MUKHAMUKHAM – Thrissur

“I already like the town”, said Project 365 photographer Shiv Kiran, as soon as we stepped down from the train. The other team members Arnav Rastogi and Bhagyashri Patki nodded their heads in affirmation. It was as if all the tiredness of the long journey from Tiruvannamalai to Thrissur had vanished by the mere sight of this ancient town. The following day 12th November 2014, Project 365 presentation was to be held at Government Fine arts college, Thrissur. This event is all the more important for EtP, as the next phase of the project 365 is planned to documenting Muziris, the ancient seaport and urban center that existed from around 1st century AD.

Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi

Thrissur, popularly known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala has many other important facades. Synonymous with the world famous and spectacular Pooram Festival, Thrissur is the abode of several prominent cultural centres including the Kerala Kalamandalam, Sahitya Academy and Sangeetha Nataka Academy. Thrissur has an extraordinarily rich past as well as a vibrant present. From ancient times, this district with its cultural heritage and archaeological wealth has played a significant role in the political history of South India. Many rulers and dynasties beginning with the Zamorins of Kozhikode, Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Europeans including the Dutch and the British have had a hand in moulding the destiny of this region. Raja Rama Varma popularly known as Sakthan Thampuran is the architect of the present Thrissur town. Thrissur has a large number of well-known temples including the Vadakkumnathan temple, Thiruvambadi Sri Krishna temple and Paramekkavu temple, as well as two famous churches, the Our Lady of Lourdes Syro-Malabar Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral and Our Lady of Dolours Syro-Malabar Catholic Basilica.

Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi
Vadakumnathan temple / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi

We checked into YMCA where our stay had been organised by the college. The other two project 365 photographers Biju Ibrahim and Iqbal MK were to join us the next day (12th November). Project 365 Director Photographer Abul Kalam Azad had given us interesting places to visit in Thrissur and the Vadakumnathan topped the list. So we decided to go there. What was inside took our breath away. This temple is a classic example of the architectural style of Kerala and has monumental towers on all four sides and also a Kuttambalam. Mural paintings depicting various episodes from Mahabharata can be seen inside the temple. The shrines and the Kuttambalam display vignettes carved in wood. The temple, along with the mural paintings, has been declared as a National Monument by India under Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.  According to popular local lore, this is the first temple built by Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. This place of worship is now a living museum of our ancient culture. In our culture, art is a public property, owned and protected by people. The consciousness of the artists is collective. There are no signatures that claims any ownership.

Photography (C) Shiv Kiran
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Shiv Kiran
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Shiv Kiran
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Shiv Kiran

Project 365 aims at collectively creating a locally placed permanent space for photo art that portrays contemporary culture and lifestyle with its profound mystical roots. In present context, these kind of initiatives are rare and without any protocol to follow, Project 365 is evolving its own values, practices and ethics. Prof. Kavitha Balakrishnan, Fine Arts college, rightly said, “It is a collective responsibility”.

Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi
Thrissur Government Fine Arts College / Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi

On 12th November, at 2.00 pm, MUKHAMUKHAM event started. The ambiance of the fine arts college was another dimension that added much value to the MUKHAMUKHAM presentation. The presence of sculptures all around added to the rawness of the old building. Prof. Lekha, Principal of the college inaugurated the event with a welcome speech. Prof. Kavitha Balakrishnan introduced the team. Ms. Tulsi swarna lakshmi, Manager, Project 365 introduced the project with the audience. About hundred and twenty students participated in the event.

Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Bhagyashri Patki / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Bhagyashri Patki / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Bhagyashri Patki / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Arnav Rastogi / EtP Archives
Photography (C) Bhagyashri Patki / EtP Archives

Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi

14th November 2014

Bangalore

Dosa, a photograph and an esoteric zen master

Gaundaramma / Lo-fi photography series (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives

Gaundaramma / Lo-fi photography series (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives

Two days back Abul Kalam Azad showed me a very short interesting video and photographs of Mookupodi Siddhar he had shot and asked me to find his name, detail of birth place, etc. My birth village is near Rajapalayam and Abul thought I would be in a better position to find. The search on net didn’t reveal much. I recollected a conversation that we had a few months earlier with a local person who had traveled with Mookupodi Siddhar to his birth village. This conversation happened between Abul and a local person at a dosa shop in Girivalam which is our regular breakfast spot. The shop keeper, a Gaunder lady is very welcoming and her home-made chutnies are a delicacy. This is also a hub were Saddhus eat and is one of the reason Abul goes there for breakfast as part of his ongoing project ‘unknown gods’ (Agni Shylam series). Today morning, we decided to go the long stretch along the girivalam path to have breakfast at the dosa shop. I noticed Abul was talking with somebody, but didn’t keep track of the conversation, until he alerted me and said, “This is Mookupodi Siddhar’s son. Get his details”. I was surprised by this unexpected flow of information coming our way for Project 365.

