Kerala being rich in its culture and traditions attracts tourists from all over and is named as one of the hundred great trips of twenty first century. It holds many handicrafts, art forms and traditional forms standing out with beguiling gesture. Kasaragod District is one of the districts of the Indian state of Kerala. It is an astonishing place which has hills, shrines, forts and is complete ecstasy. Theyyam is an exceptional dance art performed in front of shrines. These are witnessed in mostly northern part of Kerala, Kasaragod district. The structures of the village shrines are very interesting and are almost all similar to each other. Maallam, the top part of the shrine has two small pillar like columns, Vyali (god/goddess to protect the place where the rites are performed) is placed in middle of those pillars which look alike in all village shrines. The pillars and the Vyali are mostly of wood. The wood is teak wood or jack fruit’s sometimes. The top part of the shrine and the interior roofing of shrines are built with wood.
Kasaragod has many temples and the woodcarvers do work for temples’ as well. The temple woodcarvers are well-versed and experienced people. The sketch of complete outlook of the wooden carvings are done on a sheet of paper before starting to work on wood. Once the sketch/blueprint is ready, carvings are started portion by portion. The doors, roofing and detailed designs of temple carvings that are in need to be focused on, are segregated among the carvers. The wood that is used is teak wood and here in Kasaragod they even work with the jackfruit tree. The temples mainly are Vishnu temples so order works will be relating to scenes of Dashavataram (Matsya avataram, kuruma avataram, Varaha avataram, Narasimha avataram, Vaamanam avataram, Parusharama, Sri Rama, Sri Krishna, Buddha and kalki). Lakshmi, Ganapati, Sarasvati and Lord Shiva, Vishwakarma, Raashi chakra 12 signs, stories/scenes of Ramayana are generally carved. Each temple has its forms and carving styles so it is done accordingly. Maram kaettupani means carving in Malayalam.
At Kasaragod, one of the carvers named Rinesh, from Vishwakarma family shares that his father dealing with the wood business from generations, cutting, winding and more wasn’t really into woodcarving but he (Rinesh) got interest to learn the art of carving. The people around his place who used to work on wood influenced and he started practicing from seniors around and learnt the art of wood carving. Experimenting new designs with ones learnt he enhances his learning on wood carving. He does more of temple works and is born and brought up in Kasaragod. He gets order work from in and around Kasaragod. He has worked on doors for temples and Vyali, (the carved wooden face with its tongue out, the god protecting the place which can be seen on Mallam) for temples. The skills of artist adds to the three dimensional carvings. Temple carvings are done and installed (Prathishtapana) according to Vastu and other relating elements/rituals. The woodcarvings for temple is generally carried on at temple place itself but sometimes the work is carried to artist’s studio.
Each work takes its time depending on intricate works that needs to be focused on. The door on with Lakshmi goddess to be carved takes ten days approximately to complete with a team of two members. The work of carving the door is split among the two carvers, one person works on the base that is rough chipping off of the wood after drawing and the other person works on the detailing. Graphs are drawn on the picture which is referred. Graphs help them to get exact measurements for the drawings to be drawn. By referring each square one will be able to get the exact drawing finished. After transposition of the drawing on to the wood, carving is begun. The face part of crocodile is all done in one piece of wood, Pillars of temple (wooden ones) snakes’ carvings are found together at the temples. The rails/logs are attached to one single wood on interior roofing of shrines. People only come in mornings to worship. Theyyam dance art starts from shrines. The Daivasthanams is the place of god, and also called as Boothalayas and are found in Kasaragod particularly. People offered idols with weapons in turn of their prayings earlier. The worshipping is done by Eerava community. Bhadrakhali – the female form is believed to remove enemies and protect people from bad things. Ugra rupam – gods found is one of the Gods found in protecting form. Daivasthanams are abode of gods and sometimes the weapons are kept and worshipped, symbolizing protection. These shrines are built in forest areas, as a part of nature. These forest areas are chosen to build to avoid frequent visits of people and other disturbances.