Book Review: Dance Of The Spirits - Sanjai Velayudhan

Dance Of The Spirits by Sanjai Velayudhan tells us a story of destiny that each human being could suffer. I was especially interested in this book, for its backdrop of Theyyam and the old customs of our culture. On the first page, Sanjai gives us a deeper insight into the meaning and some rituals performed.

Theyyam is a prehistoric ritual theatre in Kannur in Kerala on the Malabar coast. The sounds of drums get beaten since ancient times. Many believe that the origins go back to the Neolithic period.

Appropriate rituals get organized in the open air for hundreds of deities. It includes spiritual beings, mythical ancestors, and personalized animals. During the performance, the dancers reach a kind of trance state. And so they accept the role of the God worshiped in the moment. At this moment, the dancer is the Godhead.

The book is better suited for this because it has a more mystical mood. The story develops through the tale of a research scholar from the United States. She is on a trip to India to do a thesis on Theyyam. It is an experience so strange that Maria cannot have requested for more.

Maria forges a close bond with Krish, who acts as her native escort. She sees the veil that separates us from the spiritual world becoming more permeable. Maria recognizes more of the things that are visible only to the heart.

Together, they travel to the cabalistic realm of spirits, serpent-gods, and illicit riddles. From time immemorial, people celebrate these holy days with customs, oracles, and rituals. Maria feels that human life gets characterized not only by the course of the seasons. They are also by the rituals and customs associated with it.

As curio gets the better of her, Maria, unfortunately, must pay the price. The end is bitter and one many get tempted to shout aloud. Because with it another, wonderful nerve of humanity gets hit. It is the will to keep control and still be helpless to destiny.

This magical book has the strength that gives a good insight into the human mind. It also allows us to experience the many customs and rituals have been part of human life for centuries. In the meantime, the traditions get revived as Maria goes deeper, and so many surprises await her as well as us.

Dance Of The Spirits by Sanjai Velayudhan takes a special place as the description is fantastic. It is not a book in which supernatural beings emerge or extra-terrestrial beings. The boundaries between intimate reality and mysterious magic seem to run away.


At the beginning, the reader has the feeling that Sanjai Velayudhan would only tell a story by the way. As the reader continues to read, the author flashes through a perfidious characteristic. It is because the fate of a person is being decided.

The reader can get torn between grief, hysterical laughter, indignation and speechlessness. Behind all these things is the truth that every person dies lonely. There is an existence stuffed with meaningless things in the mirror of one's own death.

And yet the novel reveals that there is no other possibility, for we know what death is only when it meets us. Sanjai Velayudhan has packaged all these things in a short novel. It thus triggers a roller coaster ride of emotions in the reader.

Dance Of The Spirits is an emotional work. But even without this reference, the novel would not fail. A distressing picture gets painted without exaggeration. So one should read the book itself. The fact that some things get relativized is comprehensible. But at the same time, it also represents a painful insight which we cannot escape.

This well-written book is an emotional treat! It is not only beautiful, but is also a damn honest book. It is not a horror novel, yet is frightening. It is like a drama, but taken from the real life.

Book Review: Dance Of The Spirits - Sanjai Velayudhan