The Lion In the Cave – Ritual Art Form of Kerala

The beams ascend toward the God, Who holds the knowledge of all lives,
So that all things behold the Sun.
Emerging up above the dark, toward the higher light we turn:
We have attained the God of Gods, The Sun itself, the highest light.

Born leaders with the attitude of a king, Leo’s are considered as one of the powerful zodiac signs. They are known for their presence being felt in public through their persona. Stubborn, creative, passionate, generous, warm-hearted, self-centered, unbending, vibrant, aggressive are the common traits of a Leo.

To reflect their dominating personality through photography Theyyam art form was considered as the most suited one. Performed through ages among the gullies of Kannur, Kerala; Theyyam has been called as ‘The Gods of Malabar’.

This performing art is not for the weak hearted specifically ‘Kandanar Kelan’. Like a Leo the Kandanar Kelan has a heart of a roaring lion which emerges through the flames of fire. Their creative and vibrant costumes narrate the story behind the festival.
His passionate, aggressive and stubborn outlook makes him almost unstoppable from jumping into the fire. He has an unbending mind which gives him pleasure while jumping through the flames which others fear.

Like a God he showers his blessing with utmost generosity towards the people who are dumbstruck from his performance. Kandanar Kelan himself enjoys being self-Centred among the common people. He taps his feet hard on ground when people disobey him. His strong impulse towards defying death and to gain victory reflects the jungle king.

theyyam an ancient sacred ritual

Leo – The Lion in the Cave

theyyam festival kerala

RhythmIgniting fire in the soul

kerala theyyam dance

UnbendingDetermined towards his actions

theyyam in kerala malappuram

ReverencePraising the Gods

theyyam the dance of gods

AggresiveMaterializing from the inferno

theyyam history north malabar

MagnanimousGenerous toward his devotee

theyyam in kerala

EmergeArising through the sea of flames

theyyam the visual art form of kerala

VigoriousThriving with divine energy

theyyam dance of kerala

LeapGone over the hurdle

theyyam make heritage

NumbA walk over the flames

theyyam art culture kerala creativehut

EnduringAn unforgetable experience

All the photos and text in this post are copyright of Pooja Singh, Creative Hut Institute of Photography. Their reproduction, full or part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.


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