More festivals in (better) film photography: Gai Jatra

The festival of Gai Jatra is a day in which people mourn relatives who have died in the past year. It is similar to Halloween, in that it is a day for the dead and children dress up in costume. Specifically, they dress as cows, or paint on mustaches: “Gai Jatra” means “cow festival,” and it originated in the 17th century as the king’s attempt to console and amuse the queen after their son died. (In Hinduism, the cow is the symbol of motherhood.) The tradition caught on, and every year, children and their families parade through the streets carrying…

Some festivals in film photography

Here are a few shots from two festivals that took place earlier this year: Bata-Savitri and Ropain. During the Bata-Savitri festival, married women fast and pray for the health of their husbands. They also tie colored threads around trees and make offerings to the goddess Savitri Devi. Some of the wives who were sitting around the tree looked very young; the older ones, on the other hand, clearly had had enough of Bata-Savitri over the years. Ropain is the rice planting festival. We missed the main festival day, but still were able to see some farmers at work. I’m starting…

More adventures, etc. with lots of hiking

Day 3 began at 4:45 AM when we woke up, pulled on our heaviest clothing, and began our hike up Poon Hill to catch the sunrise. Poon Hill rises to 10,531 feet above sea level. (Granted, we were starting at about 9,430 feet.) Abby remarked that, in Nepal, this is called a “hill,” while in the U.S. east of the Mississippi, people would call it a “mountain.” Maine’s Mount Katahdin is 5,269 feet high. Vermont’s Mount Snow is 3,586 feet. And Georgia’s Stone Mountain? A piddling 1,686 feet. Come on, people. Anyhow … as we neared the top, I turned…

More adventures in film photography, with pictures of mountains

Back in November, we went hiking in the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), a mountainous area about 100 miles northwest of Kathmandu that borders China. We spent four days hiking through the mountain region, completing about 40 km. We flew into Pokhara and took a van to the entrance of the ACAP, and began our hike. The village at the entrance, Nayapool, is filled with guest houses, tea houses, and restaurants, and there are many more such businesses throughout the park. Because of COVID, however, nearly all of them were empty while we were there. Sadly, the government had launched…

Navadurga festival, Bhaktapur

There in a festival in Bhaktapur called Madhav Narayan which celebrates one of the avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu. It is famous for the sight of male devotees rolling from the center of town down to the Hanuman River to show their devotion to Vishnu. The festival was nearing its close, so I went to Bhaktapur the day before to be at the riverside early in the morning. It turned out that the city also is in the middle of its Navadurga festival. Navadurga is a mask dance ritual/street carnival. To celebrate Navadurga, dancers representing nine demonic avatars (durgas)…

A different side of Kathmandu

A few weeks back, I went to Kathmandu to take photos for a friend’s research project. She is examining the leadership roles—formal and informal—that women play in sukumbasis, informal settlements that have sprung up in Kathmandu as migrants have poured into the city.  The sukumbasis we visited are on either side of the Bagmati river. The Bagmati is a holy river—the Ganges of Nepal, as it were—but is now heavily choked and polluted due to the unrestrained population growth of the city. Two generations ago, people swam in it; now it is full of untreated sewage. A view of Jagritinagar from the…

kathman-two: bhaktapur

this post is rated “m” for mature audiences only. on day two, we visited bhaktapur, a historic town just outside kathmandu. it’s a living town, albeit a heavily touristed one, and a unesco world heritage site. the architecture is remarkable. the entry to the historic town (just past the ticket booth) opens onto a wide square ringed with temples and administrative buildings. it looks almost artificial, like a theme park version of nepal. once past this, however, you will find the actual shops and houses. now, i must admit that one problem of living in india is that i’ve seen…

kathmandu

abby and i went to kathmandu this past weekend, to visit friends we’d made while serving in albania. it is a fascinating place, but first, i should clarify something: whatever bob seger was singing about in 1975, it certainly wasn’t this: the first stop was swayambhunath temple, a major buddhist pilgrimage site atop a hill overlooking kathmandu. according to legend, the bodhisattva manjushri had a vision of a lotus floating in a lake on what is now the site of the temple. he drained the lake and the lotus grew into a hill, with the flower forming the stupa itself….