Saturday, 5 May 2012

Suchet Suwanmongkol: Theyyam



Here's a short video trailer featuring Suchet Suwanmongkol who was recently in Kerala to document the ritual of Theyyam, amongst other of the area's cultural and religious events.

Suchet is not only a well established photographer, well known for his photography in his country of Thailand and beyond, but he's also the owner of the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi hotel in Chiang Mai, which he painstakingly built in an effort to restore and preserve the region's Lanna culture.

His travel photography website features galleries from Myanmar to the depths of Papua New Guinea, from India to Tibet and from Venice and Cinque Terre to China's interior. He also has an impressive portfolio of fashion photographs.

He has another website SUWANMONGKOL, which I believe is the most recent, and that also features a number of his galleries.

Theyyam is a Hindu ritual exclusive to North Malabar in Kerala, India. Suchet (as I did as well) photographed the Theyyam rituals in Kannur. This is a cult going back several thousand years, with ancient traditions, rituals and customs, and it includes all the castes and classes of the Hindu religion in this region.

The performers of Theyyam belong to a lower caste, and this in itself is unique since only in Kerala do the upper caste Brahmins and the lower caste share important roles in religious rituals.

I am told that the final version of Theyyam ought to be finalized soon, and naturally I will bring it to you on this blog as soon as it is.