Arun Hegden's picture

Gods of Malabar.

Theyyam is a performing art happening in the northern part of Kerala, India.
Legend of Kandanar Kelan theyyam.
The story behind the origin of Kandanar Kelan goes like this. A person called kelan who hail from theeya caste came to a hilly area in search of his livelyhood through farming.One day a bit intoxicated, he set fire to shrubs in order to clean up the place.Unexpectedly, the fire spread off and kelan was in the midst, fire all around him. There was no way to escape and kelan climbed a tree as a last resort. Alas, there was a snake on the tree. Kelan and snake fell into the burning fire.Kelan met with death along the snake. It was the time when Wayanatt kulavan had set out for his daily hunting and he happened to pass through this area.
Vayanatt kulavan on seeing the burnt body of Kandanar Kelan, touched his body with his bow. Kelan got his life back immediately. Kandanar Kelan who got a rebirth befriended with Wayanatt Kulavan. Thus Kandanar Kelan also become devine and started being performed as Theyyam. As Kelan was found in the forest fire, he was called Kandanar Kelan. Before the Vellattom of Kandanar Kelan, the hunters would go to the forest and return back with their catch. One of the catch is burnt in the fire and theyyam performance include an enact of intake of these meat.

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