Theyyam or Kaliyattam is a ritual dance performed as a surrealistic representation of the Gods they represent. One of the most popular dances of North Kerala, Theyyam is the possessed dancer himself, possessed by one of the 300 deities.

It begins by an invocation or thotam by which the dance becomes the god. The Theyyam thenceforth considered as the god himself dances to the beats of chenda and elathalam. Performers usually take on the role of a particular deity and stay loyal to performing the same over a period of time. This traditional focus of the dance itself demarcated specific communities that perform Theyyam, notably the Malayan and Vannan communities.

The make- up is distinct and unique to the performer. Face painting, large semi circular head gear, breast plates and variously coloured and shaped garments provide an incredibly visual treat.