FIRE WALKING CEREMONY – Another roll on Kodak TMZ3200

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Devotees waiting outside the temple

You can read more about the Fire Walking Ceremony in my post from 2014 (here). In short it is a Indian festival honoring the Hindu goddess Sri Draupadi, who is the wife of the five Pandava brothers who walked on hot coals to prove her purity.

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Devotees waiting outside the temple

Devotees go through a purification period and on the day of the festival they walk from Little India where they get blessing and protective amulets to the SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE in Chinatown where they walk through the coals of the fire pit. After this they go at the back of the temple where they discard they protection and offer to the god the beads necklace they wear since the beginning of the cleansing period.

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Devotee entering the temple

This is the 3rd time I am going to the festival. As I mentioned in my last post, total respect to the devotees. I went in the evening as usual with my friend Matte Lim.

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Devotee entering the temple

This is my second or third roll of this film. The first attempt was so so. This is supposedly a new film, replacing the old TMZ 3200 discontinued in 2012. I think the film works well for scenes with good contrast and some lighted parts ; if your scene is grayish you wont get much on the picture.

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Devotee entering the temple

It was night when I attend the fire-walk festival but both places where I was had some heavy lights on parts of the scene.

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Devotee entering the temple

The M6 is great for focusing in the night, even with my ageing eyes, also the metering is quite ok. 

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The fire pit (Heavy back-light fooled the meter)

Most shots are done with 50mm Cron (v 5), maybe some with the 35mm Cron (Asph v2), as I swapped the lens between teh M6 and M262 at some point.

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Devotee removing his beads necklace
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Offering the beads necklace

Processing was done by the usual lab and scanning at home with the Epson v800 , scanning is easy.

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I like the grain, which is quite limited and pleasant imo (but my wife does not).

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The 3 next pictures are my favorites.

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FIRE WALKING CEREMONY – Another roll on Kodak TMZ3200

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

“it all started as a riot”

 

I felt very lucky last week when a friend of my wife told us a bout a fire dragon performance organized by a temple in Balestier area in Singapore. In 9 years here I have never seen such a thing and was very thrilled to see one.

The Fu De Gong temple is located in Kim keat lane, very easy to access by bus. I have been told by the friendly member of the temple that this is a taoist temple. I did not see the actual temple as we arrived at night fall and the premises were covered by the tent hosting the celebration.

There was maybe a couple of hundred people attending, on one side of the tent was a stage with a Cantonese opera (or wayang) on the other side a large shrine and in the middle an area for the performances.

When we arrived a very good quality lion dance was in process and we enjoyed for a good half hour until the riot begin. From the end of the road the Dragon was approaching; with music and flames; until it finally enters the tent (but that’s another story)…

The Fire Dragon – Part 1

Fire Walking Ceremony – Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore

Fire walking is a South Indian festival honoring the Hindu goddess Sri Draupadi, who is the wife of the five Pandava brothers who walked on hot coals to prove her purity.

This is the first time I can go to this ceremony. Total respect for the amount of faith, the sense of community and probably the amount of pain going on there.

The devotees arrive from Little India, a couple of km away in groups, some chanting, some with music, some singing and dancing.

They then arrive a few hundred meters from the Sri Maramiam temple and wait in a staging area.  All of this is very well organized; groups are allowed to pass from one area to the next by the organizers in order to organized the crowed. Some devotees told me they were expecting 5000 people.

I have seem this man many times in Thaipusam in the past years, seeing these people years after years in the viewfinder is one of the attractions I find in photographing these events.

I asked one of the Hindu man in the public how do the devotees group themselves; he told me they are friends and make a kind of team that make each of them stronger and helps them going through the ritual. Like a sport team he told me, doing this on your own would be much more difficult.

I did not really thought I could enter the temple, but as I was close to the entrance, one of the organizer asked me if I wanted get inside. I removed my shoes and they even gave me a plastic bag to carry them and I was moved inside the temple. Actually there is a special track for visitors and a different one for devotees.

The track goes along the fire pit, and although we are asked not to stay there too long I could witness two men doing the ritual.

This one above, was walking very casually (so to speak).

This one was more in running mode, you will notice the flower petals he through in the air before starting.

Walking out of the main temple area, people are waiting and resting and going through other stations, I must admit I am ignorant of what the whole pilgrimage consist of after the fire walking itself.

