Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Potten theyyam

The myth behind 'Pottan Theyyam' is related to the story of Sree Sankaracharya.
While he was going to ascend "Sarwanjha Peedam" (throne of knowldge) 'Siva' intervened, disguised as a Dalit, with the intention to further test his knowledge. Siva came as 'Pulapottan', accompanied by 'Pulachamundi'(Parvathy in disguise) and, 'Pulamaruthan' (his minister Nadikesan).
During the performance by using different masks one after another the same performer acts the role of these different deities.
Sankaracharya asked them to go away as he he did not want to be polluted by coming near to members of the lower caste.
Then 'Pottan', who was Siva in disguise, engaged Sankaracharya in a series of arguments. God Siva exposes the hollowness of caste system which divides the humanity into irrational fragments.
"These arguments are dineated in "thottam" "that are verses pregnant with meanings." "It is blood that flows through our veins (though I am a Pulaya); It is rice harvested from my dirty fields that is served as food for you"-the arguments of Siva in disguise goes.

By quoting the thottam some argued that the Potten theyyam is a part of the resistance movement against the caste hierarchy and the verse are the creation of malaya community. But the essense of the thottampattu known to the people from ancient times onwards.
Potten theyyam also a part of the Brahmanisation of Kerala society as a result of the migration of Brahmins to Kerala. The 64 Brahmin settlements tells a different story countering the applause of the advocates of resistance movement.

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