Fir: From Folklore to Climate Change

Bala Krishnan Koyyal (Author, Independent Scholar, and Human Rights Attorney, retired)

The paper is a study on the folk practices of north Kerala in South India with special reference to Theyyam Kandanar Kelan connecting it to the present-day incidents of man-made fire incidents leading to climate change. For the folk community of north Kerala in south India, fire is a symbol of superiority and control. There are many local legends that articulate the spirit of fire. They see divine spirit in fire. It is also an integral part of all ritual practices of the area. A dominant element in the local ritual practice is the Theyyam culture. Kandanar Kelan is a Theyyam deity closely connected with fire beliefs and ancient agricultural practices. The paper discusses and make an attempt to synthesise the folk belief and the current state of fire and climate change. In the process the paper explores folk beliefs, myths, and traditional farming practices. It further goes in to connecting with the present day so called “wildfire” incidents, its causes and hazards. The thrust area of the paper is to analyse and articulate the present-day fire practices that is leading to human caused climate change on the backdrop of folk practices.

Part of 02-14 Religious Beliefs, Symbols, and Rituals, Thursday, November 02, 10:30 am–12:30 pm