Festivals are among the events and photo opportunities sought after by photographers interested in story-driven imagery, such as documentary, travel, and street photography. It’s easy to see what makes it so captivating for both photographers and viewers alike, as we see in the vibrant festival snaps of Kathmandu-based photojournalist Skanda Gautam.
Skanda’s career as a photojournalist for The Himalayan Times is as colorful as the festivals he covers. Take, for example, his recent photos taken during the Maha Shivaratri Festival held in Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath Temple. In this annual event held in either February or March, he mentioned that thousands of sadhus or holy men from India and Nepal celebrate by smoking marijuana, smearing their bodies with ash, and offering prayers of devotion to the Hindu god Shiva. Interestingly, this festival is a more solemn and meditative event, compared to most Hindu festivals that involve upbeat merriment and parades.
Nevertheless, Skanda’s photographs show how vibrant and eye-catching the Maha Shivaratri’s colors and costumes can be. We get a glimpse of them in his portraits of the sadhus as they get ready for the festival, putting on ashes, paints, and costumes of different colors. The clash of hues, stains, and pigments are an interesting opposition to the serene nature of this religious event.
Skanda’s choice to photograph the sadhus in close-up portraits is the most evident reflection of how solemn and pensive the Maha Shivaratri Festival is. It would have been nice to see what the devotees of Shiva also do on this occasion. Or, to see a bigger picture of the celebration in the Pashupatinath Temple, which is one the Shiva temples to gather the biggest crowds on this day.
Don’t forget to check out Skanda Gautam’s Behance Portfolio to see more of the colorful festivals and events he covers.