A Taste of India – Festivals

We, in India, live in diversity.  Each of us, apart from our present lives, relate to our past by holding on to the customs and beliefs of our ancestors. These too vary depending upon which part of the country we originate from, and the religion we follow. With such a great mixture of people, one thing is for certain: India is a photographer’s dream. To expand on this, I choose the topic of festivals, one that is of great importance in this country. Festivals are a wonderful opportunity for amateur and professionals to test their lens in a variety of circumstances. The elements of relevance in photography are seen everywhere in Indian festivals.


Photo courtesy of Rafiq Maqbool

Color has always been intimately associated with Indian festivals and practices. The greatest relation between the two is seen in the festival of Holi, a day spent throwing different shades of color on friends and families. Apart from this, some festivals find people decorating the entrance of their houses with floor murals called ‘rangolis’ made with dry colors and flowers. Open grounds are covered with bright tents as an indication of a community gathering. Seemingly random colors are mixed together, yet prove to be totally harmonious. It is safe to say that the colors alone found in festivals are enough to inspire photographers.


Photo courtesy of Joe McNally

The play on light is something that every photographer in the world enjoys. Here, during festivals, we enjoy the play on light in our own way. Fire is an element of significance in many of our religious functions. Homes are decorated during festivals by illuminating them with beautiful clay pots of light called ‘diyas’.  The warm glow of these spiritually exhilarating vessels help break the darkness as well as make for some truly beautiful shots.


Photo courtesy of Ajit Solanki

Festivals also give people a reason to dress up. Depending on the region and the occasion of celebration, one can see a wide range of traditional costumes, made out of different material worn by folks here in India.


Photo courtesy of Rukmini

Being a land notorious for its food, it is only fitting that on days of celebration, what one eats is given great importance! The sweet tooth is given preference on these days, with houses stacking up on the sugary savories. These sweets come in different shapes, sizes and consistencies; making them look very interesting (and not to mention delectable) when placed together.


Photo courtesy of Pedro Ugarte

Festivals are opportunities for communities to gather to pray and celebrate together. As such, they are also great opportunities for photographers to practice composing these streams of people gathered in an area in a single frame while holding on to the sentiment of the atmosphere. This can be a rather challenging task, with the lens as well as the eyes being constantly distracted. However, there is also a plethora of shots that can be taken.

This is just one of many scenarios in which life has inspired photography here in India. In the coming posts I plan to expand more on this relationship, and by doing so I hope to give everyone a glimpse of a land quite distinct in its identity, yet completely varied when dissected.