Panguni Celebration – Singapore

So what happened since the March Photowalk? No pictures ? Well a bit of the contrary, I have been in a film frenzy and I now average 2 rolls a week, but then this takes  a lot of time to process and there is little time left to put this us in a post. Also of course has there’s been a bit of travelling, but that will be for other posts…

So at the week after the March photowalk, on a Wednesday morning, was the celebration of Panguni.

Panguni is a Hindu celebration similar to Thaipusam (you can see my post for this year here). In Singapore it is held two lunar months after Thaipusam, in the Yishun area, at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple.

Like Thaipusam it involves body piercing, carrying Kavadis, music, friends and family support.

It is always amazing from the outside to see people going through this ritual. But you can also find some laughter there.

Panguni is a lot smmaller celebration that Thaipusam and it is less crowded. A lot less photographers and onlokers as well. Some of the people I spoke to pput the emphasis on the local dimension of the ceremony.

Pictures are done with Leica M4 and M6, with Summaron 35F2.8 and Summilux 50F1.4v2, using Kodak Tri-X. I also shot some colours pics but they did not make it through the selection.

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Panguni Celebration – Singapore

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

Thaipusam 2013 – The Nikon shots

This is a follow up of Thaipusam 2013 post.

All pictures below taken with Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mmF1.8D and 17-35mmF2.8. The place in Serangoon road does not have a very good light; it’s very dark prior to 9am; after this there is too much light coming from the side of the area as it had no walls (Appart when you are within the temple)

On Thaipusam afternoon I brough the Nikon F3 + 50F1.4 AIS loaded with a roll of Ilford 400 PAN. The results were not that great. We went to Tank Road were people finish the pilgrimage, chill out and dissemble the kavadis.
My favourite picture is probably the following , where the guy in the middle have someone remove the spike that goes through both his cheeks.

On the last shot below the Chinese pilgrims I met the morning have finished and pose for a group shot.

To my question “How do you feel?” their answer was “Happier”.

Thaipusam 2013 – The Nikon shots

Thaipusam 2012 – A shot in the dark

Time flies and here it comes again, as sure as Christmas in December, Thaipusam the Hindu festival of Singapore falls every year around the end of January. Unfortunately this year I have very little time to go, so I just popped in at night for half an hour. I fancied myself putting a roll of tri-x in the F4s and take a fast autofocus lens and shoot at 1600 ISO. Well that proved to be a wrong choice; my F4 is no longer what it used to be (or never was) and autofocus in the dark is not great. So that day the ratio of keepers is pretty low, 3 pictures only are worth looking at.
Lessons of the day:
– I would have been better taking the D700!
– The best pictures of the F4 were done with manual lenses! Maybe its AF has a problem…

For older shots of Thaipusam click here.

Camera: Nikon F4s
Lens: Nikkor 50mm F1.8D
Film: Kodak Trix 400 pushed 1600ISO
Scanner: Epson v500

Thaipusam 2012 – A shot in the dark