Thursday, 15 November 2007

Charles Meacham: Sikhism

Image Copyright © Charles Meacham-All Rights Reserved

Charles Meacham was born just outisde of Philadelphia, and his first major travel experience was a year trip touring the U.S. in a 1971 Volkswagen camper. Overheating and bursting into flames, the van died along a highway in Arizona, but his interest in travel did not.

His image of a Kazakh eagle hunter in Western Mongolia, whose rugged image earned him first place in the National Geographic Traveler's 15th Annual Photography Competition. Since then his images have been seen internationally in almost every medium.

His current projects include images of Sikhism, documenting the lives of ex-soldiers from the Chinese civil war (on both sides of the Taiwan Strait), and the workings of the living fort of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India. When not traveling he can or cannot be found riding his motorcycle in the mountains of Taiwan.

Sikhism was founded in the 16th century Punjab district, and was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him. It is a monotheistic religion which stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals. Sikhs worship at a Gurdwara. and the Sikh scripture is a book called the Guru Granth Sahib.

Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple)in Amritsar is the most sacred and holiest shrine of Sikhism It is located in Amritsar, and Sikh devotees come to the Temple from all over the world to offer their prayers.

Meacham's splendid photographs of the Sikhs showcases adherents to the faith, from young boys to elderly patriarchs. I'm not sure what is the significance of the orange turbans worn with dark blue long shirts...I assume it's some sort of uniform worn by the Sikhs during a certain festival or ritual. The Sikhs are often described as the Warrior-Saints.

Note: My thanks to Charles who explained that orange is the holy color of the Sikh religion, and blue was the favorite color of the 10th Guru and the traditional color of his Nihang Army.

Charles Meacham