"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

religion

Through Smoke And Fire

A procession of crosses emerges from the smoke and explosive percussion of festal firecrackers.
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Picture taken outside Santa Cruz Basilica, Fort Cochin


Northern Exposure: Part 7

Picture taken at the Rumtek Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Sikkim.
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Covering All Bases

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Kerala vendors of devotional art cater for all local demand:
Islāmic, Hindu and Christian.

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Preparing for a Feast: Sacred

Today is the Feast of St Joseph.

Late on Thursday evening, a friend took me on his motorbike to St Anthony’s Church, Kannamaly – a quiet semi-rural backwater of Cochin –

Where preparations for the annual festival involve the entire community.

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A time of preparation, quiet meditation and devotion.

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Look To Your Laurels

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The procession has reached St Anthony’s chapel.

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The garlanded statue of its patron saint is displayed.

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But St Anthony is not the only bearer of garlands.

A few chosen men are sporting laurels of pastelled flowers and richly coloured capes:

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The influence of western Mediterranean Catholicism, which came to Kerala in the seventeenth century, along with Portuguese military conquest.

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A markedly different style to the two thousand year-old, Syrian Christian community of Kerala,

whose rites and vestments are close to those of the Orthodox Church.

And their liturgy, until very recently, still celebrated in Aramaic.

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Strike Up The Band!

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The sound of fire-crackers and drums was unmistakable.

Another festival had started.

This time it was celebrating the patron saint of the small chapel at the end of my lane:

St Anthony of Padua.

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We emerged from the house in time to follow the sound of music –

A fusion of Tijuana brass and Dravidian percussion.

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Fr. Martin, our local Catholic priest, walks in the heart of the procession.

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Men wait their turn for the honour of carrying the statue of Saint Anthony bearing the Christ Child.

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The drum beats intensify.

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The perfectly synchronised, varying and complex rhythms are intensely powerful.

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The procession stops at intervals, allowing the drummers to perform special sequences in well-rehearsed formations.

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Once again, I find myself blinking back tears of sheer joy and excitement.

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