The city of Thiruvananthapuram in the southern state of Kerala, India, gets dressed up like a bride for the harvest festival of Onam. There will be two kinds of feast: the delicious Onam Sadhya served in fresh plantain leaves with over 25 dishes and the folk arts from across the state. Often hard to say which is more enjoyable.
One such art form of Arjunanritham (Dance of Arjuna) is about to begin with the drummers starting their presentation. The senior most leader reprimands the junior artist for a tiny mistake no one noticed but the leader…
Theyyam is a popular ritual form of worship of North Malabar in Kerala, India. Agni Kandakarnan (Agni Fire, Ghanta bell, Karna Ear) is a theyyam having heavy torches around the waist of the Kolam. In this Theyyam the head gear stands tall some as tall as 50 feet.
The costume is made from coconut fronds, palm leaves, bamboo etc. This Theyyam dances on fire embers with lighted torches tied to the waist. Thick paste made of turmeric powder is kept just below the place where the torch is lit to avoid possible casualties. The head gear also has lighted torches. 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. In short, it is an open theatre. Here you see the theyyam being prepared, just short of head gear.
Arjuna Nritham or dance of Arjuna is usually performed in the Bhagavathy temples of southern part of Kerala.
The subtleties of rhythm, the postures and gestures clearly narrates the story to the audience. Seen here is one of the artists posing with children just before the beginning of a performance.
Cultural events and ritual arts were the focus of the Tourism Week organised by the Kerala Tourism department in September 2010. In this photo, the manager of such a group goes through printed media to quickly catch up with the current happenings or to while away the time.
Found in the same venue was this Ottamthullal artist, who was seen painting his face green all by himself. The costumes are not as prominent or heavy as Kathakali. Most of the artists said they could easily manage the make-up themselves.
Rakthachamundi Theyyam is one of the most beautiful theyyams I have seen. The photographs were taken during the Onam & Tourism Week celebrations organised by the Tourism Department of “God’s Own Country”, Kerala, sometime during September 2010.