Amrita Das wandered across the island of Réunion and as if to give a gentle nod to Réunion’s kaleidoscopic culture, her first encounter happened to be with a Tamil Brahmin in the Mahakali Temple of Saint-Pierre.
Balaram spoke broken Tamil but fluent French. He was dressed in a red wrap (or lungi) and a shawl. He traced his lineage to Tamil Nadu though they had moved to Réunion 50 years ago.
The shrine had an idol of Goddess Bhadrakali in the centre, flanked by Ganesha, Narayana and Hanuman.
“The biggest festivals here are Mahakali Maha Utsav, Navratri with Agni Pravesam and Dipavali,” said the priest.