The people of Tiruvannamalai call him ‘Mookupodi siddhar’. This name was given to him as he was snorting tobacco (mookupodi) everytime. The sadhu community and devotees in Tiruvannamalai has this practice of giving a name based on their physical or emotional attributes, outstanding behavior traits, etc. A few people start calling by that name and eventually their real name is forgotten. Niether the sadhus nor the visitors are interested in revealing their real names. Their past is left behind, often without any mention. Occasionally, the sadhus do visit their family. During rare occasions, a member from their family might come to visit them. Some mystics are permanently here, whilst others travel to other pilgrim places. There is a strong community fold and news about each others’ whereabouts and well being is communicated with everybody else. Offlate, there has been one such topic that seems to be the subject of every conversation…. Mookupodi Siddhar and his unfathamable zen master practice and activities. He beats people with his lathi… which is in a way is his blessing as well his teaching. Every morning, several people gather near the Ner Annamalai temple to get beating from the mostly silent Mookupodi siddhar. They wait, some times hours, to get his dharshan and blessings. Alongside, the public will also keep watch. There are times, he would ask a certain visitor to pull out all his money and put in his towel. HE would then wrap this towel with money in his hip. There are certain days when several bundles hang in his body. At a later time, he would give this money to somebody else who is courageful with him. The sadhus think that his actions are strange, esoteric and at the same time shakes the shackles of the people.

Mookupodi SidDhar / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives
Mookupodi Siddhar / Lo-fi Photography series (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives

Mookupodi siddhar has been in Tiruvannamalai for almost twenty years now. He has become popular only during the last 8 years. He must be in his early 80s. A few months ago, he asked one of the local devotee to accompany him for a short trip. Soon, they both embarked on a journey to East Rajapalayam, near Salem. Near the lake, at Shivan Kovil street, he asked the taxi to stop in front of a house…. and waited. A man in his fiftees, came out of the house, looked at the old man in the car and recognised him as his father….. he asked Mookupodi Siddhar to to come inside the house… The locals informed that this was the ancestral house of Mookupodi Swamy whose birth name was Mottayan Gaunder. Farming is the usual practice of Gaunder community and they are in general powerful landlords. During his young age, Mottayan Gaunder used to spend most his time at the Veerapathiran temple where he served as the priest. He used to tie garlands for the presiding deity. At the age of 25, his mother forced him to marry Chadachi. The couple had a son, Periyaswamy. A little while after Periyaswamy’s birth, Mottayyan Gaunder left his birth village, only to return after twelve years. It was as if he knew what was going to happen. Within few days of his arrival, his wife Chadachi passed away. He stayed there for three months and whilst leaving, he asked his son to come with him. Mookupodi Swamy’s mother refused. She was quoted to have said, “You took that path. Atleast let me have my grand son with me…”. Last year, the villagers urged Periaswamy to do the last Kriyas for his father, as he had not return for a long time. Periyasamy had gone ahead with the kriyas, and was planning for the second year kriya when mookupodi siddhar appeared in front of his house. Periasamy, now in his fifties, with folded hands, requested him to come inside the house, once again. Saying nothing, the Mookupodi Sidhar had continued with his journey.

Periasamy, son of Mookupodi Siddhar / Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives
Periasamy, son of Mookupodi Siddhar / Lo-fi Photography series (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC photo archives

This story that was briefed by the Sadhu who had accompanied Mookupodi Sidhar was confirmed by his son Periaswamy who is right now in Tiruvannamalai visiting his father. “To my father, I am not any different. He is treating me like the way he does you…”. In the backdrop of the ever growing popularity of mookupodu sidhar, this claim by a farmer from the nearby area was received with a lot of speculation by the Sadhu community. However, a photo of young Mottayan Gaunder wearing a white attire like any shaiva saints, mudhra in both the hands and thiruneer in the forehead, which was carried with Periyasamy helped revealing his identity as his son. “I have come to be with him for few days. I have two chidlren, one boy and one girl waiting for me in my village”, said Periyasamy. For Project 365 / EtP, this is an interesting anecdote, protraying the specialness of photographs. The story of a photograph that stands as the only evidence of a family bond of a zen master is indeed an important dimension to capture and preserve. Since Mookupodi Siddhar’s last visit to his birth home, the villagers have geared up. The house which was once fondly called as ‘Mottayan Gaunder’s house’, is being reverred as ‘Swamy’s home’.

Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi

5th November 2014

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis, Korkai and the Cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.

Disclaimer: All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Text research Tulsi Swarna Lakshmi / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com/ FACEBOOK – Project 365

120 years of ‘Christian presence and lifestyle’ in Tiruvannamalai

Christianity in the state of Tamil Nadu, India is believed to be 2000 years old. It possibly was introduced to Tamil Nadu by St. Thomas, the Apostle, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ who landed in Malabar Coast (modern day Kerala) in AD 52. But today, these Saint Thomas Christians or Syrian Christians are found mainly in Kerala. Later the colonial age brought a large number of Portuguese, Dutch, British and Italian Christians to Tamil Nadu. According to 2011 census, the percentage of Christians in Tiruvannamalai District accounted to 2.95% of the total population.

Leo James, Project 365 photographer will be documenting the presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai. Camera always fascinated Leo and he always had the eye of an artist, and immense talent too. Leo enjoyed drawing and painting from a very young age and his father always hoped that he would ultimately opt for a career as an architect. But long before he was done with high school, he knew what he wanted to be for the rest of his life – a photographer. He was first inspired by what he saw in magazines and began by reading up on the art, learning the basics and techniques with the help of books on photography. Leo started following local photographers and photojournalists in his hometown Kollam, making friends, and learning from them whatever he could. After topping his Bachelors in Mass Communication and Video Production from the Kerala University, which also taught photography extensively, he was ready to take on the world. From conceptual works to autobiographical details, Leo experimented with the various realms of picture taking. He shot for events at first to fund his personal projects, maintaining a balance between his commercial work and his own passion, to take pictures of what interested him most as a creative person. Leo did an internship with some of the best advertising photographers in Cochin at that time, and mastered the art of studio photography.

Project 365 photographer Leo James
Project 365 photographer Leo James

While he was contemplating moving to Dubai, he met Abul Kalam Azad, a revered photographer who made a huge impact on him as a person and as an artist. Leo spent some valuable time with Abul, his most admired mentor, as he assisted him with his work and learnt more along the way. Leo currently works in Dubai, on various commercial projects and his portfolio includes industrial photography, products, architecture,events and even portraits. While he is an expert with his planned studio shots that he takes with his digital camera, he also experiments with the analogue medium, shooting with several different cameras and films. Most of Leo’s personal work is hugely autobiographical. It artistically reflects his journey from Kollam to Cochin and to Dubai and all his connections with different people and places, and the experiences he has had in between. Leo’s photos also portray a poignant sensitivity to his subjects, be it mundane objects in someone’s home, a cityscape, a fish market or his ode to an artist. His work also expresses his many moods, sometimes melancholic and sometimes nostalgic, among others.

Arcot Lutheran Church formerly known as the Danish Missionary Church – a church with 150 years of mission in history, was founded in the year 1863 at Melpattambakkam Village, Tamil Nadu, India, by the missionaries of the Danish Missionary Society and now spread over 5 districts of Tamilnadu, and one Pastorate in the State of Puducherry and one at Bengaluru, in the State of Karnataka India with the central administration office located at Cuddalore, Tamilnadu, India.

In 1706 the first missionaries from Halle University, Bartholomew Ziegenbalg & Heinrich Plutcho were sent to India by the Danish King Frederick IV.  The German Missionary Ochs left the Leipzig Mission in 1863 on the question of tolerating caste in the Church and started an Orphanage in Melpattambakkam in South Arcot District, Tamil Nadu.  In 1864 he was accepted by the Danish Missionary Society as their Missionary. The Missionaries started school work. The preaching of the Gospel made them to establish congregations.  It was the Danish Mission Church till 1950 and the Danish Missionaries were the leaders at every stage.  In 1951 a new constitution was introduced and that paved the way for indigenous leadership and the church was named  “The Arcot Lutheran Church”. The Carmel Lutheran Church was established in the year 1890 and the Carmel Lutheran Church was established in the year 1914 in Tiruvannamalai.

Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
ALC, Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Presence of Christianity in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Abandoned church in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Leo James / Image courtesy Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Leo James will be documenting the life, lifestyle, architecture, rituals and customs of Christians in Tiruvannamalai over a year period.

(to be continued)

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Leo James / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Profile of Leo by Ami Gupta / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Life of children

“Why I love to photograph children is because they are so different from adults. Like another species altogether… no complications, no pretenses. What you see is what you get. Till the ways of the world transform them slowly and steadily into people you can’t really decipher”. – Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Ami Gupta, a photographer based in Chennai will be capturing the life of children in Tiruvannamalai. Ami will follow Children from diversified economic, religious and cultural backgrounds and photo-document their life and lifestyle.  She will be using the digital medium and will also experiment with the analogue cameras and techniques during the course of the year. This below interview presents Ami Gupta’s ongoing project in Tiruvannamalai as part of Project 365, the public photo art project initiated by EtP to document the fast changing South Indian culture and contemporary lifestyle.

How and when did your journey as a photographer begin?

Neither through my growing up years, nor through my advertising career as a copywriter, did I ever imagine that I would become a photographer. Someone stole the one and only camera I owned four years ago, and that, was actually the turning point in my life. I decided to buy a new camera, a DSLR and in no time it became my new raison d’être. Everything I saw through the lens seemed magical. Be it a shard of grass, a pattern of light rays, or ice cubes floating lazily in a glass of scotch, everything around became a subject of interest. That’s what photography did to me, made me see the world all over again …never the same.

Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Project 365 photographer Ami Gupta

Early experimenting was a self-learning process. I went on to learn the basics of photography with Mr. Raja Ponsing in Chennai and then began to consider photography as a career option. At first, it was all about ‘making’ pretty pictures, of interesting objects, glorious skies or good-looking places and people. No matter what the subject, my images have always been about what I connect with, in a relationship that is like a quiet underlying bond, using expressions that need no words.

Along with my various random explorations, I started to photograph professionally, mostly interiors and products and children’s portfolios.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to photojournalism and documentary photography. This was a very different genre of work, where beauty in pictures meant something else. What mattered was whether a photo had ‘soul’ or not… From street photography to a more focused approach to storytelling via pictures, I realized that I enjoyed this mode of photography even more. My first works in this realm, ‘Silent screams’ and ‘BuriNazar’ were a part of a group exhibition on Besant Nagar Beach during Art Chennai 2014.

What made you join Project 365? Tiruvannamalai, the temple town is not a particularly spectacular destination for a photographer. What has been your experience so far?

I haven’t traveled much in India as a photographer. As I had mentioned, it’s actually just been 3 years since I took up photography seriously. As a kid yes, I had traveled much. My parents along with their friends would take us to visit one new state in India or hill station every year. As I grew older, there was always work that kept me so busy, and then children… and travel now was all about going to different countries. Thailand, Italy, Turkey, Spain… where should we go next? So many places, so little time. And the ‘so many places’ in India somehow, were never on top of the list.

So when I first heard about Tiruvannamalai, to me it was just a vague town somewhere in Tamil Nadu. With a famous temple.Big Deal. Lots of people come to pray. Ok, so? There’s the Arunachala Hill. I’ve seen bigger, better.

But then Project 365 happened.I decided to take it up just to do something different and experience something new. An unusual project in a place I had never been to. So here I am…

This is the first time I am on a trip to focus on nothing else but ‘making pictures’. And after visiting this temple town just twice, I could tell that something in me has changed. Like I had been drawn to this place for reasons beyond my understanding, as though some mystic force had decided my fate. Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic about it. But yes, I can feel some sort of a ‘peaceful energy’ if I may call it that, with every walk I take, every morning I wake up here, or each time I meet someone new. I don’t even know if I can explain it. I’m looking at life from another perspective now, however far removed from my actual lifestyle it may be.

What is your project plan? How do plan to portray the diversified culture of Tiruvannamalai?

I am right now in the process of spending time with children from different walks of life and different cultural backgrounds. I intend to document their every-day life, religious connections, the festivals they celebrate, where they study, what they play and much more.

