THIRA FOLK PERFORMANCE IN VALLUVANAD.
It is believed that various forms of arts worshipping goddess Bhadrakaali prevailed much before the origin of temples. Once the worship of gods and goddesses started at the temples, various types of arts used to be performed to please goddess Bhadrakaali at Bhadrakaali temples. By and large, many of them were ruined while others continued to be performed systematically and in a ritualistic manner.
“Thira poothan of valluvanad or in theregions of central and western regions of Palakkad district ,nothern part of Trichur district and southern parts of Malappuram dist. When the ricefields turns bare after the harvest the folk dieties march across the stubbled fields in vibrant rhythm making the barren fields fertile again.`
The thunderous beats of Paras ,the big drums beaten by the spikes of coconut make our hearts tremble with its bass vibrations.We feel that we have recaptured the lost rhythm.It is performed by members of Mannan caste .The Vannan,Mannan,Peruvannan,Velan and Perumannan are the sub castes of this Vannan community.The community leaders used to perform rituals and are considered brilliant in the field of traditional Ayurvedic treatment.The Velan who treated Bhadrakali to heal her wounds still pastes turmeric powder in the blood smeared foreheads of Komarams of Aswathi kavu theendal.
The myth can be traced back to Kali ..Darika story.after defeating the demon king Darika the truiphant Bhadrakaloi set off in Vethala vahana..the Thira and Poothans ,the leitnent of lord Shiva accompany the victorios Kali with dance and accompaniments.It is believed that the art form had undergone evolution before attaining its present form.The semicircular shaped head gear is one of a unique item among the costumes of the ritualistic presentations throughout the world.The head gear of Thira is made up of intricately carved wooden pieces joined together.the central wooden piece with a dimension of 14;into 12 inches is engraved with Bhadrakali roopam (the impression of Bhadrakali ).This piece of wood is known as Aadivattam. The other sixteen pieces of engraved wooden pieces are joiened together very closely to form the decorative head gear.The dragon embossed on the Adivattappalaka must be embellished with Damstra or curved canine teeth.
Atter framing the wooden structure the Thazha is constructed on the head gear with reeds and bamboo poles and decorated piece of cloth.the heavy brass anklets the Chilambu,The brass belt with many belts Aramani,Thalasseela,the garland around neck with thickly bound Frangipani flowers and mult icoloured decorative pieces of cloths around waist.
They are in three steps Chittara ,Chittampuram,Thakkam..Face is decorated with black made from oil lamp and rice powder paste and turmreric paste
Thira and poothan visit each house hold aweek prior to the local festival.They consecrete the devotees associated with that temple …The domain is termed as Thattakam.There was a belief among the villagers that the performance of this Thiras may protect them from all evil forces.
.The local country festivals usually fall betweenMakaram,Kumbham Meenam and ,Metam in between end of December to last week of April.The evils are the thrown out andThira bestows all prosperity to villagers.While conducting the house hold visits prior to the days of local festival, the leader of Ezhava community used to welcome the troupe to his house.
The Thira Poothan performance should visit the Ezhava learders visit Thandan of that village and then proceed to the temple where the festival is conducted.The Pooram or local festival performance of Thiras take place in the afternoon session Though they begins the performance at the crack of the dawn. .The Thira performance begins with the bowing the four auspicious directions (dikku) then theThira players with extra ordinary acrobatic skills who make the performance a real treat to watch.The items include Soochikkirikkal.,Muthalachattam ,Thavalachattam,Vellammalakkal,Ativalu veesal. and Othiram marayal.. Poothan & Thira together visits the Hindu houses of the village (Thattakam called locally) during festival seasons accompanied by their drummers. Villagers welcome them with regional religious formalities & it is believed that they represent the goddess who visits her devotees and blesses them. The Poothan and the Thira with their concomitant bells and anklets are synonymous with serene & unsullied villages .Its a folk performance of Mannan community.