DVD – (78 minutes, 1976)
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Price: $195.00 + shipping and handling
Part One provides the historical background for the annual Chittirai festival in the South Indian city of Madurai. With tales from medieval Tamil poems, and paintings and sculptures from local temples, the film illustrates how the city, the main temple, the goddess Minakshi and the god Sundareshvara have evolved, and how the reenactment of the marriage of the god and goddess has become the most important annual festival of Madurai. The film shows the basic process of exchange between the temple deities and their worshippers and the importance of festivals in reestablishing cosmic order. The film also illustrates the ways in which kings, priests, and lay people contribute to the definitions and redefinitions of the festival’s many layers of meaning.
Part Two places the viewer in the midst of the annual Chittirai festival, providing an intimate picture of the day-and-night proceedings of the nineteen-day festival. The film shows brahman priests tracing the initial sacred diagram on the temple floor, the colorful reenactment of the goddess’s coronation and marriage, the circumambulation of the medieval city by deities in giant carts, a neighboring god’s journey to Madurai, and a cult initiation and spirit possession, as the festival unites gods and humans from all walks of life. Through interviews with participants, the film gives an unusual glimpse of the continually-changing patterns of festival celebration.