Having attended Pepita’s lecture on “Ritual as Continuity” as part of the LILA PRISM Lecture Series last year, the very mention of Kaapi LILA with her this year got my mind racing with fervent enthusiasm through the visions and memories of her lecture, and the much-needed and opportune possibility for extending this dialogue over through the format of Kaapi LILA where one gets to engage in a more intimate and intense one-on-one, shorn of formalities and barriers, and that too in a space like Nasheman. With this keen anticipation I looked forward to a gripping evening replete with awe and intrigue, and Oh, it did deliver!
In the midst of my monotonous modern life (essentially my 10-6 job about which I have mixed feelings), last Sunday for Kaapi LILA at Nasheman, I met a girl in her 20s, a teacher of literature in English and a researcher at Sahapaedia, an online encyclopedia of Indian arts and culture. She told me about a month long workshop where you had to practice sensing your feet, and some more about the organisers or founders. She mentioned George Gurdjieff, the Armenian spiritual thinker who brought Einnegram, the Sufi symbol of transformation, to the West from the Naqshbandi order.
“She binds a large part of Malabar together; that, there is no doubt.” She is Annapoorneswari, alias Amma, goddess and mother of the people of North Kerala. In the seventh lecture of the PRISM Series 2014, photographer and writer Pepita Seth brought the focus on Kerala, and the Theyyam rituals associated with the worship traditions of Annapoorneswari, to unravel yet another face of culture as continuity. Through her experience of over three decades in the southern state, Pepita Seth could present how some of our oldest traditions, at the crossroads of religion, social order and pre-Hindu rituals, can highlight another model of governance, ancestral yet urgently relevant in today’s world.