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HomeFact CheckVideo Of Theyyam Performance From North Kerala Goes Viral With Communal Spin

Video Of Theyyam Performance From North Kerala Goes Viral With Communal Spin

Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Claim
Muslim priests appointed in Hindu temples in Kerala

Fact
Mappila Theyyam performance from Kasaragod, Kerala, which features Muslim characters

A video, purportedly showing a person sounding the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) during a temple ritual, is doing the rounds of social media. According to several users, “This is happening in Kerala as they deployed Christian & Muslim priest in Hindu temples.”

The archived versions of the tweets can be seen here and here.

Also Read: Dutch Farmers Spraying Government Buildings With Manure? No, Old Video From Belgium Viral With False Claim

Fact check

Newschecker noticed that the 1:30-seconds video was of a Theyyam performance, a ritualistic dance usually seen in north Kerala.

Taking a cue from this, we ran a keyword search for “Theyyam adhan”, which led us to this Times Now report, dated January 16, 2023, featuring a thumbnail of the viral video. According to the report, the video was first posted on the popular Twitter account @AbbakkaHypatia on January 11, with the caption: ” Kerala Theyyam with Islamic prayer said first. Our unity is centuries old.”

Video of a Theyyam performance from north Kerala falsely claimed to be evidence of Muslim priests being appointed in Hindu temples.

“Mainly performed by males, about 456 types of Theyyams have been documented so far. Theyyam season starts on the tenth day of the Malayalam month of Thulam and lasts up to seven months. The main Theyyam dance is performed in front of the village shrine. It may also be performed in the houses as ancestor worship with elaborate rites and rituals,” read the report.

We then ran a relevant keyword search, which led us to this Youtube news report by Kairali News on “Mappila (Muslim) Theyyams”, featuring the viral video, dated December 24, 2022. The report stated that the viral video of “Theyyakolam starting with an Adhan” is from Kasaragod, Kerala’s northernmost district. The performance was of a Bapiriyan-Manichi theyyam, held at Kasaragod’s Madikai temple. Similar news reports can be seen here and here, stating that the performance was an example of communal harmony.

According to this Indian Express report, dated January 16, 2023, “Theyyam is a Hindu ritualistic dance performed in northern Kerala and parts of Karnataka, often by people from Scheduled Castes, who are treated as God-like entities during the brief act. While most Theyyam performances depict Hindu and tribal fables, in some areas, the dance form even includes Muslim characters.”

We learnt that Manichi Theyyam and Bapiriyan (Bappooran) Theyyam belong to Muslim Theyyams, where Hindu performers play Muslim characters and perform Islamic rituals. “In north Kerala, the Muslims are generally addressed as Mappla (colloquial of Mappila). Thus, the Muslim Theyyams are generally known as Mappila Theyyam. There are about fifteen Mappila Theyyams. While most of them are deified in Kasaragod district and performed by members of the Mavilan and Koppalan communities, in Kannur district it is mainly performed by the Vannans…though Theyyam is a traditional Hindu ritualistic art form, by including Muslim characters, it has been celebrating communal harmony,” read a report published in The Hindu, dated May 23, 2019.

Conclusion

Video of a Theyyam performance from north Kerala falsely claimed to be evidence of Muslim priests being appointed in Hindu temples.

Result: False

Source
Kairali News Youtube video, December 24, 2022
Indian express news report, January 16, 2023


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Authors

Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

Kushel HM
Kushel HM
Kushel HM is a mechanical engineer-turned-journalist, who loves all things football, tennis and films. He was with the news desk at the Hindustan Times, Mumbai, before joining Newschecker.

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