Symbolism refers to the use of symbols to suggest concepts and possibilities by attributing to them symbolic connotations that are dissimilar from their literal meanings. Symbolism takes diverse forms. Symbolism supplements double levels of implications to a work: a literal one that is irrefutable and the symbolic one whose meaning is far more intense than the literal one. Symbolism makes the plot, characters and the motifs of literature universal. The paper is an attempt to analyse the myths underlying Theyyam as symbols of the travails of the lower caste people. Theyyam is a pattern of hero worship performed in the Kolathunadu region of the North Malabar area of Kerala, India, as a living culture with several thousand years of tradition, rituals and customs. The art is performed by the people of the lower class community. Theyyam rituals mostly take place either within the precincts of a small shrine which is usually called Kavu or in the courtyard of an ancestral house, or in a wide space with a temporary shrine called pathi. There are various myths underlying each Theyyam performance. These myths tell us the story of a lower class man/woman who was subjected to the cruelties of the upper caste society and it’s after effects and how these men/women are deified. Therefore these myths are stories justifying the deification of the downtrodden people which is an uncommon occurrence. At the same time, they act as symbols representing the sufferings of these people and how they function as resistance narratives. These myths can also be read as weaved stories that can act as a shield to protect the oppressed community from the tortures of the aristocratic groups.
S. M. Chandran, “Myth as a Symbolic Narrative: A Study of the Selected Myths of Malabar Theyyam Cult”, English Language and Literature, vol. 4, no. 4, pp. 486-490, 2016.