After 4 lovely days in Wayanad, we hit our beachside homestay in Kannur. The day started at 6am for us and we headed towards the beach, which was just 50 meters from our homestay in Kunnur. It was very peaceful at that time with some fishermen boats at the other end ready for the journey. There were few folks of birds playing with waves and waiting for their food to hit the beach. They were continuously looking for baby crabs and always trying to avoid the water to touch their feet.
We had morning tea at the dining area. Our home stay didn’t serve anything in rooms, so if you need anything go to dining area and grab the stuff you want. You can’t really see the sea from dining area but listen to the sound created by sea waves.
Came back to our room, packed our stuff for Theyyam Festival and got ready. Plan was to hire an auto and go for Theyyam festival happening in one the villages around Kannur. After breakfast, we left for the Theyyam. We realized that our host had arranged a tata nano instead of an auto. This turned out to be a big trouble later on, but let’s not go there right now.
So we started our ride from home stay to the temple where Theyyam was happening. We were going through some narrow streets surrounded by beautiful houses with lots of coconut trees and backwater streams.
The distance from our home stay to the temple where Theyyam was happening was just 15-20 kilometers away and after driving for 45 minutes our driver realized that he is completely on other route :). He made approximately 15 calls to other folks to find out the route and we took 1.5 hours to reach the place. Finally he had to ask an auto driver to come to a place and take us from there to the temple. Unfortunately we couldn’t understand any of the conversations he had with other folks on the phone, because they were all talking in local language.
We left at 9:15 to ensure that we don’t miss the early part of the festival and also wanted to witness the preparations. But we couldn’t :(.
I was pretty uncomfortable with the whole situation but my wife asked me to relax and enjoy rest of the day. Most of the Theyyams were ready by the time we reached there, but managed to find few who were still preparing. One temple priest helped in locating these folks. It was quite friendly environment at the temple. Many times, I am conservative in taking out my camera at temples or especially for such activities. Temple around a tourist place can be a bigger issue, but this was completely opposite. There were no restrictions on walking around the temple compound with your camera. I managed to catch the Theyyams from many angles and there were other people too with cameras doing the same. But even the photographers were very disciplined and were taking care not to come in the way of the festivities.
Vibha made some friends there, who told about the Theyyam stories, different names of Theyyams & their character etc. I was busy clicking photographs and making videos of things happening there. I will be sharing some of the videos in a separate post.
Every Theyyam has a different dress and varied methods of worships. Every Theyyam is accompanied by a priest who guides them through the worship areas and route they have to take inside temple compound. It was very interesting to see a detailed oriented approach in all these worships and Theyyam movements. After completion of the workshop, every Theyyam used to take a round and giving yellow rice powder to everyone. Folks were supposed to make tilak of this powder & put some of it in the mouth. The artists, once they wear the dress of a Theyyam, are considered Gods themselves. Some of these dresses were really uncomfortable and the artists had to wear them for around 2 hours each. Only unwavering faith and devotion can make them accomplish such a daunting task every year. Our hearts were full of respect for the artists.
Once the Theyyams had all performed, they opened the food pandal. It is similar to Punjabi langar except that you sit on tables and the food is served on Banana leaves. The sweet is served first, followed by rice, sambar, chutney achar and various other vegetarian curries. The staff managing the pandal was very polite and accommodating. We found this very helpful especially since we couldn’t understand their local language and customs. Overall watching Theyyam and having food with everyone was a very heartwarming experience.
After Theyyam we travelled back to the home stay and then the taxi disaster unfolded. The guy asked for an amount, which was double that what we had come to expect in Kerala. Overall it was an ugly scene and left us feeling very uncomfortable. We will talk about this experience in another post after we have had a chance to let it rest for a while. But this was the single blot on our entire trip in Kerala.
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