Masquerade for the gods
Dates2011 - 2012
The tiny non-descript South Indian village of Kulasekarapattinam wakes up to the world of colour and noise during the ten-day Dasara festival.
The tiny non-descript South Indian village of Kulasekarapattinam wakes up to the world of colour and noise during the ten-day Dasara festival. More than a million people converge in this coastal temple-town to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Legend has it that the divine female cosmic energy Shakti took on the form of the dark and dangerous Kali to slay the demon Mahisasura on the new moon day of the Tamil month of Purattasi (September to October). The temple of this vital, fear-inducing goddess Devi Mutharamman is 300 years old. The only one of its kind in South Asia, this temple houses the male and female deities within the same shrine. With no place to stay, or eat, Kulasekarapattinam, 60 kilometers from the nearest town Tuticorin, could be a traveller nightmare. Not so for the fervently devout, who convert the beach into a fair ground. Some vendors sell miracle talismans. Others hawk cotton candy and Knick-knacks.
Here, prayers take on potent forms. People dress as gods. They take to the streets. Men metamorphose into goddesses. Children paint themselves as black demons with perfect white fangs. Women, possessed by spirits, utter prophecies. Colours run riot. Rivers of arrack flow. Everybody dances throughout the day. They stop, briefly, only to seek Alms. The high-voltage, pulsating beats of Tamil war drums drown out the roar of waves on the rugged seashore. Days fill with euphoria. Nights Float with ecstasy. At the end of this festivity, people prepare for the holy dip in the sea. As their divine disguises wash off, their dreams perhaps come true.