For two years, I worked with Dr. Shannon Novak (Professor of Anthropology, Syracuse University) supporting her research with an Indo-Guyanese immigrant community in Toronto, Canada.
I supplemented her research using my experience as an ethnobotanist and a photographer.
Washing a coconut for sacrifice (right, top)An offering of Turmeric, Betel, and spices (right, bottom)
Coconuts are used throughout the service because of the purity of the coconut flesh and water which has never been exposed to any defiling elements. Once his prayer is complete, the priest will deftly crack the coconut with a cutlass exposing pure flesh for the goddess to consume.
Image won the American Anthropological Association 2018 Calendar contest.
He wields a cane and bundle of neem leaves. His Mala identifies him as Master and the guardian of the temple. Devotee onlookers watch him dance and wait for him to bless them with acknowledgment by dousing them with water, speaking to them, dancing with them, or blessing them with the neem.
A devotee stands at the back to explain the ceremony to curious onlookers and to offer permits to police officers if called to the scene.