One of the Navakannikas, the nine river goddesses, at their famous temple at Kumbakonam. She is represented with her attendants. Look at the beautiful play of texture and colour!!
There is a very major Mahamaham festival that happens once in 12 years at this temple. About 5 million people showed up for the last one in 2004 (!!). It is believed that all the nine goddesses come with Lord Siva to bathe in the temple tank at this time. The next festival is Feb 2016, in case you're planning that far ahead.
Three of Tamil Nadu's outstanding crafts came together to create this simple but dazzlingly stunning visual of a river Goddess. Stone carvers, textile weavers, and bronze artisans, all worked on it. The temple architects designed the layout. The priests expressed their devotion through decoration. Truly, such beauty is divine. Without such aesthetics, the Indian soul would be dead.
Photo credit: Ronni Hendel-Giller