Yay! It’s Dasara!

DSC06489
Na yotsya Govinda! I will not fight, O Govinda.

It’s my favorite time of the year – the nine nights of Dasara. And once again, it’s time for my annual visit to the home of the Ravindranath family.

Year after year, this sweet Iyengar family in Basavanagudi, Bangalore, puts up their remarkable exhibition of Dasara dolls. There are well over four thousand dolls in this astonishing display.

DSC06443
Chakravyuha. Note the attention to detail!

It is truly a labor of love – and faith. They spend a fortune and they make no money out of it – although there are unscrupulous dickheads who make money out of them.

Each year, there’s a special theme. And this year, the theme is the 18-day battle of Kurukshetra. Each day of the battle has been recreated in painstaking detail. They’ve done their research thoroughly. In fact, they’ve created the battle formations used by both sides, on each day of the battle. They’ve recreated the key events of the battle – like the Bhagavadgeetha, the fall of Bheeshma, Ghatotkacha’s death, Jayadratha’s decapitation by Arjuna, and several others.

DSC06403
The end of Ghatotkacha, slain by Karna’s Shakti weapon.

Why do we celebrate Dasara? You can read about it in my blogpost, here.

Simply put, Dasara commemorates the epic battle between the goddess Durga and the demon Mahisha. The battle raged for nine nights. Each night, She took on a different form to do battle with Mahisha. On the morning of the tenth day, Durga slew Mahisha. This day therefore, is called Vijayadashami.

DSC06402

Vijayadashami is an especially auspicious day. On this day, Rama killed Ravana in battle. Since Rama cut off Ravana’s ten heads, the festival came to be known as Dasa Hara or Dasara.

In modern times, we do not cut off heads! Instead, Vijayadashami is considered a very good day to start any new venture, like a business project, a new course of study, music lessons, and just about any good activity.

DSC06394

And even at my age, I always make it a point to start something new on Vijayadashami. This year, I will start a new business venture on Vijayadashami.

Dasara is a celebration and an affirmation, of our culture and our traditions. Nowhere, and nowhere, in our traditional scriptures and our epics, does the word “Hindu” appear.

Dasara is not a “Hindu” celebration. It is Indian. That’s all.

No matter what religion you practise, enjoy Dasara. Visit a golu display. Have fun.

You can see the entire golu display of the Ravindranath family, in my Google photo album, here.

DSC06520
The Ravindranath family.

And remember:

All golu displays are free and open to the public. Do not entertain self-styled “experts” and touts. Just call up the host, and go. If you want to take photographs, it’s generally ok. But as a courtesy, ask the host first. And do not forget to profusely thank the host and her family. Golu displays take a lot of effort and time.

I am an agnostic myself. But that doesn’t stop me from enjoying any of our traditional festivals – including Christmas and Id!

So. Screw the “rationalists”.

Enjoy Dasara. It is your festival.

Cheers … Srini.

 

Advertisements

Phool’s paradise … Lalbagh flower show.

flowershowaug2017-12

It’s been a turbulent month at Bangalore. Bad weather, floods, law and order issues, trees falling, people killed, rain, slush, garbage. But the flowers are still blooming, and life goes on somehow.

The bi-annual flower show at Lalbagh is one event I look forward to. The event is a nature photographer’s delight, and the milling crowds and my heart condition are no deterrents. In spite of rampant urbanisation, severe over-population, horrifying traffic, choking pollution and the effing Metro, Bangalore retains its position as the country’s horticultural hub.

The flower show provides a platform for horticulturists to display their wares and for flower lovers to enjoy them. Business is brisk, deals are struck, bargains are made, flowers get new homes, thumbs are greened.

I never fail to attend the show, and add to my portfolio of rare flowers. Here are some of the images I shot. I don’t buy them. I merely shoot them!

flowershowaug2017-06206
Bracted sunflower (Xerochrysum bracheatum).
flowershowaug2017-06294
Passion flower (Krishna kamal). Passiflora incarnata.

 

_DSC5972
Anthurium.

