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Mark Ulyseas – Blood Ritual

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Blood Ritual, photographs by Mark Ulyseas

Ulyseas has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry, which was relaunched as Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in March 2017. His is author of three books – RAINY: My Friend & Philosopher, Seductive Avatars of Maya: Anthology of Dystopian Lives, and, In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey. www.amazon.com  www.liveencounters.net/markulyseas

Legend has it that a famous priest, Kadamattathu Kathanar aka Reverend Kadamattom of the St. George Orthodox Syrian Church, situated close to Muvattupuzha town (forty five minute drive from Kochi in the Indian State of Kerala) learnt sorcery when he was held captive by the Mala Aryas (a cannibal tribe) that lived in the area at that time. This church was built in the 9th century and is considered one of the oldest churches in India. Apparently, the priest escaped from captivity and took refuge in the church. The enraged cannibals created a storm with their magic and scarred the church walls with lightening but they couldn’t recapture the priest.

The well next to the church is believed to be a passage used by the priest to enter and exit the church whenever he embarked on his quest to fight the Mala Aryas with his supernatural powers.

Every year around February his feast is celebrated. People from all religions arrive from faraway places to perform the ritual of sacrificing a red rooster in the hope that the Reverend Kadamattom would answer their prayers.

Here are some photographs of the ceremony that I performed.

Note: The Church authorities are not involved in this ritual nor do they promote or support it in any manner whatsoever.

This is the well that was connected to the church and which Reverend Kadamattom to exit and enter the church when he embarked on his quest to fight the Mala Aryas’ magic with his own supernatural powers. © Mark Ulyseas

This is the well that was connected to the church and which Reverend Kadamattom used to enter and exit the church when he embarked on his quest to fight the Mala Aryas’ magic with his own supernatural powers. © Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies who resides next to the church. This is the red rooster that I bought to be sacrificed. The other ingredients were spices, local fried snacks, ladoos, a bottle of  brandy, banana leaves, curry leaves, some vegetables, two loaves of sliced bread, pure ghee, candles, incense sticks, matches and a knife.© Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies who resides next to the church. This is the red rooster that I bought to be sacrificed. The other ingredients were spices, local fried snacks, ladoos, a bottle of brandy, banana leaves, curry leaves, some vegetables, two loaves of sliced bread, pure ghee, candles, incense sticks, matches and a knife.© Mark Ulyseas

Slitting the throat of the rooster. © Mark Ulyseas

Slitting the throat of the rooster. © Mark Ulyseas

The severed head of the rooster was thrown into the well. © Mark Ulyseas

The severed head of the rooster was thrown into the well. © Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies firmly holds the headless rooster over the ancient stone cross so that its blood may  squirt onto the cross. © Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies firmly holds the headless rooster over the ancient stone cross so that its blood may squirt onto the cross. © Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies preparing the offering to Reverend Kadamattom. He cooked chicken masala and steamed rice. © Mark Ulyseas

The Master of Ceremonies preparing the offering to Reverend Kadamattom. He cooked chicken masala and steamed rice. © Mark Ulyseas

The offering:  Brandy, chicken masala, bananas, ladoos, sliced bread, fried local snacks, jelebis laid out on a banana leaf. I drank the brandy and ate some of the offering. © Mark Ulyseas

The offering: Brandy, chicken masala, bananas, ladoos, sliced bread, fried local snacks, jelebis laid out on a banana leaf. I drank the brandy and ate some of the offering. © Mark Ulyseas

© Mark Ulyseas