Theyyam is a form of ritual performance usually seen in the temples of North Kerala. While there are a few hundred different variety of Theyyams, nearly all of them have performers painted in rich colours and adoring elaborate costumes. As soon as the ritual begins, the performer or Theyyam enters a trans-like situation and is considered God. At the end of the performances, attending devotees seek blessings from the Theyyam and ask for solutions to their problems.
Some Theyyam performances can be fierce, involving the performer jumping across fire or even dancing with torches on the body. Kandanar Kelan Theyyam is one such Theyyam where the performer, helped by two assistants, jumps over the blaze. Here is a collection of images from a Kandanad Kelan Theyyam held in Kunnaru Village in Kannur district, Kerala.
A Theyyam artist jumps over the fire during Kandanar Kelan Theyyam. Click on the thumbnails below for more images from the Theyyam.