If I understand it correctly, Valaikuppa is the formal name, and Poochutal is the informal name for a ceremony I attended in September. It’s a ceremony to bless a pregnant mother and her child and to ensure a safe birth. That mother would be half of a pair of Indian friends I have that I met in Costa Rica a few years back. Kartik and Rupa had bailed from NYC just about the time I had and are also now living in the Pacific Northwest.
I usually shoot black and white, and have seen some stunning monochrome work done in India by one of my photographic idols, Sebastiao Salgado. But this ceremony was just begging for color. I have to admit that I just love how the Canon 50mm/1.2 renders elements of the scene. It just has a way of making images look lush. The 5D MkII was good also and does a great job with color images, but the focusing system, well, it’s just lacking. But, since rapid shooting typically isn’t what I do with that camera, it hasn’t been much of an issue. I did miss focus on quite a few shots and think the focusing system in the MkIII would really have come in handy.
Back to the event. It involves only women, a black sari to ward off the evil eye, vermillion, rose petals, some oil, and a lot of bangles. Let’s take a look…
First comes the super-hero-like-magical-sari, which I must say, is really beautiful, and quite aggravating to those evil-eye slingers.
Now the fun starts. A large procession of women line up to fingerpaint Rupa. Gorgeous vermillion!
Then rose petals into the hair. That’s a cool thing to do no matter what culture.
Next came the oil. I’m not sure what it was, but it was fragrant. Downside is that some woman used the same finger to apply the vermillion and the oil, which resulted in things getting a bit messy…
I think the vermillion was only supposed to be on her forehead, but there was by now plenty on her neck. At this point I think Rupa said “Hey! let’s take the fingerpainting down a notch!”
And then come the bangles! Lots and lots of bangles. A banglefest. Bangletopia. Bangle uber alles. Bangle… ok, I’ll stop.
How about those saris? Stunning!
Then came out a dish of some concoction, which I think was probably some sort of oil. Chanting and singing accompanied this.
So, here she is in all her vermillion-oil-rose-petal glory. I like it. At this point she walked by and I said under my breath “Pssst! Hey, you have something on your face!” which elicited a look of “Keep quiet or you’ll be getting some bangles where you don’t want them!”
Are you kidding me? Look at these two. The term gorgeous baby come to mind?? The kid is going to be a stunner, no doubt.
I love these kind of events. I don’t know much more than what I read up on the ‘net then experienced, but the whole thing was a heartwarming event with family and friends and I was honored to attend.