Framing the enchanting Theyyam

THE HANS INDIA |   Sep 11,2018 , 03:44 AM IST

Indu Chinta
‘Theyyam’ is an artistic expression of religious worship, and it is hard not to be fascinated or spellbound by it. I felt the power when I watched my very first ‘Theyyam’ performance. I was deeply moved by what I saw, and I was in a trance myself. The image of the artist throwing himself on the fire mountain lingered on in my mind. 

But that was the instant I knew I wanted to capture at least some of the magic with my lens because an art form like ‘Theyyam’ warrants visual documentation. I also knew I wanted to be instrumental in spreading the aura of ‘Theyyam’ to an even wider audience, national and international,” shares Indu Chinta during the launch of her book ‘Theyyam: Merging with the Divine’ in Hyderabad. 

Though Indu is from the city of pearls, she was living in Chennai for work and that’s when she decided to pursue her dream. Preserving cultural heritage is a cause which is close to her heart.  She worked her way through Tamil Nadu, where she visited Tanjore, Darasuram, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Madurai, Mahabalipuram, and Rameswaram. From there, she went to Karnataka – Belur, Halebid, Sravanabelagola, Karkala, Sringeri, Udupi, and Mangalore. Kerala was obviously her next stop. There she was introduced to Theyyam where it cast a spell on her.

Through this book, Indu aims to reach people from all over the world to convince them to witness and experience the same dynamism of ‘Theyyam’. When asked about her experience and what to expect from the book, she said, “I was totally in a different world for those five months that I spent in Kannur from January to May, visiting ‘kavus’ and interacting with people there who still followed the ritual. 

Theyyam performers also helped me understand the intricacies of the ritual, which I tried showcasing through my book. Peppered with folktales and legends, the book is a photographic treat and tribute to the artists who pour life and soul into their every performance. The book is currently available on Amazon, Flipkart and bookstores across India.” 

The book launch that happened last weekend, commenced with a ‘Theyyam’ performance by Shri Santosh Panikkar and team from Kannur, Kerala. Indu Chinta is currently conducting an exhibition of her photos to spread and create awareness about ‘Theyyam’ and has decided to donate the proceeds from the exhibition for Kerala rehabilitation.

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