As part of Project 365, I will be photo-documenting the life of Virupaksham in Veda patasala, Sri Ramana Ashram.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Virupaksham’ / Life of children / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘virupaksham’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Virupaksham’ / Life of children / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

I will also be documenting few adhoc visuals and anecdotes of children that I come across during my photo shoot… there are many interesting stories and events that I find fascinating.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Vetriselvam’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

Vetriselvam was perched on his father’s bike as I walked by. This was during my walk to the town, a day after Project 365 Samarambam, that was held at Kalai Illam on 15th August 2014. Vetriselvam’s brothers and sisters were curious about my camera and me. They started to pose and I insisted that I want them to just play and continue doing what they do everyday. An ice-cream vendor passed by just then and Vetriselvam’s sister Gayathri looked up at her father with eyes full of longing. He shook his head, while I insisted that I treat them. For a child, happiness is as simple as that. A mango ice stick that has the power to make his or their day. Vetriselvam was in his element. Grinning away non-stop, while Gayathri recited poems and sang songs she’d learnt at school. I was welcome to stay and hang out with them, they offered me the peanuts that grew on their farm and just like that we connected. I will go back and give them these photos. Small moments of pleasure frozen forever. The image shows Vetriselvam after a satisfying ice cream.

Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives
‘Archana and Yuvraj’ / Life of children in Tiruvannamalai / Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives

The above image is of Archana and YuvrajI vividly remember my visit to their home. The farms on either side of the road were glowing, with that healthy sunny green and yellow freshness you see after a bout of rain, and I was loving my walk. It’s strange how you come to meet people in life, and how they leave an impression on you. Like it was meant to be. That’s how I met 11-year old Archana. She was studying, or doing some homework sitting outside the door, as she looked up at me. Of course I wanted to take her picture, so we got chatting, about her school and her little brother and her parents who are farmers, (they grow and sell marigold flowers) She was learning English at school and her handwriting was impeccable. Indoors, a small room cluttered with daily objects surrounded her as she smiled for me. Her brother Yuvraj tried hard to pretend to be writing so that I would take photos of him too. As I looked around at their threadbare belongings, and at the hardship in her parents’ eyes, I ‘felt’ a sense of hope for them. They are giving their very best to their children- an education that is priceless, and the only reason for hope that their lives will change.

Thank you Ami Gupta

(continues)

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365 In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Disclaimer: Image (C) Ami Gupta / Project 365 PUBLIC archives.

All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365

Project 365 initiators and partners

Day 1

P.R.O.J.E.C.T 365

A year-long photomapping of Tiruvannamalai

D.A.Y.  1

“365 NIGHTS AND DAYS” in Tiruvannamalai by photographer Shiv Kiran

Day one / "365 days and nights in Tiruvannamalai" / Image (C) Shiv Kiran / Project 365 Archives
Day one / “365 days and nights in Tiruvannamalai” / Image (C) Shiv Kiran / Project 365 Archives

Photographer Shiv Kiran will be photographing “365 NIGHTS AND DAYS” in Tiruvannamalai using both traditional analog and modern digital medium. Shiv’s interest is multi-folded and includes distant horizons, found objects, every-day ordinary life events etc., He plans to shoot during the night as well morning and present the diversified facets of our ancient town. 

“LIFE OF A LIBRARIAN” by photographer J Jayaraman

Day one / Life of a librarian / Image (C) J Jayaraman / Project 365 archives
Day one / Life of a librarian / Image (C) J Jayaraman / Project 365 archives
JJ Jayaraman, Librarian, Sri Ramana Ashram and a resident of the ashram is documenting ‘his daily life’ using SMART PHONE as part of Project 365. The vibrant scene of the ashram, the animals, the life of inmates, the visiting people etc., will be documented as part of this project titled “LIFE OF A LIBRARIAN”.

 “PHOTO SEVA” by photographer Varun Gupta

Day one / Photo Seva / Image (C) Varun Gupta / Project 365 Archives
Day one / Photo Seva / Image (C) Varun Gupta / Project 365 Archives

Photographer Varun Gupta will be continuing his “photo seva” as part of Project 365. He will be taking Polaroid images of the people visiting Tiruvannamalai. As a gesture of gratitude, he will be gifting them digital images. During Samarambam on August 2014, he started his photo seva in Tiruvannamalai by photographing project 365 team.

For more information about this project, contact EtP at ekalokam@gmail.com / {0} 94879 56405 / {0} 4175 237405

Disclaimer: All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to Project 365 PUBLIC archives. Prior permission is required to reproduce and / or and / or print in any form. 

