Arun Hegden
Theyyam, a few things to know


Theyyam are Hindu ritualistic dance forms practiced in northern Kerala and some parts of Karnataka(Tulunadu). Theyyam is also known as Kaliyattam or Thira or Bhootakola depending on the region where it is performed.

Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Thee kuttichathan Theyyam, Thachankandi Sri Bhagavati temple, Balussery, Feb 2021
What exactly happens during a theyyam performance?

Since there are 400+ varieties of theyyam we cannot single down to one answer. But in general, there would be a performer/ group of performers who wear extensive make up, head gear, fire torches around their body, colorful attire usually a mix of red, yellow, black, and dance according to the rhythm of cymbals and drums.

Some of them jump through the fire, some twirl with fire torches, some dance extensively to attain the state of trance – where the human performer becomes the demi God- which usually is the deity of the village/ temple/house where the act is done.

The demi god blesses the devotees and cools down to get back into the human form again.

The whole act can go from a few minutes to hours as well. Some of them require sacrifices for the same, usually it’s a chicken until the blood is spilled.

Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Festival time at Puthiyakavu Pappinisseri, Feb 2022

When does theyyam happen?

Theyyam happens usually all over the year, but the major season time starts from Nov peaks around Dec – Feb and ends around April- May.

Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Puthiya bhagavathi theyyam, Kulappuram shri mandhyan tharavadu, March 2020
How to find where theyyam happens?

Theyyams happen usually in Calicut, Kannur, Kasargod, Mangalore and Udupi districts and nearby places of Kerala and Karnataka. There have been theyyam performances in other regions of Kerala and Karnataka as well, but not so common.

This is one of the trickiest things. I usually take local help, or follow pages on Instagram (theyyam of malabar live season highlights) to find the posters to get the details of location, timings and dates. 

Android users can use the app called kaliyattakalam to find the posters. It would be a good choice to call the number given on the poster to find the details as well or connect with any local friend who can translate the same for you, as the text is written in Malayalam usually.

You can check the kerala tourism page to find the details as well.

Most places would not be found on google maps, but if you take local help, these places can be located easily.

Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Setup for Vayanattu kulavan performance at Mykeel SriKarimkuttysasthan Temple, Feb 2022

Why are the names of the theyyam different and what do they signify?

Some of the picturesque theyyams are Thee Kuttichathan, kandanar kelan, kathivanoor veeran, karim gulikan etc.

The names signify the unique deity they represent, and the make up, head gear, props (swords, fire, snake tattoos, etc) depending on the theyyam.

What are the rarest theyyams?

I do not have a definite answer for this. I can list some of my favorites below considering the less number of performances in a year.

Karim chamundi, thee kutti chathan, vedan, athiralan, thotungara bhagavathi, mookambika gulikan, kuttichathan, pulamaruthan, anthithira, pulli pothi, parava chamundi, aalottu bhagavathi, panayakkat bhagavathi, karim gulikan, njarambil bhagavathi, kandakarnan theyyam, raktheswari theyyam.

Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Thee kuttichathan Theyyam, Thachankandi Sri Bhagavati temple, Balussery, Feb 2021

What are the do’s and don’ts if one is attending/ shooting a theyyam performance?

Jotting down a few from my experience.

  1. This is a performance with a lot of people deeply believing and highly spiritual. So happens in a sacred space. Wear attire accordingly, also it’s usually very hot in space, so it would be wiser to wear simple clothes not so bright and keep yourself hydrated.
  2. Respect the performers and maintain distance while photographing the same. Never poke your camera in front of the performers just to get a photograph.
  3. Use a prime lens preferably, like a 24 or 35 or 50mm if you are using a full frame with an aperture of F1.4 or F1.2 . I personally shot all my Theyyam photos with a 35mm F1.4 zeiss lens. You would require a min aperture of F2.8 in order to shoot, so if you are using zoom lenses ensure to get something like a 24-70mm 2.8. Swapping lenses may not be always feasible considering the crowd during the performance.
  4. The auto focus, dynamic range, low light performance of the camera is the most important while shooting a low light performance like theyyam. 
  5. There is no single setting as such, to shoot theyyam. Shoot in RAW, burst mode preferably, use fast cards to avoid buffering, continuous autofocus, with back button autofocus. I ensure to keep a shutter speed of 1/200- 1/1000, aperture of F1.4 – F2.8, and ISO in the range of 100- 1600/3200 to get sharp photos avoiding the motion blur.
  6. Always underexpose, preferably not washing out the fire details while shooting, you can recover shadows upto 2-3 stops without much noise in post production.
  7. Respecting the locals, almost everyone I have come across has been really helpful, welcoming and accommodating with some providing food and water to me as well.
  8. These performances happen mostly during the night, so ensure to have some snacks and be ready to sacrifice your sleep.
  9. Also you don’t have to pay any money to anyone to attend these performances, you can donate to the trust, temple hundi and it’s upto you to make the choice.
  10. Ensure to stay away from sparkles of fire and do not step on them to avoid injuries.
Theyyam a few things to know Arun Hegden
Kandanar kelan Theyyam, Mangalassery Tharavadu, Taliparamba, Apr 2019
Why don’t you do theyyam workshops?

