I jumped at the chance to see a Theyyam performance. It is a uniquely north Keralan cultural experience, a dance ritual traditionally created to appease the gods. Theyyams usually take place in small shrines called Kavu and after all the rituals and hymns are performed it is believed the performer takes on the form of the particular temple deity, almost as if he is possessed. We piled into an auto rickshaw at dusk and headed for a nearby temple where cymbals clanged and drummers were in full flow. Villagers gathered around and local dignitaries received blessings. The priest started to perform his rituals and the Theyyam performer stood in front of him. This particular performance was a Muthappan Theyyam where the performer’s face is heavily painted in yellow, with black eyes and red cheeks and a quite disturbingly prominent white mouth. His chest is mustard yellow with symbolic tattoos, red bracelets adorn his arms with a thick red collar around his neck. He wears an elaborate red headdress covered in orange marigolds with a long white tail piece which swished as he galloped around the priest. The drummers began some frenzied drumming, sweaty pouring down their foreheads as the tempo increased and the performer became more animated. A coconut was ceremonially smashed and offered by the priest whilst candles lit the shrine in the gathering evening. It was completely mesmerising. I didn’t fully understand what was going on but the whole spectacle captivated me. At one point I made direct eye contact with the performer which sent a shiver through me! This was a short theyyam, some go on all night. A performance at midnight at a fire Theyyam, now that would be something to write home about!