08 July 2009

The Happy Hindu at Badrinath

The Happy HinduOn the day Badrinath, high in the Indian Himalaya, closed for winter, this man seemed to delight everyone, running around placing tikkas/tilakas on foreheads and marking swastikas* on anything that moved, including jeeps and buses, and on many things that didn't. He seems relatively subdued in this photo, with just a hint of his infectious good humour showing; nevertheless, I remember vividly his energy and laughter.

*The swastika is an ancient symbol that remains ubiquitous throughout the Indian subcontinent. Sadly, its appropriation in simplified form by the Nazis and, subsequently, by neo-Nazi groups has tainted its connotations throughout much of the rest of the world. A lack of understanding of the swastika's history and significance has sometimes caused unnecessary distress and ill-feeling. Perhaps this is yet another argument for the value of travelling for fostering not mere tolerance, but appreciation and respect.
All content © 2009 Pete McGregor


D.V.A. said...

odd make-up, that's for sure. you're kinda keen on old people lately, though ... I miss flowers and animals and landscapes :D
keep it up with everything you do! cheers

Zhoen said...

The proof of his usual expression is written in the creases.

the watercats said...

What a hand!... I think hands can tell as many stories as a face, imagine the story that hand holds.... Beautiful picture!

pohanginapete said...

D.V.A., people are generally the most difficult subjects to photograph well, but the most satisfying. And old people so often have so much to offer — all those memories and experiences stored in their faces. I can't imagine ever tiring of photographing people. But there'll be plenty more photos of other subjects. Thanks for the encouragement :^)

Zhoen, that's a good point, and it emphasises what I said in my reply to D.V.A.

Watercats, I agree about the significance of hands. The famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson seemed thoroughly aware of that. In particular, I remember one of his photos of Gandhi, who had his back to HCB; what was striking about the photo was Gandhi's hand, raised in the air in a gesture that seemed to contain an astonishing depth of meaning. Thanks for reminding me :^)

butuki said...

Those are some MEAN glasses, and oddly fit him perfectly!

pohanginapete said...

They're wonderful, aren't they Miguel?