Bridge between the human and the divine.
Camera in hand, I found myself travelling through the small town of Payyanur, in the northern part of Kerala. Payyanur is well-known for its performance arts, like Theyyam. It was here, while watching a Theyyam performance, that I had an idea: I was going to capture behind-the-scenes pictures of these artists getting ready before their big performances.
I figured if movies have their promotions, musicians have their videos, sports personalities have candid moments, why not performance artists? I'm pretty sure the world wants to see more than just what's on stage – even with culturally-heavy, ritual arts.
Here’s bridging the gap between the divine and the human. Almost every cultural dance, at least in the south, is a tribute or means to worship deities. It is through these performances that we touch the face of God.
Theyyam is a form of worship, where man dons the guise of God and propitiates the Gods through possessed dancing. Also known by the name Kaliyaattom, the performance is supposed to make life prosperous and remove all hazards. Theyyam is perhaps the most significant ritualistic art form of Kerala – God’s own country. It has its etymological origin from Daivam, God in vernacular. Theyyam is performed in the North Malabar districts of Kannur and Kasargod in Kerala.
Manalmagudi, Thanjavur Therukoothu
'Manalmagudi' is an experimental Tamil Theatre group that stresses traditional rituals in performance, to explore and transcend limits of body, space, time and performance. Ritualized performances and rehearsals take place in non-urban and natural settings, in cities, villages and even in forests and among shifting sand dunes. The audience and actors often merge and include people from the very communities of the rituals, in their own terrains.
Miss Koovagam, Villupuram
"Miss Koovagam" is a fashion ramp walk show organized for transgenders who come together for the annual transgenders festival at Koovagam, a village in the Ulundurpettai taluk of Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, India.
Angalamman Festival, Chidambaram
"Mayana Kollai", a function celebrated for Angalamman on a new moon day of the Tamil month Maasi (Maasi Amavasya). The day before the new moon day is Maha Sivaratri which is a main celebration for Lord Shiva.
Orange vivid face paint with wide black eyes
The headgear and ornaments are truly majestic
A Therukoothu performer
Therakoothu or street play mostly performed by men
Theatre artists at Thanjavur
Transforming the lives of transpeople
One last look
Transforming into a fierce version of the Mother Goddess
The Goddess acquires a human form
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By Vijayaraj PS
Photographs by Vijayaraj PS