India, Kannur, South

Kannangattu Bhagavathi Theyyam

The Kannangattu Bhagavathi Theyyam captured the essence of the Devi with such perfection that for a moment when I first looked at the performance, I almost forgot to use my camera.  Through the entire dance, where the Theyyam went around the Kavu, whirling to the soft beats of the drums, I sat mesmerised at the… Continue reading Kannangattu Bhagavathi Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Vasoorimaala Theyyam

In a trance-like state, moving and swaying rhythmically, the Vasoorimaala Theyyam had an utmost calm on his face.  Even though as a man, depicting a goddess, the Theyyam personified the essence of the Divine Feminine energy with the grace, calm, yet a power that seemed to emanate from his very being.  During the initial few… Continue reading Vasoorimaala Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Bhairavan Theyyam

The Bhairavan Theyyam had already finished his performance and was sitting in the grove dispensing blessings to the gathered crowd, by the time we arrived.  Orange painted face, with yellow marked forehead, eyes covered with silver ornaments, and two silver pincers attached to the puffed-up cheeks.  He sat there in all the regalia, but what… Continue reading Bhairavan Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Sasthappan (Kuttichathan) Theyyam

Sasthappan, also known as Kuttichathan were two Theyyams that were dressed identically and performed the rituals, simultaneously.  Wearing elongated rectangular waist adornments, they covered their eyes with silver ornaments, with only a small hole to look through.  Their headgear consisted of two wooden flaps on either side of their cheeks.  However, it was the peacock… Continue reading Sasthappan (Kuttichathan) Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Vishnumoorthi Theyyam

The Vishnumoorthi Theyyam was the most elaborate preparation that we witnessed.  This day-time performance gave us a glimpse into each little detail that goes into the making of every single Theyyam.  We were privy to the makeup along with the several layers of clothing made from areca nut leaves that started at the chest and… Continue reading Vishnumoorthi Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Puliyoor Kali Theyyam

When personifying the goddesses as Theyyams, it is still the menfolk that perform the ritualistic dance.  They invoke the Divine Feminine energies and dress as the goddesses to bring the stories to life.  This mid-day performance was special as we had a chance to witness the makeup and dressing up of the Theyyam.  The face… Continue reading Puliyoor Kali Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Gulikan Theyyam

This was the only Theyyam that did not have the traditional colours of red, orange and black, but was covered in white, almost the colour of ash.  Stripes of black lines ran through his bare body and he wore a waist adornment made of nimble palm strands.  His eyes were covered in patches of black… Continue reading Gulikan Theyyam

India, Kannur, South

Theyyams: A Dance Divine

The December air is sticky with perspiration, as mosquitoes buzz around and fly into our faces, like little drunks who have lost the way, in the thick vegetation on either side of the narrow mud road we are traversing on.  A numb thumping of the drums in the distance breaks through the 2 a.m. darkness… Continue reading Theyyams: A Dance Divine

India, Pune, West

Old Man By The Road

The purple knee-length dress flutters at the hem, as I walk along the cobbled road flanked by rows of wood apple and bamboo trees.  In the early hours, the residents of the Osho Meditation Resort in Pune, dressed in flowing maroon robes and bamboo sandals, are returning from their breakfast at the German Bakery located… Continue reading Old Man By The Road

India, North, Slice of Life, Varanasi

The Soul of Kashi

In Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound”. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards and forwards, it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. ~ Don Draper This is the… Continue reading The Soul of Kashi