There are many intriguing religious festivals in India, and the same holiday is often celebrated in unique ways depending on local traditions. The Dussehra Festival at Kulasekarapattinam is a 12-day Shakti festival that looks and feels like a wild carnival to outsiders. Millions of devotees and spectators swarm the small port town of Kulasekarapattinam where thousands done elaborate costumes to assume the form of the goddess Kali. Others dress as other dieities as well as gypsies, kings, or queens. Various dance and music troops provide entertainment and temporary shops are also popular attractions.

The devotees who wear costumes seek offerings from the public to deposit them in the temple at the end of celebrations. Yet taking the form of Kali for the Dussehra Festival is not an act of playing dress up. Tradition requires one to observe a 41-day fast before they can change into Kali’s appearance. This transformation enables devotees to transcend and conquer their personal demons of pain, suffering and life challenges.

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The festival begins on the new moon and ends with a theatrical recreation of the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahishasura. This ceremony is culminated with a night of trance, of chaos, and spiritual cleansing. A beautiful new video released by Virtual Bharat captures the wild energy, the wholehearted devotion and chaotic beauty of the festival.

Watch the video below (turn on closed captioning to see subtitles):

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