Captivating snapshots of a different reality

POWERFUL IMAGES: One of the pictures on display at the Kala Kendra Art Gallery in Auroville. — Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

POWERFUL IMAGES: One of the pictures on display at the Kala Kendra Art Gallery in Auroville. — Photo: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT  

Deepa H Ramakrishnan

Pondicherry: A photo exhibition, titled "The Numinous between sacred and magic - Deities and religious festivals in the villages surrounding Auroville, was held at the Kala Kendra Art Gallery inside the Bharat Nivas complex in Auroville.

The exhibition showcased pictures by Paulette Hadnagy, Giorgio and Sebastian, both professional photographers, Pino, an architect and Marco a member of previous working committee of Auroville, of various festivals in and around Auroville.

Giorgio's pictures on Edayanchavadi, Kuilapalayam and Sanjeev Nagar, Marco's on Edayanchavadi and Pino on Irumbai and other symbolic images were displayed at the exhibition.

A Kali idol smeared with vermilion and red, the painted trunk of a temple elephant, paintings on a temple wall, people dancing with neem leaves, fire walking and huge cut outs of goddesses were on display.

On the concluding day of the exhibition, videos were being presented--two by Luigi (Edayanchavadi festival and Pongal kolams), who works at the Auroville website; one by Basil (Sanjeev Nagar festival), a professional; and a last one by Raman, Tamil Aurovilian serving in the present working committee.

According to Paulette, who put together the exhibition, "One day, I showed up at the Edayanchavadi festival, and it was so powerful that after a few hours I had to leave... I had been living side-to-side with that reality for over three decades - and understood nothing! Walking on fire; pulling tractors and cars with butcher's hooks in one's flesh; sticking long metal bars in one's check; being hanged on poles; fixing needles all over.

The absence of male deities is another striking feature.

Apart from the ancient Shiva Irumbai temple, all shrines and temples here are consecrated to a Goddess that in her varied forms is Durga, Kali, Mariamman, Bhairavi. Trees have red and ochre marks. Even termite mounds are worshipped as Angalamman.

Giorgio said he wanted to present the photographs of the village festivals to villagers for free. "Back home in Italy it is not possible to present anything for free like this. But I presented VCDs to the panchayat leaders and they were happy," said the 68-year-old photographer.

The exhibition also served as a meeting point between Aurovilians and the people from surrounding villages.

Recommended for you