PROJECT 365 – a 360degrees 365 days photo perambulation of the hill and the symbol

40 photographers document the ‘ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle’ in Tiruvannamalai
August 2014 – July 2015

Project 365 is a PUBLIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ART PROJECT initiated by EtP to photo-document the fast changing ancient culture and contemporary lifestyle of the ancient Tamilakam territory. During the first phase, forty photographers will be documenting the multi-cultural aspects of #Tiruvannamalai, South Indian heritage town over a year period (Aug 2014 – July 2015). This Project is led by contemporary Indian photographer Abul Kalam Azad. FOR MORE PROJECT 365 IMAGES, see #etpproject365. In the next five years, EtP will document the Sangam period ports Muziris, Tindis and the Cauvery basin culture and lifestyle.”

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP

TIRUVANNAMALAI – an ancient South Indian heritage town

Experiments done by the Geological Survey of India revealed that the rock (charnockite) which makes up the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai is older than 3.5 billion years and believed to have formed as a result of massive volcanic eruption. The fertile land around the hill was a highly potential farming land and soon became an important human settlement in South India. Tiruvannamalai is considered to be older than Mathurai (2ndSangam circa 1st century BCE). Many a legend and mythical story of Saiva belief grew around this hill revered as Fire, one of the pancha bhootas (Earth Water Fire Wind and Space Elements).

The first recorded history of the town dates back to the ninth century CE, as seen from Chola inscriptions in the Arunachaleshwara temple which states that the present masonry structure of the ancient temple was built during the same period by the Chola Dynasty (from 850 CE to 1280 CE). The temple, one of the largest in India, is rich in tradition, history and festivals. Hundreds and thousands of small and big Chola period inscriptions, architecture, sculpture and mural art can be found around the whole town. Saint poets like Tirunavukarasar, Appar, Pattinathar and Ramana Maharishi have created historical literature about Tiruvannamalai, the temple and the hill. The town is largely associated with living traditions and beliefs that have been recorded in literary works of outstanding universal significance.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archives

Apart from the Cholas, Tiruvannamalai was ruled by the Pallavas, Hoysalas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, Tipu Sultan and the British. The architecture and art created collectively by the artists’ guilds of yesteryears with the patronage of the perennially warring, but ever culturally united rulers, stand as a museum of our culture and art.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam / Image (C) AKA / EtP Archives

Karthikai Deepam is the most popular festival of Tiruvannamalai and inscriptions indicate that the festival was celebrated as early as the Chola period (3rd to 13th century BCE). As part of the festival, a massive wick is lit in a cauldron, at the top of the Annamalai Hill and to mark the occasion, several thousand people from the neighbouring villages gather. The visually fantastic event also has vibrant village markets and cattle fairs that are increasingly becoming obsolete. Every month during full moon, several thousand pilgrims perambulate around the Arunachala Hill.

Acclaimed photographers like PRS Mani, Dr.T.N. Krishnaswamy, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eliot Elisofon, G Govind Welling and many other known, and unknown photographers have created several bodies of photography works of Tiruvannamalai. The invaluable few works of these eminent photographers are being archived and preserved by Sri Ramana Ashram, Tiruvannamalai.

Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archive
Agni Shylam series / Image (C) AKA / Image courtesy EtP Archives

A pre-existently rich photographic history is presented in recent visual capture technologies. It is also seen to be supported in richly graphic descriptions of Tiruvannamalai’s rich and unparalleled vibrantly alive culturally all-inclusive life. These, and the peculiarly protean genius flowering amidst rural setting, increasingly amenable to international audience encourages EtP to do this long overdue visual mapping and documenting in a contemporary hi-definition documentation of this primordial town. Project 365 – Tiruvannamalai will collectively create and preserve the visual history of the paradigm shift moment of this ancient town.

<to be continued>

Disclaimer: Photography (C) Abul Kalam Azad / Project 365 PUBLIC archives. All rights reserved. All the images published in this blog is copyrighted property of the author and belongs to PROJECT 365 PUBLIC ARCHIVES. Profile of Shiv Kiran by Ami Gupta / EtP. Reprinting / publishing rights reserved by the author and EtP (PROJECT 365 public archives). Prior permission is required for reproduction / re-publishing. For more information about Project 365, contact EtP at {0}4175 237405 / {0}94879 56405 / ekalokam@gmail.com / FACEBOOK – Project 365