Workshops are coming soon. Stay tuned. Workshop details will be updated through social media and website.

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Arun Hegden
8 tips for saving when traveling in Iceland

1. Transportation — With a population of under 4,000 000, Iceland does not have the best public transportation system. The greatest way to save the most money is to take a rental car and share the cost among four individuals. You can find other travellers if you’re a solitary traveller at hostels or even on Facebook groups (haven’t personally tried these, but worth a go).

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
We hired 2 SUVs as it's easier to move around in the same

2. Accomodation – Hostels can be a fantastic alternative for accommodation if you want to travel on a budget. Try arranging an Airbnb for a group of three to four if hostels are not an option. To locate the best choice, make sure to cross-check both AirBnB and Additionally, double-check the location on Google Maps because there might not be many possibilities outside the city and they might be spread out far from one another.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
Hostels, lodging with 4 beds

3. Food – We try our best to reserve hostels that offer breakfast, eat a tasty local lunch outside, then purchase ingredients to prepare dinner at the airbnbs or hostels we stay at. Avoid skipping out on regional specialties like lamb soup, lobster soup, and Icelandic hot dogs, which are main courses unto themselves.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
Icelandic traditional lamb soup

4. Forex savings: Never exchange currency at the airport, always use a forex card with a good exchange rate, such as the Niyo Global Card, or convert money at a local store (Euros/USD) in your home country (most expensive). We often try to use cards wherever possible and keep 100 to 150 euros in spare change.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
Its very easy to load money through Upi on Niyo app and change your currency and use the Niyo card.

5. Shopping – Unless you’re looking for souvenirs, I personally wouldn’t advise going shopping in Iceland due to the high prices and the fact that the most of the things are imported rather than being created locally.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
The jacket was costing around 27,000 INR which I felt was a bit too expensive considering the utility.

6. Purchase food and goods at Bonus in Keflavik or Reykjavik. You’ll find a wide selection and the best prices here.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
Bonus stores in the main Reykjavik/ Keflavik are the biggest and have the best prices.

7. Alcohol – Keflavik Airport has the best prices on alcohol, and don’t forget to taste the Einstok Icelandic white Ale.

tips for saving when traveling in Iceland by Arun Hegden
A 12 case Einstok Icelandic white ale box.

8. Mobile Data – While most locations offer free internet, Lebara has the finest plans if you’re seeking for a tourist sim ( they sell this in vfs offices in India). The commercial section near the airport exit is where you can also purchase the tourist simulators. One can select between Simin’s network and Nova’s plans, which are both the greatest.

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Arun Hegden
7 tips for a successful pre wedding shoot

1. Location – Location determines your backgrounds, lighting, and overall tone of the photo shoot. Your output will be of greater quality if you are in an excellent location.

Ken Millie Arun Hegden Photography
Light conditions at 1:45pm in Kashmir in winter

2. Outfits decisions before the shoot – To determine whether the couple’s outfits coordinate properly, it is preferable to have a fitting picture of them wearing them together. Additionally, it must enhance the location of the shoot.

Himanshu Ria Arun Hegden Photography
Outfit colors popping out in the environment
3. Utilize the sunrise and sunset light – The best lighting conditions and most beautiful results can be obtained by photographing during the golden hours. This is among the most crucial elements of a well composed shot.
Ken Millie Arun Hegden Photography
We shot this around 8am at first light
4. Use shades in case of harsh sunlight/lighting conditions – Using a tree or a building’s shade when posing will help you avoid closing your eyes and prevent harsh shadows from appearing below your eyes.
Ken Millie Arun Hegden Photography
We made the decision to move to the shade of the mountains for some gentle diffused light because the area was bathed in glaring sunlight.
5. Keep hydrating and carry snacks/chocolates- Shoots can be exhausting, so you may need to take brief energy and drink breaks to stay refreshed.
6. Attention to posing – Posing while holding hands etc. with your spouse might be an excellent terrific method to get excellent photos. It can help bring out a lot of hidden potential in a shot and take away the attention from any distracting elements in the composition.
Ken Millie Arun Hegden Photography
The poses were getting a little monotonous, we decided to engage the hands and the results were marvelous.
7. Do not forget to have fun – Enjoy the photography process, have fun when posing for shots, and the results will be excellent.
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