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Teyyam in Fire

Teyyam in Fire
Photo Information
Copyright: Chian Sing Lai (kim_gwan) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 24] (46)
Genre: People
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2012-05-25
Categories: Event
Camera: Sony Alpha 35, SAL 55-200 F4.0-5.6 SAM, Sony SDHC 8GB
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/60 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2012-05-27 1:18
Viewed: 1956
Points: 2
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Agni Kandakarnan is a theyyam performed at Swamimadam in Kannu Veedu Kapadapuarm, Valiyaparamapa Kasaragod in Kerala.

It is a different Theyyam having heavy torches around the waist of the Kolam. This Theyyam is performed in the early mornings in the Temple.

In this Theyyam the head gear stands tall some as tall as 50 feet. The costume is made from coconut fronds, palm leaves, bamboo etc.

This Theyyam dances on fire embers with lighted torches tied to the waist. The head gear also has lighted torches. It is awe inspiring Theyyam as all the materials used in the costume are highly inflammable.

The legend of Kandakarnan/ Agnikandakarnan highlights the relation and unity of both the Gods, Saivism (followers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavism (followers of Lord Vishnu) and explains that there should be no racism among the religion. It brings out the poignant theme that all forms of Gods are manifestations of the same God. Kandakarnan (vernacular GhANTa Karnan , Ghanta (bells) and Karna (ears) was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. For him Lord Shiva was the only God. He hung bells in his ears to prevent him from hearing Lord Vishnu's name being said. Hence he was called Kandakarnan. Once he went to Kailasa and prayed to Lord Shiva to help him attain moksha (salvation) .

Lord Shiva wanted to help Kandakarna to give up on his rigid views and encompass other Gods. Lord Shiva told him that he could not give him liberation and that only Lord Vishnu could do that. However, he gave the spirit a suggestion. Shiva said "Lord Vishnu has appeared on earth as Sri Krishna now. I asked Him onetime to give me an opportunity to give Him a boon. He agreed and told me that He would come to Kailasa as Krishna and get a boon from me. When He comes here for that, if you pray to Him, He will give you what you seek". He also gave a description of Krishna's form to Kandakarnan so he would recognize Krishna when he saw Him. Kandakarna then thanked Shiva, removed the bells from his ears and keeping Krishna's image and name in his mind started waiting for His arrival. One day, he saw Krishna from a distance and recognized Him right away. Immediately he killed a rishi (hermit) who was nearby with a spear and brought the body to Krishna. Kandakarna was used to giving Narabali ( human sacrifice) to please his God. Stopping Krishna he said "I have heard from Shiva that You are the one capable of giving moksha .I just now killed this rishi and brought his body just for You. Please accept my offering" and prayed to Him sincerely. Since he had offered something to Krishna and only to Him, with great sincerity, Krishna accepted the offering and granted him Moksha. Because of his devotion to the Gods Kandakarna is revered and even considered as an Avatar (incarnation)of Lord Shiva.

This was another Kolam featured in Teyyam of singapore art festival 2012.

I took at least ten shots of this character and this one i like the most because of the fact that there were drummers in the background.

First time experiencing on photographing fire.

Absolutely no flash was used, only adding brightness to it.


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  • nicou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2777 W: 0 N: 5194] (50772)
  • [2012-05-27 2:23]


Très belle compo e tiamge quel personnage avec ces flammes de chaque côté superbe intimité et vue.

bravo et amitié


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