Theyyam

April 26, 2014
gloriaku
Documentary, Photo-Story
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  • In this world the sacred meets the profane, the gods decent on Earth to listen to their beloved people, and the mysticism is born far away from hum of crowded cities in the purity of the woodlands.
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  • "Theyyam turns the world upside down" says a performer. In the land dominated by the caste system, where once the poor and untouchable were even refused to enter the temples, Theyyam is a cry for justice. And the cry so loud that it continues to scare even the highest caste of Brahmins.
  • Theyyam is a worship of masses, emerged as an answer to their plights and misstreatment. Since only the "untouchables" have the right to perform the rites, Theyyam elevates the poorest almost to the level of the gods. It's a reminder that god is everywhere, not only in splendid temples, but also sacred forests, not only in the consecrated priests but in a heart of every single person.
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  • Theyyam changes with every year, it alters with each avatar, no two acts are the same. It's not a theatrical performance but an evolving entity. The pantheon of Theyyam gods is countless, the same as the number of problem it addresses.
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Living the Love – Documentary about Thaipusam

February 28, 2014
gloriaku
Documentary, Film, Video
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thaipusam red 2 def 4

 

Every religion has its culture of atonements and vows. Bigger the wish or deeper the gratitude, more eager is the follower to undertake an arduous and grueling journey. A Christian would walk miles on his knees out of faith. A Buddhist would prostrate and crawl on her stomach to gain her inner peace. A Muslim would self-flagellate to convey his sorrow while a Hindu would renounce the things she loves most out of devotion. But some take it even further.

Piercing the body out of faith is a custom in most of the older religions. Though it may induce fear, doubt and anxiety, it is also associated with a certain sense of mysticism and spirituality. I witnessed Thaipusam – the magical Hindu festival where devotees in a state of trance, painlessly carry offerings and symbols of faith in the form of heavy burdens (milk pots, kavadi, karagam) and/or have a range of intriguing attachments hooked to their body. But beyond the images of unbelievable crowds and fanfare, I also witnessed love, trust and devotion merging into an expression of faith through self-sacrifice. For many, Thaipusam is all about the flourish and the obscure customs. For many tourists, it is the defining evidence of the unique multi-cultural life in Malaysia. For many amateur photographers, it’s one of those places where you capture that ‘one’ unforgettable picture.

For me it’s a story of love. I decided to capture this event through the eyes of a couple – a, married childless couple who apart from their love for their God have been loving each other for 9 long years. It’s a personal story and a personal journey…

karagam red 2 def

kavadi red 2 def

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Greatest thanks to the people without whom the production of this video wouldn’t be possible: Malliga, Murugan, Paulius, Sayan, Chris, Ragu and Durai.

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// Director/DP/Editor: Gloria Kurnik

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// Camera : Canon 7d, Canon 5d Mark II
// Lenses : Canon 24mm 1.4, Canon 50 1.8
// Editing/Grading : Premiere Pro
// Music : Karma Groove from jewelbeat.com

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For postcards and posters, check out the project on behance.

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