Agni Khandakarnan

Theyyam is a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, India. Agni Kandakarnan (Agni Fire, Ghanta bell, Karna Ear) is a theyyam having heavy torches around the waist of the Kolam. In this Theyyam the head gear stands tall some as tall as 50 feet.

The Agni Khantakarnan theyyam being readied for performance
The Agni Khantakarnan theyyam being readied for performance

The costume is made from coconut fronds, palm leaves, bamboo etc. This Theyyam dances on fire embers with lighted torches tied to the waist. Thick paste made of turmeric powder is kept just below the place where the torch is lit to avoid possible casualties. The head gear also has lighted torches. There is no stage or curtain or other such arrangements for the performance. The devotees would be standing or some of them would be sitting on a sacred tree in front of the shrine. In short, it is an open theatre. Here you see the theyyam being prepared, just short of head gear.



Cultural events and ritual arts were the focus of the Tourism Week organised by the Kerala  Tourism department in September 2010. In this photo, the manager of such a group goes through printed media to quickly catch up with the current happenings or to while away the time.

Found in the same venue was this Ottamthullal artist, who was seen painting his face green all by himself. The costumes are not as prominent or heavy as Kathakali. Most of the artists said they could easily manage the make-up themselves.