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Pepita Seth

Profile

Pepita SethPepita Seth was born in London and grew up on a farm in Suffolk. Her career began in the cutting rooms, editing British and American documentaries and feature films. In 1970, the chance discovery of her soldier great-grandfather’s 1857 diary inspired her to make her first visit to India. Although she returned in 1972 she went south, to Kerala. From then on, between work assignments, she made regular visits to Kerala until finally basing herself in Thrissur where she now lives. By 1979, she had given up all film work and, driven by her passion and respect for the region’s culture and traditions, begun to photograph and write about the rituals of Kerala’s Hindus. In 1981, she received official permission to enter Kerala’s temples — including Guruvayur Temple.

She has lectured extensively on Kerala’s traditions in India, Britain and the United States. Exhibitions of her photographs have been held in India through the British Council, and in Britain and the United States at Nikon House, Dialectica Gallery and Barnard University. Her novel, The Spirit Land, was published in 1994 and the following year she began to focus on a single subject: the Theyyam rituals of Malabar. The 5 years spent in northern Kerala resulted in exhibitions — in Britain and the United States.

In 2001 she began her research on Guruvayur Temple, encouraged by the temple authorities and the resulting book: Heaven on Earth: The Universe of Kerala’s Guruvayur Temple, was published in 2009, the culmination of 7 years of research and documentation.

Since 2009 she has been working on a major book.