Project Description

Ancient ritual in a sea port
Photographs by Balamurugan

Kulasekharapatnam, situated in present day Thoothukudi District of Tamil Nadu, was an active sea port of the Sangam period. This port was contemporaneous to the existence of Kollam, a Chera Port. Kollam served the Pandyas on the west coast while Kulasekharapatnam served them on the east coast, connecting them to Ceylon and the pearl fisheries in the Gulf of Mannar facing the Tirunelveli Coast. Kulasekharapatnam derives its name from the pandyan ruler Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I. The three hundred year old Mutharamman temple in Kulasekharapatnam is known for the grand dussehra festival. During this annual festival, devotees from various parts of Tamil Nadu throng the temple to offer special prayers, and on the last day, Soorasamharam, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil and is the highlight of 10 day festival, is performed at the beach. On this day, the Devotees who observed a fast for 41 days, dress like God/ Goddess, beggers, etc., and march towards the temple, and in a state of trance, they move around the temple complex. More than 1.5 million people gather to celebrate this festival, held on a new moon day.

Photography © Bala Murugan / 35 mm digital camera

Bala Murugan is a native of Tuticorin, with 25 years of experience in the field of photography. He has indulged in the fields of wedding photography, street photography and photojournalism. His career includes a stint as reporter at Sun TV. Balamurugan is involved in regional efforts aimed at educating and promoting young photographers.