Sunday, 22 February 2015

Jan Møller Hansen | The Sadhus (Monochrome)

Photo © Jan Møller Hansen - All Rights Reserved
I missed this year's Maha Shivaratri (or just Shivratri) in Kathmandu! Celebrated on February 17, 2015 by Hindus all over the world, it glorifies the Hindu god Shiva, believed to be the lord of cosmic destruction and dance.

It's described as starting with a night vigil leading up to the day of the festival during which many Shiva devotees fast and offer special prayers. Shiva is worshiped in the form of a lingam, a vertical, rounded column, representing the male creative force and the infinite, indescribable nature of God, and the yoni which represents female creative energy. Together they represent the union of organs, and the totality of creation.

And listen to this: flowers, incense and other offerings are made, while prayers are chanted. Bhang, an intoxicant made from the cannabis plant is consumed by many on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.

How could I have missed it?

Anyway, to partially redress the disappointment is Jan Moeller Hansen's The Sadhus,  a monochrome gallery of about 50 portraits of these itinerant ascetics in Kathmandu; some of who attend the Maha Shivaratri festival with considerable zeal. After all, Nepalese authorities are said to have spent almost Rs 900,000 in cash, food and blanket donations to the 5000 sadhus who had come from various parts of Nepal and India to celebrate the festival at the Pashupatinath Temple premises.

It was estimated by the Nepali newspapers that around a million devotees from India and Nepal thronged the ancient Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu on Maha Shivratri festival on February 17.

Jan Møller Hansen is a self-taught photographer interested in social documentary and street photography. A senior diplomat working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Jan is presently based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Around 24 galleries of his photographs (some color and others in monochrome) are of Nepal. Jan also photographed the Rana Tharus who live in the Tarai, a narrow strip of land which extends across 550 miles of the southern border of Nepal, next to northeast India, and whose ethnic origin are said to be  Rajput, members of a high caste in Rajasthan.