Author: Syam

Chamayavilakku ~ an offering to god where men dressed up as women

The Kottankulangara Chamayavilakku Festival is an annual Hindu festival in Kerala, India in which thousands of men dress as women to get the blessing of Devi to get fulfill their desires. The festival takes place at the Kottankulangara Devi Temple at Chavara near Kollam, which is sacred to the goddess Bhagavathy. Every year this festival is celebrated on the 10th and 11th day of the Malayalam Month Meenam. The deity of the Temple which is believed as ‘Swayam Bhoo'(Self Origin). This famous temple having no roof made for the sanctum sanctorum. On the festival day, boys and girls dress themselves as girls and ladies to hold the traditional temple lamp. The traditional temple lamp is made fitted on a long wooden rod and is having provision for five oil wick lamps. The cross-dressing is part of traditional ritual festivities and at night devotees hold the lamps and walk in procession to the temple to the accompaniment of a traditional orchestra. The two day festival attracts thousands of devotees throughout the State. Believers from other States …

Talakad ~ temples buried under sand

Talakad (Talkad, Talakadu) knows as Dalavanapura and Gajaranya in sanskrit, was the capital of the Gangas, who ruled present Mysore, Mandya, Hassan, Bangalore and Kolar districts from the fourth to tenth centuary A.D. The Gangas were succeeded by the imperial Cholas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara and the Mysore Wodeyars. It’s unbelievable that the historic site, Talakad once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand. The old city Talakad is completely buried beneath the hills of sand stretching for nearly a mile in length, only the tops of two pagodas being visible. The sand hills used to advance upon the town at the rate of 9 or 10 feet a year, principally during the south-west monsoon and as they pressed it close on three sides. Stone pillars and majestic carvings in the mandapa of Vydyanatheshwara temple. The inhabitants of Talakad were constantly forced to abandon their houses and retreat further inland. The town, however, is increasing in population, owing to the rich wet cultivation in the neighbourhood. More than thirty temples, it is stated, are …

Abode of digambaras ~ infront of Bahubali

It was amazing to stand infront of the 57-feet tall magnificient monolithic statue of Gommateshvara Bahubali at Shravanbelagola. Gommateswara statue is considered as world’s largest monolithic stone statue. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees gather here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is covered with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and gold coins. The next ceremony will take place in 2018. Shravanabelagola town is a prominent center for Jain Art, Architecture, religion and culture for over 2,300 years. The largest number of Digamber jain Basadis in India is found at Shravanabelagola. This apart, largest number of rock inscriptions, concentrated at a single center is found here.| “Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. Acharya Bhadrabahu and his pupil Chandragupta Maurya are believed to have meditated there.” The giant monolith of Bahubali at Shravanabelagola.The 57-foot (17m) statue carved from a single piece of rock built in around 983 A.D and is one of the largest free standing statues in the world. This magnificient monolithic statue of Gommateshwara Bhagawan Bahubali was consecrated by …

Dance of god

Theyyam is a traditional art form of Kerala which incorporates dance, music and enshrines the fundamentals of ancient tribal cultures which attached great importance to the worship of heroes and the spirits of ancestors.  The staging area of Theyyam is known as Kaavu. Theyyam is also performed at home (Tharavadu) and fields. Theyyam’ performers belong to one of the Hindu communities (Malayan, Vannan, Velan etc.). Each individual caste has the right to perform certain deities and all performers must poses a wide range of extraordinary skills. They must know the ritual and character of every deity. They have the inherited right to perform, know-how to sing, dance with the drum, do the complicated make-up, costume style and character of each heroes and deities. Through these series of photographs I am trying to say the story of “Kandanar Kelan Theyyam”. Legend is that Kandanar Kelan is a yesteryear warrior. While he was out hunting, the forest caught fire. He climbed a tree, which was the home of two snakes. Fire consumed the tree, snakes and Kandanar Kelan. …