In Mumbai, a small community from Andhra Pradesh worships the Goddess Mariamman every summer, seeking protection from smallpox, chickenpox and all forms of disease. My housemaid is from Andhra Pradesh, so I went with her to see the annual Mariamman ceremony. Mum came along, of course, to find out what it was all about.
Inside the tent, there was a little shrine. In the villages of South India, there's a distinctly different looking Mariamman. But this is Bombay! There is no consecrated idol of the goddess here, so a popular representation of Durga was housed inside the tent, with the customary trident.
The dancing lasted a short while, but it was energetic and graceful.
After the dancing, there was a brief prayer ritual. An elder from the community performed the arati. The prayers to Mariamman are "non-agama" i.e. not from the sacred Vedic texts. Brahmins do not conduct prayers to this Goddess, except in a couple of very large Mariamman temples in Tamil Nadu, where the worship has morphed into a fully agamic tradition.
After the prayer, a desi fowl was offered as sacrifice to please the Goddess and ask her protection.
Customary group photo at the end of the day. This is a section of women from my maid's community. They are Yadavas, a Kshatriya caste who are traditionally cowherds and shepherds. My maid Vasantha is on the extreme left, in an orange saree and red blouse.