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BOTANY OF THEYYAM

BOTANY OF THEYYAM

BOTANY OF

Introduction BOTANY OF THEYYAM Raji R and Raveendran K Department of Postgraduate Studies & Research in Botany Sir Syed College, Taliparamba. 03-41 Kerala is rich in folklore and folk activities. It is a realm of social emotions and thoughts with ritualistic performance. The theyyam as a cult its origin can be traced back to rituals & practices of primitive society. This cult is the form of a holy dance, has historical continuity of over 1500 years (Kurup, 1973). Scientifically, theyyam is closely related to trees, Agriculture and Medicinal plants. The rich diversity of plants and animals are well narrated in the Thottam pattu * of Theyyams. Also, information regarding fruits and vegetables of each and every place in North Malabar can be traced from the Thottam pattu of Kautha - moori. A thorough search of Thottam pattu, the rituals and performance of the different Theyyam, reveals the custom of remote past. Plants associated to various Theyyams are highly medicinal, for e.g. Alstonia scholaris is associated with fairies. The folk god Gullikan commonly propitiated below Michilia chembaka, Azadirachta indica is sacred to Goddess Kali. The trees like Strychnos nux vomica and Aegle marmelos are also connected to theyyam. The Ayiram thengil bhagavathi, Elangikal bhagavathi, Checkippara bhagavathi etc. The very theyyam names such as these indicate their relationship with specific trees and plants. In writing the cultural history of a period for which material evidences do not exist a historian has necessarily to depend upon surviving practices, rituals, ideas, customs, art form, folk-lore etc. and reconstruct the past. The same technique can be used by a Biologist to find out the biota that existed at the remote past. The careful analysis and examination of folk art is a 1

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