_DSC5791

 

_DSC5957

flowershowaug2017-11

 

Cheers … Srini.

The thrill of photography.

omkarhill-8783
Omkar temple, Bangalore, India. One of my favorite images.

Today, Aug 19th, is World Photography Day.  Why Aug 19th, you ask?

On Monday, August 19th, 1839, the Daguerreotype photographic process was released to the public as an open-source technology. Read about it in Wikipedia, if you want.

Thanks to this great gesture by the French, you and I can enjoy photography without paying hefty royalties to anyone. Vive la France!

Photography is my primary stress-buster. Keeps me sane, makes me really happy. Almost as good as sex. Almost. (I have been an involuntary celibate since many years, fyi).

In the days of celluloid film, photography was a demanding hobby. Composing a good photo required considerable skill, a great deal of patience, a lot of good luck and a competent studio that could develop film correctly. A professional photographer or a serious hobbyist who wanted to develop his own photos had to have skills in chemistry as well, and a dark room, and plenty of money for film and chemicals.

darter
Scarlet darter at dusk.

Film photography was a time-consuming and expensive hobby, but it was fun nevertheless.

Things changed with the birth of the digital camera. Nikon introduced the first commercial digital SLR camera in 1986. And Canon, Minolta, Sony et al quickly followed. Those early digital cameras cost a fortune. Most of us photographers in India could merely dream of buying one.

Today, we have cameraphones, point-and-click digcams, gopro’s, webcams, god-knows-what-else, for any budget, any skill level.

Some questions about photography:

Is photography very expensive?

Of course not. If you have a decent smartphone, that’s enough to get started. Some of my best images have been made with my phone. If you have about Rs.20K to spare, you can get yourself a very good bridge camera that’s almost as good as a DSLR camera.

sks lalbagh-171333
Made with my cellphone.

If you don’t have Rs 20K to spare, there are hundreds of affordable point-and-click digital cameras out there.  As your skills improve, you can spend as much as you want, depending on how far you want to go. For most people, a bridge camera will be all they need.

Should I buy Photoshop or something?

Not necessarily. Most camera manufacturers offer free imaging software with their cameras. And there are many photo apps on the net, all free. Gimp, Snapseed, VSCO, the list is endless.

Do I need a computer?

Perhaps. For cameraphone photography, you don’t need a PC. Just click, process, share. For a bridge or DSLR camera, you do. Any unbranded PC is enough.

Where do I save my photos?

As you take more pictures, you will find yourself running out of space on your PC or phone. Not to worry. There are many cloud-based sites like Google Drive, Flickr and 500px that allow you to store and share hundreds of images. If you have the money, buy an external or internal hard disk.

What is the best time for photography?

In principle, any time is good. For outdoor photography, daytime is best. I do most of my photography in the hours between 3pm and 6pm, depending on the season. Dawn is also a good time. Avoid afternoons, in general.

What kind of photography do I get into?

DSC06285
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata).

Anything you like. Nature, wildlife, food, people, travel, street, candids – anything at all. There are on-line resources for every taste, every skill level, every person.

Does photography pay?  No.

Don’t even think of quitting your job. At the professional level, photography is really expensive and very risky. Save your money and time. Enjoy photography as a hobby, take great photos that you can share with your friends and family, spend as much as you can afford, and not a penny more.

_DSC3935
Butterflies are difficult to shoot!

Which camera do I buy?

Buy only the camera you can comfortably afford, without the need to pay in instalments. Buying a camera ( or any other electronic device costing less than Rs. 20K) on instalments is just foolish. Cameras have negligible resale value. Remember that.

As I said, all you need is a good smartphone and a free app. Nowadays, you get all kinds of affordable lenses and accessories for smartphone photography, if you think your phone is not good enough on its own.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and immensely satisfying hobby, that will last for a lifetime, and that may or may not get you laid, I’d say modern photography is one of the best options you have. I’ve yet to get laid, but one lives in hope.

Go ahead. Put your hand into your pants. Take out your cellphone. Make your day.

Cheers … Srini.