Tag Archives: India

Theyyam: the colors of God

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Few weeks ago in a village nearby Kannur, Kerala.

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from wikipedia:

Theyyam (TeyyamTheyyattam or Thira) is a popular ritual form of worship of North of Kerala,  India…

…The dance or invocation is generally performed in front of the village shrine. It is also performed in the houses as ancestor-worship with elaborate rites and rituals.

There is no stage or curtain or other such arrangements for the performance. The devotees would be standing or some of them would be sitting on a sacred tree in front of the shrine…

…A performance of a particular deity according to its significance and hierarchy in the shrine continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The chief dancer who propitiates the central deity of the shrine has to reside in the rituals. This may be due to the influence of Jainism and Buddhism. Further, after the sun sets, this particular dancer would not eat anything for the remainder of that day …

His make-up is done by specialists and other dancers…

…The dancer along with the drummers recites the particular ritual song, which describes the myths and legends, of the deity of the shrine or the folk deity to be propitiated…

…the dancer comes in front of the shrine and gradually “metamorphoses” into the particular deity of the shrine. He, after observation of certain rituals places the head-dress on his head and starts dancing. In the background, folk musical instruments like chenda, tuti, kuzhal and veekni are played in a certain rhythm…

…A performance is a combination of playing of musical instruments, vocal recitations, dance, and peculiar makeup (usually predominantly orange) and costumes.

PhotosElection: Datura Baba

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Today I start my selection of the pictures I will print for my very first exhibition.
I decided to start with one of the picture I like the most.
This one:
Datura Baba

I met this Sadhu in a small village called Jalalpur.
Literally in the middle of nowhere  in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Hundreds of kilometers far from the last touristic place where you can find bottled water or toilet paper.
2000 people, 80 amazing temples (sadly mostly in very bad condition) and 80 hand-pump wells.

Why I was there and how I reached that place? …long long story. Better to describe those moments.

Jalalpur is the hometown of my friend Raju, the only person able to speak few words of English in the whole village.
Those were the days of the local religious fest, a crazy aesthetic event.

Raju introduced me to a group of  Sadhus coming from “who knows” that gathered there like many other pilgrims.
He didn’t finish to speak that we were invited to sit and join the circle.

People start gathering surrounding us.
All the eyes were pointed at me.
Mine were trying to focus on the scene and the ritual.


The Baba starts eating a small piece of a root.
Raju says: “This is Kali Singha. Very powerful. Very dangerous. Don’t eat”.
I got only the hindi name and a piece that I still have the Sadhu donated to me.
He said to Raju it was an immense honor for him.
I was the Guest.
I was God.

Than he starts smoking a mixture based on Ganja, roasted and crushed Datura seeds and Bidi, the hand rolled indian cigarettes.

Bewitched by the scene I took the camera…and this is the sequence:

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Now that I look at the sequence I was wondering if I should print the sequence instead.
Anyhow… before I left I got a special blessing from this guy 🙂
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SitaRam

P.S: I am aware of the fact that selecting photos is not an easy task.
I am lucky because I can count on the judgement of friends and photographers I met during the last months.
Obviously if you guys…random and interesting people visiting this blog…want to participate, well…feel free to do it with your comments.

Into the darkness

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Looking at my pictures a good friend of mine, great travel buddy and talented photographer, use to tell me with her french accent :  ” izs too daark man”. I admit it…I like darkness and shadows and obscurity…sometimes even lack of clarity. And I like to underexpose often in order to get less details but higher quality pixels I can play with in the dark room.

Yesterday I had time to play with one photo I took in Kolkata/Calcutta (India).

It was very dark and I was coming back from the local street market with a bag of veggies and fruit in one hand and the camera on the other. In company of one of the many interesting and smart characters that I met during my last 8 month trip, a true traveler and conversationalist, we decided to sit on a bench and have a pomegranate and a doobie.
I think we were talking about sacred symbolism or some other kind of dark matter.

Suddenly this kid popped up (original photo).

into the darkness

I think he was living with his family in one of the shelters that you can see in between big roads and buildings in one of the most high end residential areas of Calcutta. The pores of his skin were colored by the petrol gases coming from those old taxi that keep in hostage the city.

He was begging for some rupees and, in my poor Hindi I say: “Nei Paisa’, baia. Fal?” (No money brother, Fruit?). He took an apple. I took a picture and 5 seconds after he disappear.

—– Playing and puzzling in the digital darkroom—–

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