PICTURES AND CAPTIONS
1 Permanent temple in the fields. The reed construction does not only indicate that the community is fairly poor, but rather that it has preserved a very ancient type of construction
2 Inside view of the permanent temple. Layout, outfit and relation of this permanent temple to the village history were not studied.
3 Harvested paddy fields and village
4 One of the small village entrances. These places are not just passages, they are assembly spaces for the villagers.
5 The temporary temple construction in the paddy fields. Note the poles brought by visiting villages.
6 The primary thing of the ceremony consists in setting up the bundle of rice stalks in the centre of the temporary temple. Incense is burnt to initially characterise the place as a holy place.
7 The marker consists of of three bundles of seven stalks. All are bundeled to form one unit. The earth is left at roots of the grass stalks. The whole is placed in the centre of a more evolved demarcation which is found inside and outside Indian houses, a demarcation made daily with riceflower -
8 Women taking part in the ceremony arrive at the permanent sanctuary. They bring the materials needed for the puja carrying all on their heads. Remarkable is their great elegance. Everybody is neatly dressed. Note: we are at a very simple rural festival amidst the ricefields!
9 Materials are prepared for the puja. Evidently a fairly complex ceremony of evolved Hindu type has accumulated to the primary demarcation rite related to agriculture.
10 The assembled material culture can tell us fairly clearly about the origins of the various elements of the ceremony.
11 The forked branch has been brought by the headman. It seems to have a meaning of symbolic support in regard to the rice bundle. At the same time the four fire candelabres of clay are set up. They are related by white strings on three sides defining a square with some sort of an entrance side about 10 cm above ground.
12 As soon as the forked branch is set up, the rice bundle is covered with white cloth, very likely alluding to the evolved anthropomorphism of the Lakshmi deity.
13 This picture shows the Lakshmi bundle 'clothed' by white cloth and behind - if seen from the open front - the forked branch. It is possible that some directional implication is meant.
14 In the upper part the rice bundle is bound to the forked branch with a very thin string. Since the latter is manipulated by the headman of the village, the Lakshmi ricebundle by women it is possible that male female polarity is involved.
15 Mainly young and elderly women sit around the temple in small and tighly close groups
16 The spectators attentively follow the processes in the temple.
17 Evidently what is going on here is not just a casual 'happening', a 'theatre', a social event with aesthetic characteristics, it is something that - in this small and well defined world of a village and its related communities - is of a fundamental nature. It includes existential categories, as well as aesthetic, social and highest ontological values. All is still one. Very likely this is the main reason why everybody is strongly involved.
18 The priest obtains his "crown". Note that this crown is not of gold, silver or diamonds, obtained from some far away jeweller and his production chain. It is gained from some palm trees of the village, and it is made by some villagers themselves. But it is evident that this crown has a much higher value than any dieadem of any global royalty. It is freshly natural and pure, at the same time has the greatest ancienty possible: it is part of the most ancient things man ever made with his own hands and with a very primary sense for beauty.
19 The same "crown" is made for the priestess. In contrast to her husband she wears a cloth around her head (like the deity Lakshmi) and the crown is fixed on top of this white and decorated cloth. There is a strong feeling in this village of these values present. Evidently they are true, since they do not manifest themselves through any long and miserable chain of exploitation, but through age old and deeply humanistic reflection.
20 Priest and priestess are now ready for the procession. The ricebundle, resp. the deity Lakshmi has also been decorated with the sun like crown. Since Lakshmi is considered as the deity of wealth, money is fixed to the bundle.
21 Priest and priestess seen in front view. Their heads are decorated by sunlike crowns. They hold the 'thali', the metal plate, on which the Lakshmi deity is kept. The deity too is decorated with the same sunlike symbol. The 'thali' plate contains various offerings, some of them are also decorated with the sunlike symbol. In spite of the simple materials used, the couple expresses a great dignity based on a locally rooted, deeply humanistic truth.
22 The altar of the temporary temple is now deprived of its most important symbol, the figure of the Lakshmi deity. The forked branch is still there and seems to guard the place. Note that the forked branch has kept its decoration with the sunlike symbol.
23 The procession is opened by a short interval where the deota and his young boy enter into action. The event is clearly an accumulation from outside. It is not an inherent part of the local ceremony.
24 Musicians accompany the whole ceremony
25 Peoples from several related villages of the region come to visit the festival. They bring with them their emblems and also some mobile sanctuaries of their own villages.
26 These mobile sanctuaries are richly decorated with specific cloths colours and other specific elements
27 By bringing their own 'deities' to the festival and following the local Lakshmi deity in procession, these regional villages express their loyalty and friendship to the celebrating village.
28 The high poles too are emblems brought to the present village to honour it and its deity and to express loyalty and friendship.
29 In the warm evening light priest and priestess carry the Lakshmi deity through the village, from gate to gate, where, at each one of the gates a short ceremony is held.
30 Each house erects a sacred gate across the village street, either with bananaplants, palmleaves or wooden poles. Often the gates are decorated with textiles and sacred images. On the ground elaborate ornaments with ricepowder are made, a small offering table is set up and many offerings are grouped around.
31 Here the inhabitants of the adjacent house await the priest and priestess and the Lakshmi deity. Many offerings have been prepared. When the procession arrives the priest will perform a small ceremony together with the people of the district.
32 Priest and priestess on the way during the procession. As they approach the families and their altars, some often get highly exstatic. They try to touch the deity or decorate priest and priestess with flower-guarlands and other offerings
33 Family and relatives waiting in front of a street altar for the priest and the priestess. All kinds of offerings are arranged around the altar which is placed on top of a ornamental rice powder marking in the middle of the village street.
34 A baldachin of white cloth is held over the deity and over priest and priestess
35 In some phases women accompany the procession wearing pots on their heads used as burning oil lamps.
36 This picture shows two other gates and an altar on the main street of the village. The gate in front is made with palm leaves.
37 Towards the end the procession is reduced in size. Most of the inhabitants have returned to their houses, where the festive atmosphere continues in the smaller circle of the family.
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