Meena Bharani: Red Devotion

K. R. Sunil captures the emotions, intensity, and the frenzied atmosphere of Kodungallur’s Meena Bharani in his series of photographs.

K. R. Sunil

Bharani is a folk ritual that commemorates the tale of a godly revenge, observed annually in the town of Kodungallur, Kerala. Every year in the month of Meenam, devotees flock to the temple of Kodungallur in large numbers and use harsh cuss words to appease the goddess. In a state of trance, men and women, immersed in devotion to Goddess Kali, subject themselves to self-flagellation. The ambience is one of fierceness and exaltation.

The frenzied atmosphere marked by blood, sweat, tears and wailing, intense forms of expressions and significant departures from human mannerisms in the otherwise divine air constitutes a unique sight, year after year. I have been documenting Bharani for over two decades, a folk festival native to me. What I began with a basic film camera has transformed into digital today. Yet witnessing it and keeping track of the recurring faces continues to intrigue me. The occasion evokes a rare atmosphere in the whole town, offering invaluable contributions to my stories.

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About: K. R. Sunil is a photographer of people’s lives, and a writer. He is based in Kerala, growing up around the port city of Kodungallur among legends and tales of the ancient city of Muziris. His recent works have explored the decrepit port town of Ponnani (Vanishing Life-Worlds, 2016), seafarers of Malabar (Manjukkar 2018), and the many ponds in Kerala (Chronicle of a Disappearance, 2017). Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.



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