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Tests of fire-The Drowpathy Amman Firewalking Festival

A wild eyed boy runs shrieking across the smouldering coal pit. His face is a turmeric paste mask on which an intricate tattoo of red and white dots has been painted to circle his eyes. He wears green bangles and flowers in his hair.He runs past, hands outstretched. His glazed eyes are unseeing. I have […]

Flowers for Kamakshi

There’s a Goddess stuck on 10th Street in Jogupalaya. Her `poo palakki’ (flower palanquin) is a little larger than the narrow street so she’s in a bit of a fix. Its already 4 am and despite being up all night, there is much to do before before she makes it to the ancient Someshwara Temple nearby. Like […]

Moharrum – They cried ” Al Atash”.

The lone warrior rides swiftly across the scorching sands of the Arabian desert from the Shat-al-Furat, the mighty Euphrates.  Faint cries of “Al Atash ! Al Atash ( thirst)  carry on the still desert air.“ He looks back at the men who follow him. His hand pauses over his scabbard as he remembers his instructions […]

Kadlekai Parishe -There’s a village in my backyard

It was a full moon night. Darkness had fallen and the lamps in the village had spluttered out long ago. Tired farmers slept deeply, weary from day long labour in the fields. The big bull pawed the ground impatiently. He gathered speed as he moved and crashed through the fields, destroying the harvest in his […]

The Bangalore Karaga – The Sons of Draupadi

It’s 1.30 am and I am eating basmati pulao under a malai coloured full moon that hovers above the multi-coloured twinkling lights of the Dharmarayaswamy Temple.  Loudspeakers crackle with stories from the Karaga Puranas while over 50,000 people mill about anxiously, waiting for the Karaga bearer to arrive. I suspect that this temple, the only one dedicated to the Pandavas and Draupadi (Yudhishtra […]