GATHERINGS&WORSHIPLOCALS / February 2013

MASQUERADE FOR THE GODS in India

The goddess Kali.  A man becomes the goddess Kali to bless the people of the village.Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2011.

The goddess Kali.
A man becomes the goddess Kali to bless the people of the village. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2011.

 

Photography By Yannick Cormier

Text by Sophie Pinchetti

A man with floor length dreadlocks transforms into Goddess Kali, the Hindu Goddess of Time and Change. Another one wears a tiara and animal print dress, emulating Lord Shiva. This is Fall in Kulasekarapattinam, where more than a million people gather in this tiny coastal temple-town of South India to celebrate the 10-day Hindu festival of Navratri, symbolic of the triumph of good over evil. Through masquerade, people begin to dress as gods and the body becomes a channel for the divine and the gods of the Hindu mythology.

The reportage ‘Masquerade of The Gods’ documents men and children who dress themselves as different gods during this festival brimming with talismans, shrines, myths and magic. Wigs, colourful make-up, jewellery, masks and headdresses are used to create the god or goddess inspired by depictions in traditional Indian and ancient Hindu scriptures. Regular t-shirts and dresses take on a new life when donned and accessorised as a god, demon, spirit or animal. Men metamorphose into goddesses. Children paint themselves as black demons with perfect white fangs.

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.

 

A man as Lord Shiva.  Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A man as Lord Shiva, Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A young boy prepares to become a goddess. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A young boy prepares to become a goddess. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

Demon.  Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India,  2012.

Demon.
Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The Spirit Gazelle. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The Spirit Gazelle. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A guardian of the gods. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A guardian of the gods. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A Goddess of evil.  According to tradition, devotees will transform themselves. Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A Goddess of evil. According to tradition, devotees will transform themselves. Kulasekarapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The death.  Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The death, Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

Monster and policeman.  Kulasekarapattinam, ,Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

Monster and policeman.
Kulasekarapattinam, ,Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A man becomes the god Hanuman. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

A man becomes the god Hanuman. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The monkey god Hanuman. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

The monkey god Hanuman. Tiruchendur, Tamil Nadu, India, 2012.

 

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