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KERALA

Of Gods and Men

Photos by Jonathan Watts
Foreword by Laurent AUBERT

Johnathan Watts’ incredible photographs take us right into the fascinating universe of Hindu rituals in Kerala and reflect the richness and diversity of this colourful South Indian state.  Far from the usual clichés, we see a complex society in constant evolution instead, one that is searching for a balance between tradition and modernity, as well as earthly and spiritual needs.  Over the course of several ethnographic missions and with the help of a Keralite friend, the photographer had the opportunity to attend annual celebrations where men pray to the gods to ward off epidemics, obtain abundant harvests or to alleviate financial problems and cure sterility.  He has been able to capture the contrasting emotions of light and shadows, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, fire and water; he also demonstrates with sensitivity the cohesive social roles these temple festivals play, where humble and noble castes intermingle.  In these moments of meditation and explosive joy, in amongst disguised and costumed artists, the villagers are overcome by music and dance, offerings and blessings, and are in communion with their gods.

Publisher : Editions 5 Continents, 2004. Collection Musée d'ethnographie Genève.

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