A unique grand Dussehra festival is celebrated at Kulasekharapatnam (Kulasai), a remote coastal village near Tiruchendur town in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. A 300 years old Mutharamman temple resides in the village where a massive Dussehra celebration takes place every year.
The presiding deity of the temple is a self manifested Goddess Kali. As she is worshipped with the ornaments made of the pearls taken from the sea, she is called as Mutharamman. (Pearl – Muthu, Ornament –Aram). The tenth day of the Navaratri festival is celebrated in a completely different way in Kulasai than in other India. In Kulasai the devotees themselves dress up like Kali and other forms of Gods and Goddesses and offer prayers to the Goddess Mutharamman.
Devotees all around Kulasai and its neighbouring villages fast for 41 days and dress up like God/Goddess and march towards the temple. During the last ten days, which includes the Navarathri days, the devotees dress up emulating the God and Goddess of the local pantheon. They have to keep away from intoxication and other forms of indulgent, as well as refrain from violent and sinful acts of any sort.
Lakhs of devotees getting assembled in front of the temple. Dressed up devotees carrying fire pot in their bear hands and dancing with their Dussehra team before the deity Mutharamman and it is the most vibrant part of the festival. Devotees lose themselves and move into a trance state for a while.
And after the rituals they go to the sea behind the temple to wash off the makeup.