In a Himalayan valley, in northern India, a very ancient pre-Hindu animist cult persists, the cult of the ‘devtas’: local divinities part gods and part sages and demons, exclusive to the Kullu valley. The inhabitants materialize these divinities with gold and silver masks. Despite the modernisation of the valley and the consequent social changes, this cult continues crystallising a universe of values. The gods express themselves through the trance of mediums, but we discover the thousand prerogatives of the ‘devtas’ by following the daily life of a peasant family and the ritual festivities. These divinities are jacks-of-all-trades: they protect the houses and crops; they bless the various religious feasts; they cure illnesses, bring the rain, judge controversies and solve quarrels.
Jean M. Le Saux