Dussehra arrives in Kulasekarapattinam, a small beach town in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district, like a megawatt jolt of electricity. What is otherwise a slumbering rural community springs to life as the devout from all over the state descend on it for an epic jamboree. Men and women take to the streets as doppelgangers of different gods and goddesses, notably the fire-breathing Kali, accompanied by folk music and performances. The 12-day celebration usually commences with the advent of the lunar cycle, and culminates with a theatrical recreation of the slaying of the demon Mahisha by Kali’s avatar Shakti on the beach.
Kulasekarapattinam’s Dussehra festival traces its origin to the 300-year-old Mutharamman Temple, a devi shrine. As per local legend, it was built to protect the village from evil. Early on, the festival was a humble affair but as more and more villages from Tamil Nadu began to participate, it gained in importance. Today, the event qualifies as one of the most unique manifestations of Dussehra in India.
To read about other Dusshera traditions, go here.
Abhishek Hajela is the recipient of the prestigious International Nikon Award. He curates and leads experiential photography workshops globally, and also works closely with the semi-nomadic tribes of Rajasthan.