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Dussehra Festival at Kulasai Mutharamman Temple

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.

Tamil Nadu, India, October 2022. A local village girl dressed as a goddess for Dussehra festival
Goddess Kali with local village musicians.
Goddess Kali roaming in the village and mate with villagers for receive donations.

Goddess Kali rode in a car to go to temple and at once she saw me with my camera, she started to blessing me.
Devotees carrying fire pot with bear hand to offering puja in the temple.
Devotees performing dance with their team in the temple premises.
Devotee in a trance condition in the temple.
Devotees complete their Dussehra puja on the sea beach on the last day of festival.
Evening rituals just before the end of the festival.
Goddess Kali in the sea before removing her hands.

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Avra Ghosh

Avra Ghosh a Kolkata based Indian Photographer. l'm a passionate street, travel and documentary photographer. In my eyes photography is a way of expression, a medium where I can speak my mind. I like to tell the story of common people, their work and the art behind it. Moment comes moment goes, it's my job to capture them on my camera. By profession I'm a vocalist and a piano player.

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