Kandakarnan is a very popular theyyam performed in many
temples, kavu, devasthanams and tharavadu during the annual thira theyyam
kaliyattam festival in Kannur and Kasaragod region of Kerala. As per
information, Khandakarnan theyyam is a Shaiva theyyam and is counted among
Shiva Ganas – Shiva bhootha gana. Khandakarnan theyyam story is that of him taking
birth in the throat of Shiva and then appearing on earth from the cheek of
Shiva. This is a ferocious theyyam standing amidst fire with fire torches
around his waist.
Manodari the wife of Demon Mahishasura performed intense
austerities to please Shiva. Her sole aim was to avenge Goddess Bhadrakali who
had killed her husband. Shiva was not ready to appear before Manodari but
Goddess Parvati insisted that He should appear before the wife of the demon.
Shiva decided to appear only for a few seconds. Within that
few seconds, Manodari asked for the sweat that fell from the body of Shiva.
Shiva gave her his sweat and disappeared. Manodari returned
back and saw Goddess Bhadrakali walking away happily after the war against her
husband. She decided to test the power of the sweat and threw some of it on Bhadrakali.
Goddess Bhadrakali was inflicted with pox. She started losing her strength and
soon fell down.
Shiva who came to hear about this horrific event got up in
anger and transformed into his Raudra form. Suddenly a murti took birth in his
throat or Khanda and it came out from the cheek of Shiva. This murti was named
Kandakarnan. He immediately went to Goddess Bhadrakali and licked her body and
this freed her from the pox. When Khandakarnan moved to lick the face of
Goddess Bhadrakali, she stopped his saying that they were brother and sister
and he should not do it. Bhadrakali decided to wear the poxes on her face as a
makeup or beauty spot.
Goddess Bhadrakali then asked Khandakarnan to bring Manodari
before her. Manodari trembled before the ferocious form of Bhadrakali and asked
for her forgiveness. Goddess Bhadrakali forgave her and gave her the name
Vasoorimala (the one who spreads poxes). Vasoorimala resides in many important
temples of Goddess Bhadrakali as a subsidiary deity.
Khandakarnan Theyyam has a unique tall headgear or mudi. The
theyyam wears 16 burning torches around his waist.
The popular belief is that Khandakarnan theyyam has the power
to cure all kinds of diseases.