Kayyankali is a combat and an extremely violent one. Men of strength play it on the occasion of Onam. To play Kayyankali men fight one-to-one without using any weapon and the stronger man wins.
What differentiates Kayyankali from other type of combat called 'Attakamal' is that Kayyankali is played singly while Attakamal is played in batches and is relatively less dangerous.
A Game of Strength
An ancient style game, Kayyankali rewards strength and power. The game is a risky one even though use of any weapon or horses is strictly forbidden. Violence, blood and at times even death is part of a game in Kayyankali.
To play Kayyankali players divide themselves into two equal teams. Effort is made to keep the players of two teams well matched so that the competition is made stiff and challenging for each other. Spectators who assemble in large numbers to watch the ruthless match stand on both sides of the battle ground.
The Deadly Combat
When all preparations have been made, a player from one team goes upto middle of the field and pose a challenge to the opposite party. There is also a strategy involved in the way the player moves upto the field. Combatant moves in taking certain measured steps, in accordance with the technology he wishes to adopt. His match from the opposite team takes up the challenge and comes forward taking the same measured steps.
What follows is a deadly combat. Combatants as a rule are allowed to use only their fists for attack. Left elbow is used as a shield for the attack while right arm is used as a weapon for attack. A series of attacks and counter attacks take place amidst cheering from fans of both the teams.
Combat is considered to be good and interesting when a player manages to shield himself from all the attacks made by the other player. Fall of the opponent on the ground indicates a victory for the other player. It needs great expertise to play the game as novice and amateur player at times attack the vital organs of the body which even leads to the death of a player.
The game continues similarly with other players of the team amidst continuous applause from the spectators. The victorious team is rewarded with a big prize at the end of the game.