Monday, 12 December 2011

Kolkata's The Cult of Durga

My main project that came to be from the Kolkata's Cult of Durga Photo~Expedition & Workshop™ which I led and organized is The Cult of Durga.

In contrast to my previous audio slideshows that on average are 3 minutes in length, The Cult of Durga is's just over 5 minutes. I also broke a few of my own rules with it. Using the Ken Burns effect on a couple of occasions is one of the most obvious. I decided against a tighter edit,  thinking that reducing the number of photographs would've eliminated some important components. So I left it as I produced it in Kolkata.

Durga Puja is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It's the most important religious and social event in Kolkata. It involves a series of rituals which start from the production of effigies, building of the pandals, offerings of flower and worship, and then finally immersion of the effigies in the Ganges.

The Durga Puja event is celebrated over no less than ten days, but it's the last four days – Saptami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami – that are celebrated with considerable joy and fanfare when the ten armed goddess riding the lion and slaying evil is worshipped with immense zeal and devotion.

This documentary audio slideshow starts with the fashioning of the effigies of Durga which is supervised by certain rites and rules, which include that the clay used for these effigies must be collected from the banks of the Ganges. It then follows the transport of the effigies to the pandals and homes. I also photographed the dhakis, the traditional drummers who accompany the effigies to the pandals, then it was the "kala-bau" snan processions to the Ganges where banana plants are cleaned and draped in a cloth along with nine types of leaves, and on to the last day of the festival when the Durga effigies are brought back to the river for their final immersions symbolizing the goddess' return to her abode in the Himalayas.

And for those who are interested in that kind of stuff, I used a Leica M9, a 5D Mark II and a 7D. The audio was recorded with a Marantz PMD 620.