ON a tree-lined stretch of Edayanchavadi Road, between Pondicherry city and Auroville, is where the much-misunderstood Indian philosophy of tantra is celebrated in its true spirit, year after year. In its fourth edition, Tantrotsav takes place at Kalarigram, an offshoot of the Hindustan Kalari Sangam in Kozhikode, which trains men and women in the martial art form of kalaripayattu. In the nine days leading up to Mahashivarathri (March 7), the centre transforms into a hub to explore and understand what tantra is all about—through workshops, theatre and yoga—says Lakshmanan Gurukkal, who heads Kalarigram.
For participants, tantra is a philosophy that celebrates the divine love of lord Shiva and goddess Shakti, or the union of the masculine and feminine energies. “The festival is truly an utsav (celebration),” says Paarvathi Om, a volunteer, adding that it is an opportunity to interact with experts who’ve been practicing tantra in their daily lives.
The festival attempts to make the ancient philosophy more accessible, by encouraging participation at the daily satsangs. Participants discuss tantra and its manifestation in art, Ayurveda, architecture and healing (7 pm). There are cultural performances, too, including theyyam, Odissi, Carnatic music and ottanthullal (8 pm). Bharatnatyam dancer Rajashree Warrier is holding an ongoing workshop on manodharma this year. Kalari classes are held every morning and evening, at six. The final day is chock-a-bloc with events, including an interesting demonstration where gymnastics and parkour meet kalaripayattu.
At Yogishananda Peetham, Edayanchavadi Road, till March 7. Details: 0413 2622091
— Olympia Shilpa Gerald