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Kannur

Written on: Monday November 24th, 2008

A journal entry from: July 08 - Jan 09

I was lucky enough to see a Theyyam ritual in Kannur, where I stayed for just one night. It was performed at a nearby village. Apparently the origins of the ritual predate Hinduism, but were Hinduised years ago. Theyya, involves a god (Theyyam, an incarnation of Shiva), possessing the body of a dancer who then blesses those in attendance, who effectively get the blessing directly from Theyyam himself.

Whereas the Kathakali performance in Kochi was great to watch, it was just that, a performace for tourists.

The Theyyam ritual was being held for believers. There were only three of us tourists there. I am usually very slow to interlope in religious ceremonies, but we were made to feel very welcome, given tea and chickpeas (or something similar) and coconut on banana leaves, and were encouraged to take photos. It was a privilege to be there.

I didn't think it was appropriate to take photos during the times when Theyyam was blessing worshippers during the 5 hour ritual which involveld singing, dancing, spearing cocounts and Theyyam blessing believers with flowers taken from his head-dress. Even the foreigners were blessed by proxy by one of the men of the temple. The stamina of the possessed man was impressive.