Outside people are resting.

The ground of the temple is covered in yellow power, probably not saffron more likely curcuma, clearly these feet have been walking through fire.

I saw a few times some ethnic Chinese Hindu in Singapore, here is one who was looking to be quite in pain,

I hope you enjoyed this post.

For my Hindu friends if you find a picture of yourself and you are not happy with that, let me know and I will remove it from this album, if you like them, let me know I’ll be enchanted. I am never sure if my schedule allowed but I would really enjoy meeting one of the groups and following you over an extended period of time to produce a photo-book of some sort.

Needless to say that these picture for my own interest in photography and the pleasure of sharing. They are a not for commercial use.

On a side note: I am a donkey sometime; when I pass at the temple on the afternoon I see this older gentleman of a photographer that I meet every year at Thaipusam. Not only did I not take his portrait but I did not ask for his contact. He carries a Nikon F5, if somebody knows him let me know.

Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 85mm F1.8D, only the first one is done with the 17-35F2.8AFS

Fire Walking Ceremony – Sri Mariamman Temple – Singapore

The haze affair

Let's make the harbor disappear
Let’s make the harbor disappear

Under the conjugated effect of dry season and south west winds the annual forest fires in Sumatra have caused a major issue in Singapore this year. The pollution index rose to never seen before levels, some school sent kids back home and companies held meetings to see how to face the situation. Wearing face masks is recommended, but they came very difficult to find out and the highly efficient N95 3M masks were unobtainable at all the outlets I visited. Many pharmacists carry notices that “All face masked are out of stock, please check at a later date”. I met people who considered flying abroad for the safety of their children. Unexpectedly a crisis situation is happening under my very eyes. So what to do ? Wear a mask take a camera and shoot. The haze may not be very camera friendly by I hope I can convey a bit of what happened in these shots.  Saturday situation was slowly going back to normal, but at this time, the pollution index remains in the zone named “Unhealthy” by the authorities (back from “Hazardous” that’s quite a relief).

 

All shots are done with the Nikon D700 and the old 35-70 F.3.5AI Pro” zoom, that I bought second hand back in 1992 with my F3. There are a couple of hip shots, I must say I quite enjoyed “going back to digital” after shooting one roll of film a week since the beginning of the year.

 

The haze affair

Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

The fish stall

I am still going through the pictures of Sri Lanka but at the same time rolls of films are pilling up (so to speak) in the hard drive, new cameras have arrives and lenses to try are expected and the  next trip is just around the corner with plans for the second half of the year in the making. I have told too much already, haven’t I? Well, ok, the new camera’s are a Kiev 4 with a 35mm and a 50mm Jupiter lenses and I already done two rolls with it, the other one I’m not supposed to use as it’s my present for the upcoming Bday, it’s a beautiful Leica IIIC, but I’m having a test roll at the moment just to check you know. Ok and the upcoming holidays are 5 days in Taiwan, I plan to shoot on  film only.

 

For those interested 1st of May will be the International Commie Camera Day 2013, take out your Zorki, Kiew, Praktika and more. Check here on flickrInternational Commie Camera Day 2013

 

Ok and now back to Sri Lanka.

 

Nuwara Eliya is a hill station as it used to be called, close to 1800m above sea level, the center of a region of tea plantation. The city itself is very touristy (by local standards) and did not seem to be so interesting, but the countryside and the plantations are worth the visit.

The road from Kandi is about 2 hours, steep and tortuous.

The Tea museum is worth the visit, stopping by one of the tea factories in activity for a commercial tour (and buying tea on the exit) is also worth the stop.

For those like me who like markets the  small food market in the center of town is also a valuable place to visit.

 

We stayed one night in the Langdale by Amaya, one of the boutique hotels on the other side of the city when coming from Kandy, something like 45 minutes drive. The hotel is built in a old tea estate and you can walk the plantations (if you have time). After Nuwara Eliya, we drive directly to Gallle (see next post), which took us the best of 6 hours, not the best day of the trip.

 

Nuwara Eliya – Sri Lanka

Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (2/2)

Now is time to swallow fire ! Do not try this at home ….

Oh yeah and at the end of the show the firewalking…

 

Shots were taken with the D700 and the 80-200F2.8D, and 17-35F2.8D

 

Traditional Dance show – Kandy – Sri Lanka (2/2)