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Redemption ~ Annual festival of Kodungalloor Bhagavathy Temple

These photographs taken at Kodungallur Temple, Kerala during the annual “Bharani” festival. Thousands of oracles, both men and women from different tribes come there wielding swords, clad in red costumes, singing and going around the temple.

Legend is that Hindu Goddess Kaali after defeating and Killing Darikan (an immensely powerful and arrogant demon) was still angry. To make her feel better,  “Bhoothaganas”- her soldiers sung songs and danced. Now yearly devotees gather and sing to appease the goddess and also seek redemption and unburden their sins.

To invoke goddess Kaali, the ecstatic devotees sing wielding swords. All the Oracles (the mediator between God and devotees) are  in a trance due to deep devotion to the goddess.

This is the most challenging photograph I have taken during the ceremony. There is a huge space constraint as thousands of devotes throng the temple during this festival. The oracles, who are in a trance due to devotion stand in front of the sanctum sanctorum with swords in their hands. I wanted to capture their emotions from close in low angle and managed to sit just in front of them.

Due to the huge crowd, people were nudging each other and I could hardly move. My concentration was on getting the right frame but at that time one of the oracles moved forward with his sword. It was really risky as there are many oracles moving with swords. This particular oracle in the photograph wielded the sword, where I was sitting at least thrice. The challenge here was to get the right shot without being hurt.

Since the space was very restricted, I used my wide angle lense here. My Tamron 10-24  Di II performed pretty well to get the focus along with my Canon 60D. Even though it was a sunny day,  the specific area was less in light because of the huge crowd. Thus I kept the ISO range between 600 and 700 with shutterspeed of 1/400s and with a maximum aperture value with f/3.5

Kodungallur Bhagavthy temple, Kerala, India


  1. What a vibrant and colorful, if slightly daunting, festival! And you captured its energy really well!

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