Catchment

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Click to zoom. Folks going to Kali temple. They’re carrying offerings of sprouted grains on their heads.
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Zoomed out to show the traditional water catchment / reservoir (நடு முதலைக் குலம்) on outskirts of Madurai. The above procession is at the foot of the prominent rock hill in the distance; you can hardly make out without zooming in.

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I caught this procession of folks in the distance, on the way back from a visiting a remote rural temple. They are going to the local Kali temple. Usually this is done on every powarnami (full moon day). But this one is special, as it comes right after Navaratri celebrations. They’re carrying mulai-paari (முளை பாரி; pots with sprouted grains; click on the photo to zoom in) on their heads, which after offering to the Goddess, they’ll let it float off in the water. It’s a way of propitiating the Goddess (a way of giving thanks and seeking blessings) for the fertility of the land and for the upcoming harvest cycle (which happens in Pongal time). Though this photo was taken in September end, the mulai-paari ritual is an important part of the monsoon festival, known as Aadi-Perukku which occurs on Aadi 18th (around August 2nd).

The above is a traditional water catchment, eco-friendly (as opposed to today’s trend of uprooting the local ecosystem by building dams). Stretches for a few kilometers. You can gauge how old it is from the name itself – “nadu muthalai kulam” (“நடு முதலைக் குலம்” – “lake where crocodiles are found in the middle”). There are no crocodiles today, nor do I think there were any even in the last 50 years. Considering that this season the monsoons have been meagre in Tamil Nadu, catchments like this are their (and our) life bread and butter.

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