Friday, 23 September 2016

Takehiko Yagi | Holi

Photo © Takehiko Yagi-All Rights Reserved
"I have been fascinated by the colors of the sacred festival of Holi for nine years now. I fell in love with the festival for the first time when I saw it on television as a high school student." 
This is very possibly a first. 

My Twitter feed has the link to the photo gallery Diving Into The Colors of Holi by Japanese photographer Takehiko Yagi, and naturally I followed it to view it.

Scrolling down the intensely colored images of the well known Indian festival, I stopped at the above photograph, showing the spiritual intensity on the faces of devotees in the temple of Banke Bihari in Vrindavan, the epicenter of the Holi festival. 

I recognized this exact scene because I was there as the same time, and photographed these very same devotees. And then I remembered being shoulder to shoulder with an Asian photographer, who, now I know, was Takehiko Yagi. We were both swathed in scarves and eye protections; our cameras protected by makeshift (or ready-made) plastic covers, and we had our backs to the stage where the idol was periodically shown to the mass of devotees in the temple's hall.

This is my own photograph:

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
While the scenes at Banke Bihari Temple, the epicenter of Holi devotional revelry in Vrindavan, provide incredibly compelling photographs of devotees covered in color, I remember concluding that the scenes were also repetitive, and there was the risk of hitting the point of diminishing returns after a while.

Most photographers prefer to remain to the sides of the temple, but not Mr. Yagi or me. We preferred venturing in the courtyard where the frenetic activity was, and where we were most at risk from the Holi weaponry. I recall being drenched in colored water thrown at the crowds by the temple's priests.

Takehiko Yagi was born in Fukuoka, and attended the Tamagawa University College of Agriculture, and started his career as a professional photographer in 2014. He was awarded
a Nikkei National Geographic Photo Prize in that year, and was Grand prize winner of the 4th Nikkei National Geographic Photo Prize.