At the Art of the festival

Autumn arrives in its own special way, leaves that held fast onto the branches finally let go, only to be swished away by the wind . The sun starts getting lazy, rising late and calling it a day by mid evening. The nip in the air getting more prominent as the days go by. For me as well as the whole of Kolkata , autumn also brings with it  the whiff of incense and the golden glow of light bulbs decorating  the streets of the city. It’s the time when Durga comes visiting her maternal home with her daughters Lakshmi and Saraswati and her sons Ganesha and Karthik after killing the demon Mahishasura. It is  the celebration of the age-old triumph of good over evil. For the people of Bengal, Durga  is more than a Goddess,she is the  mother most affectionately called “Maa”.The most awaited festival of the city, and Kolkata leaves  no stone unturned  to please their beloved mother. The preparations begin from early July and slowly as the days become shorter the Pandals get ready to house the Goddess.The people making sure that they go to see their “Maa” wearing clothes specially bought for the Pujas. Cameras fly off the shelves as everybody gets ready to capture the festive spirit. The Goddess herself  transforms from a model of  hay and clay to her divine feminine form.

Its on the  four main days of festivity that the city becomes a big fair ground where art, talent and beauty are found  in abundance and every soul is one with the Puja spirit. With the traditional Puja Pandals and idols giving way to new ideas, the themes and layouts go from beautiful to bizarre. Its a tough competition, with each committee vying for the crowds.The festival changes the city into a world of surrealism, something that makes everyone an Alice in wonderland.You see a T-Rex here,a  Buddha temple there, a weaver bird’s nest a few feet away. The city never fails to surprise you and you keep wondering how these themes were thought of, processed and brought to life.

It is a Festival like no other ,where art is worshipped and object of worship is art in itself.


Shweta 🙂

Bombay on a 50mm

Talking about things overdue, i could not remember having been to marine drive in a long, long time. And with my friend Menosau (pronounced men-oh-saa) over from Nagaland it’d be now  or “…tomorrow…most definitely..i suwwwea…” Menosau was made of sterner stuff  “….Dont talk tommyrot – lets move it before I lose it” she rapped. Now, Nagas as you know are not a people to be trifled with, you could lose your hair and the scalp along with it.  so giving in at this point was to my advantage and being a good loser (having had countless opportunities at this) i graciously bowed to the popular wisdom of ‘doing it now, when you could just as bloody well do it tomorrow’ and prepared to set sail.

I grabbed a bag, took menosau’s camera (a 5dmkII), threw on the 50mm f1.4 that i wanted to put through some street photography, and we were off.

I shot some pictures on the train to town but it was out on the road at marine drive that I could see the 50mm come into its own. It’s not for nothing that people love this little gem of a lens. The form factor is fabulous and it was a joy to hold and shoot with. The light of the sun was particularly beautiful that evening and i silently thanked menosau for getting me there. Walking along the breezy promenade, i found the 50mm sharp and decently fast. Wide open at f1.4, it was tough to manage razor focus for street work but at around f2 and above the lens was super sweet.

For a dekko at more of my work, go here – raghu on tumblr

– raghu