Thursday, June 30, 2011

Theyyam: The Living Gods

Here's a trailer of The Living Gods, a film by Rupesh Tillu, which depicts the story of a father and a 6 year old son, and their hope to find new opportunities for the survival of a form of art. The young boy wants to become a Theyyam artist just like his father Rajesh, who performs a thousand year old ritual from Kerala, India.
"Theyyam is on the verge of extinction, since very few children are learning it."
Theyyam is a unique ritual which is performed only in Northern Kerala. After a complex preparatory ritual involving elaborate make-up and meditation, the performers are incarnated as deities, and dispense advice and counseling to the throngs of devotees who attend these rituals. It's a living cult of several thousand-year-old traditions, rituals and customs, and is observed by all the castes and classes in this region.

I have used the Theyyam tradition as the core focus of my Theyyam of Malabar photo~expedition in 2009, and I (and its participants) was rewarded with incredible proximity to these living deities, and their traditional religious practices. The resulting photographs are possibly some of the most colorful of religious rituals I've made so far.

The gallery Theyyam: Incarnate Deities is one of my favorites.

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