I love the fact that work takes me to places that I would never even lose my way and end up in. And it so happens that every time I go to Sittilingi, there is something exciting happening. The last time I was there, two weeks ago, there was a huge village temple festival.
The story is that the tribals there decided that their cute as a button tribal shrine just wouldn’t do. So they took the idol out and remodeled the shrine into a city-like temple. Now the idol, having been taken out, was supposed to have lost all powers. So the festival was to take the idol on a day trip to a forest shrine deep in the hills to get the powers back and then reinstall into the sanctum-sanctorum.
The festival was an excuse for a village party with animal sacrifices, loud music all night long and feasting. For the night’s entertainment, a group of dancers had been invited. I stayed on till midnight and got some pictures. But jostling with the villagers and under the poor light, the photos are not of the best quality.
The raunchy dances reminded me of the nautanki and sparked a lot of words in my mind. Those will come up very soon. Meanwhile, take a look at the pictures that I particularly liked.
(I wrote the first part of an account of the festival here on the THI website.)
The dancer’s face is slightly clearer in the high res picture.It isn’t clear, but the motion blur is of one of the girls whirling to the beat of the drums. For some reason, I like the energy in this picture that I felt there that night.
The next morning, the women of the village wait for the animal sacrifice to get over before they go home to cook up a feast. They carry these plates of paper flowers, coconut, incense sticks, bananas and sweet-meat made of raw rice powder and jaggery in a procession around the village before offering them as prasada to Goddess Mariyamma and distributing it to family and friends. The rice powder sweet tasted a little strange and sticky. On second thoughts, I didn’t like it much. Having refused to a feast (being a veggie), I couldn’t refuse to eat it though.