Malabar
The many temples of Kerala, India have stories and legends of Gods attached to them. One such famous tale is that of Hiranyakashipu, the king of the Asuras. It is said that Hiranyakashipu was enraged with Lord Vishnu for having killed his younger brother, Hiranyaksha. He prayed to Lord Brahma and acquired special powers. The powers made him strong and closer to being immortal. Prahlad, his nephew, however, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He was plunged into the fire a number of times by Hiranyakashipu and was finally rescued by Narsimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, by killing the demon, Hiranyakashipu.
Theechamundi Theyyam is a ritual dance performance, an offering to Lord Vishnu’s incarnation- Narasimhavathara and the number of times the Theyyam enters into the fire corresponds to the number of times Prahlad is thrown into the fire.
In the climax of the dance performance, the dancer wearing tender coconut leaves plunges into the bonfire and comes out safe, a sign of his arduous spiritual observances having made him resistant to burns.
Scientifically, Theyyam supports the eradication of viral diseases, thus saving the village from epidemics.