Photo Book

War Wedding Widows

The Ancient Dravidian culture of South India included distinct, yet similar traditions and practices, intensely followed by usually small but tight groups. Rituals vary drastically from region to region, even though elements such as characteristics of Gods, sacrifices, and themes of violence and love are present throughout the land. Typically, a certain tradition was carried forward by a single tribe, before the arrival of outside influences diluted the tribal system and led to an intermixing of identity. Some practices, however, have remained virgin, at least in their essence; still being carried out with the primordial passion of the Ancient Dravidians. The Koothantavar cult is one such ancient Tamil folklore tradition that venerates Aravan, a deity of Third Genders.


Photographers over the years have tended to be graphic when dealing with subjects that have taboos attached to them, in many cases sexualising the subject to an extent of almost obliterating the other aspects of the personality or the topic being dealt with. Abul Kalam Azad is involved in the documentation of the Koothantavar traditions – he is not a condescending witness who offers his sympathy. With digital lo-fi and analog cameras, the photographers creates images of the annual Koothantavar festival and its participants, leading to an intimate and organic body of work, which will be published in a fully illustrated 250 pages photo book.