In general, turmeric has a special in place Indian culture – from a staple spice in the kitchen to an essential ingredient in Ayurveda and an auspicious element in Hindu rituals – it is sacred and at the same time, versatile. The whole world swears by it, either in its original form or its now-popular extract, curcumin.
Similarly, in Theyyam too, turmeric is mandatory. It used in preparing the cosmetic for the face makeup or sometimes in Theyyams that have drawing on their body, the artist's torso is smeared with turmeric, as a base for body makeup. Also, there are other rituals that happen around the Theyyam that use turmeric generously. For instance, gurusi – a purifactory ritual where the performance space is splashed with turmeric water before the arrival of the Theyyam.
Finally, at the end of the performance, a Theyyam settles down to bless his/her devotees. What does the Theyyam give them? A pinch of turmeric in their hands and a promise of hope in their hearts!
Chances are, if you have been a part of a Theyyam ritual, and whether or not you queued for blessings, you will go back home with turmeric on you! You are blessed!
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