Theyyam experience can often become beyond explanation. Andalur Kavu Theyyam in Kannur is one such Theyyam experience. The myths and epics of Hinduism are deeply connected with the folklore and stories that revolve around Theyyam experience at Andalur Kavu. It is one of the most popular festivals of Theyyam in Kannur. Tyndis provides special Theyyam Tour packages to experience this festival.
In Kerala, people believe that these temple and groves consist of the divine power that brings prosperity and well-being to all living being of the region. The Sacred Groves are typical examples of the harmony in which man and nature could sustain. It is a human being’s love and devotion to Mother Nature that can be experienced at every ‘Kavu’ in North Kerala.
Alas, the modern-day developmental craziness is also affecting some of the iconic temple and sacred groves in Kerala. The touch of nature is being stolen from these places by the installation of Roofing Sheets and Permanent structures to cater to the need of modern lifestyle – electricity, water pipelines and what not!
When you travel to explore Theyyam experience in the heartlands of Kannur – in Dharmadam you shall come across the remarkable story of ‘Andalur Kavu’ – a major temple shrine in the village of Andalur. Here happens the famous festival of Andalur Kavu Theyyam in Kannur.
The etymological grounds regarding Andalur Kavu is that it can be interpreted as the place – the Sacred Grove where the Sacred Arms and Weapons of the protector deities of the land are housed.
Andalur Kavu is often split into ‘Andar-Villoor-Kavu’ which means the Sacred Grove that houses the Sacred Arrow of the protector deity. The local people believe that the Temple Shrine was installed Lord Parasurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu – who is also regarded as the creator of Kerala.
It is an island village situated near the Dharmadam region in Thalassery. Often called as the ‘Thuruthu’, it as Small Island-like place that is covered by backwaters and mangrove growth. Andalur Kavu Temple doesn’t provide any reference to the date of creation of the temple. This ancient temple houses the deity of Lord Rama and there are many other sub-deities as well.
The Andalur Kavu Theyyam in Kannur is celebrated with high spirits by the local people every year in mid-February with high energy. The festival falls in the first week of the Malayalam month of ‘Kumbham’ according to the Theyyam Calendar. It is the Theyyam Calendar that decides the schedule of all Theyyam festivals in Kerala. Click here to know the Theyyam Calendar for the upcoming Theyyam Season.The Theyyam in Kannur Andalur Kavu lasts for about a week. But the rituals, which have been passed down through generations, begins a little earlier. Various rituals are to be carried out before the actual commencement of the Festival was in Theyyam is performed – known as the Kaliyattam.
Andalur Kavu is seen as two Sacred Groves with the shrines of the deities – The major and newer shrine at the Mele Kavu (Upper Shrine) and another one at the Thazhe Kavu (Lower Shrine).
Mele Kavu has permanent structures and has housing for various deities. The Thazhe Kavu is an ideal Sacred Grove with no permanent structures, but only forest growth typical to a Kavu or Grove in North Kerala.
It is one of the few remaining habitats for the species typical of the Myristica swamps, notably Syzygium Travancoricum, an endangered endemic plant. Heavy disturbance in this highly populated area is a threat to the sacred grove.
Andalur Kavu usually is open from morning from 06:00 a.m. to 08:30 a.m. and in the evening from 05:30 p.m. to 08:00 p.m. in days other than the festival. During the festival, according to the Theyyam Calendar dates the temple has different timings due to the special rituals.
There are authorized people called as the ‘Ooralanmar’ who take care of the maintenance, daily operations and other affairs related to the Andalur Kavu. These people come from different families in the region that are prominent.
The Anthithiriyan is the person who lights the lamp for the deity every day during the non-festive days. During the festival days, there will be more priests at the temple for performing the rites.
The Andalur Kavu Theyyam Experience
The festival in Kumbham is considered as a regional festival in Dharmadam. Native people who even work in faraway places or abroad countries take and pay a visit to their village to witness and take part in the Andalur Kavu Theyyam Festival. Thousands of devotees come to the shrine every day to seek the blessing of the deities during the festival.
