Pongal found me in a small village in rural Tamil Nadu where celebrations were going on. Pongal is the Indian Thanksgiving that is celebrated on in January when the sun moves into the astrological sign Makar (Capricorn). In Tamil Nadu, it’s celebrated for three to five days. The first day is the day that everything is cleaned and prepared. Old clothes are thrown out and new ones put on. 

The second day, cows are decorated and worshipped. The third day includes a “running of the bulls” that is absurdly dangerous. I opted out of that one as I didn’t want to see people (or the bulls) getting injured or killed, which is something that generally happens.

The village I was in on the second day of the festival had games going on. When we arrived, the children were playing musical chairs, exactly the same way children do in the US. However, as is usual in most parts of India, the loudspeakers were turned up to maximum volume. That’s something I’ll never understand as it invariably distorts the music or whatever so much that there’s no way to appreciate it. Luckily, I had my earplugs with me as they were really needed. Actually, I always keep a pair with me because intense assaults on the ears often do occur unexpectedly. I still have good hearing, but without them I’d be fairly deaf by now. Most Indians are partially deaf due to the loudspeakers and horns that are so prevalent, though they don’t all seem to be aware of the fact.

My host, Peter, lives near this village. He’s a professional filmmaker and also a photographer, so it was fun going around with him. We took lots of photos, using our digital cameras to make friends with the villagers. In the photo above, Peter had just shot this group of kids and they were rushing to see the photo. I was lucky to catch them as they leaped off the place where they had gathered. Sometimes it’s hard to get spontaneous shots of villagers as they almost all want to pose (very seriously, of course) as soon as they spot the camera.




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