Sunset. Most visitors to the Atiratram arrive at this time. For 12 days, the rice paddy becomes a temple of sorts, attracting the pious and the curious alike. After work, families come and walk around the ritual ground. They move pradakshinam, always keeping the altar and the priests inside to their right.
Chanting for Rudra during the “flow of milk” offering on the altar’s northern wing. This is one of several moments when the interplay between this ancient Vedic liturgy and modern Hinduism comes into bold relief. While the praise of Rudra is chanted by the priest inside, women on the outside spontaneously praise Shiva with their own mantras: “OM NAMO SHIVAYA…”
After taking darshan, devotees bow low before the ritual enclosure.
Finn chats with Tottam Krishnan Nambudiri, one of the Samavedic priests, across the bamboo divider that separates the real, mundane world from the sacralized space where the ritual takes place.