It is the right of the people of Dharmadam, Palayad, Melur and Andalur to take part in the rituals and activities related to the festival. Theyyam experience at the annual festival of Andalur Kavu is a wonderful visualisation of devotional unity of a place where people still follow very old and sacred customs throughout the season.
During the month in which the Festival is scheduled, people in the region, irrespective of Caste or Religion avoid eating any kind of non-vegetarian food as part of the dedicated penance. Muslims and Christians in the region are also strongly connected with the beliefs.
Andalur Kavu Theyyam experience also showcases a time when the village people get to meet each other – all at once and share their happiness. The people assemble to celebrate the ultimate victory of Lord Rama – which is the victory of good over the evil. It is the festival that put forward a picture of the great culture merging the normal and common life with the great stories of the Ramayana. Tyndis organizes special Theyyam Tours Packages to experience Andalur Kavu Festival.
The Thira or Theyyattam at Andalur Kavu depicts a chapter from the epic of Ramayana – known as the Yuddha Khandam which accounts for the battle between Bali and Sugriva. At the festival, there are Theyyams who enact this epic fight. It is one of the rarest festivals where the entire Yuddha Khandam is enacted by the Theyyam artists. The Temple Shrines has the Kolams of more than ten Theyyams performed during the festival.
The major deity of Lord Rama is performed as the ‘Daivathaar’ Theyyam. Daivathaar is considered as an incarnation of Lord Rama and people come to seek blessings and convey the stories about their hardships and seek salvation from the lord.
Other Theyyams like the Angakkaran, Bappooran, Athiraalar and kids, Ponmakan, Puthuchekon, Nagakandan, Nagabhagavathy, Vettakkorumakan, Ilankaruvan, Poothadi, Cheriya Bappooran, and Thoovakkali etc. are performed as part of the offerings to the sub-deities as well as during the enactment of the battle of Ramayana Chapter.
Just like the Daivathaar Theyyam represents Lord Rama, the Athiraalar and kids Theyyam represents Sita Devi – the wife of Lord Rama and Lava-Kusha the kids of Rama and Sita. Bappooran is for Lord Hanuman and Angakkaran represents Lord Lakshamana. Ilankuruvan depicts Bali and Poothadi depicts Sugriva. People take part in the festival wherein each day each part of the Yuddha Khandam is enacted. It is a wonderful Theyyam experience.
The battle between Bali-Sugriva, the strategic planning between Lord Hanuman and the Monkey Army (the local boys enact the monkey army – who dress in white banyan and dhotis) and the crowning etc. are remarkable sights together with other usual rituals at this Theyyam experience. It is a visual treat for Theyyam photography tours.
Andalur Kavu is just 25 km by road from the Kannur International Airport and can be arrived from Pinarayi on the way to Thalassery. Calicut Airport is just about 100 k.m. from the temple.The nearest Railway station is in Thalassery which is around 8 k.m. away from Andalur. The headquarters of the district is around 25 k.m. drive from Andalur at the Kannur City.
Kerala Tourism and the Kannur Tourism Promotion Council (DTPC) have also opened a Theyyam Museum near the Mele Kavu Temple Complex of Andalur Kavu which depicts the story of Andalur Kavu. The Museum itends to provide an added Theyyam experience.
It houses miniature structure of the temple complex, the full-size idol of Daivathaar Theyyam and lots of information about Theyyam in Kannur, etc. Theyyam museum is open for tourists during the working hours of any day.
Image Credits – Prabija Babu, Janmabhumi, Tyndis and other sources of Andalur Kavu
Interested to have a Theyyam experience, Get in Touch with Tyndis Tours. Tyndis curates customized Theyyam Tour Packages including Theyyam Photography Tours. Tyndis Theyyam Tour Packages includes options of storytelling, accommodation. transportation and more.