Situated in the island of Dharmadam near Thalassery, Kannur district, is the glorious Andalur Kaavu famous for its unique thira festival in the month of February.
Dharmadam (Dharma Pattanam) village is an Island surrounded by rivers on three sides and by Arabian Sea on the fourth side. The whole villagers consider this festival near and dear to heart and take strong vows of vegetarianism and teetotalism for the period of this festival. Besides, the village is also renowned for the hospitality towards visitors during the festival.
The name “Andalur” could have possibly come from Andavar (God). The main deities of this temple is Daivathar (who is considered as Lord Sree Rama), Sita, Lakshmana, & Hanuman. The temple has 2 parts – Mele Kavu and Thazhe Kavu representing Ayodhya and Lanka respectively. Thazhe Kavu is a serene place with huge banyan trees and several rare plants.
The festival is said to based on stories from Ramayana epic and is celebrated in the malayalam month of Kumbham (Feb-Mar), starting from Kumbham 1st for 7 days. About 39 theyyams perform here like Daivathar (Lord Rama), athiralan (Sita Devi), bappooran (Hanuman) etc. One of the key performances is the Bali-Sugreeva war depicted by Ilankaruvan (Bali) Poothadi (Sugreeva) theyyams. All the men and boys who take the vows dress themselves in a unique white attire and performs as Vanara’s in various rituals such as Thara thikkal, Thingi paayal etc.
I happened to go to the Andalur Kaavu festival by chance during my first ever visit to Kannur, which coincidentally was during the time of this festival. I went all alone in the evening after I heard about this temple during my stay at Thalassery. But soon enough I didn’t feel I was alone as I met many good hearts who were excited enough to tell all about the history and rituals of this temple. I hope to visit the festival again.