Kandanar Kelan Theyyam

This was my 1st brush of the Theyyam performance in the dead of the night, which included spectacular dance rituals around and within leaping flames of fire.  This is one of the most famous and sought-after performances and for good measure.  After an elaborate dance on the legend of the deity and depicting its fury against the fire by howling at it, smashing it, kicking it, the Theyyam finally enters the fire to vanquish it.

The performances for this Theyyam are a spectacular ritual of dance, sacrifices and leaping into the fire.  If you are interested in reading some more, I have written more about it in detail on Theyyams: A Dance Divine.

Legend/Story: The legend of this Theyyam tells the story of a person named Kelan.  One day he went a forested, hilly area in search of livelihood.  He set a small fire to clear out a space to start farming, however, as he set fire to the shrubs, the fire spread out of control and surrounded him.  In order to save himself, Kelan climbed a nearby tree, which also happened to be home to two snakes.  The leaping flames of the fire finally reached the tree as well and Kelan along with the snakes fell to his death amongst the raging fire.  During the same time, a warrior demi-god called Vayanatt Kulavan was passing the area for his daily hunt and saw the charred body of Kelan.  Vayanatt took his bow and carved the burnt body of Kelan, and infused life back into his form.  Since his rebirth from fire, Kelan came to be known as Kandanar Kelan.

Author: Tanya Raj

A dreamer, a mystic and a traveller! Gallivanting through this life, I travel to understand my soul, place by place, people by people. As a constant learner, I dabble with photography, playing music, reading tarot, practicing Reiki, learning new languages, painting, and of course travelling – I feel it is this variety of life that keeps life alive and fresh. When I am not doing anything, I can be found huddled up with a book in a corner of my house, letting my imagination take flight.

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