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Kanwar Yatra In Jaipur| A Photography Walk

On a warm August Sunday morning, I was on a photo-walk in Jaipur. As per the Hindu calendar, it was the month of Sawan.  The subject of my photo-walk was Kanwariya or Kanwar Yatra. It is common to spot many Kanwar Yatras in Jaipur during this month. I have written about this in my previous post Sawan in Jaipur

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This Yatra can be commonly seen across North India during this period. This year Kanwariyas have been in the limelight in the state of UP and NCR  for the wrong reasons. Mob violence. Kanwar Yatra causes traffic jams & disrupts movement on the Delhi-Haridwar highway due to a large number of people. Each year Kanwariya take on the road on foot walking to Haridwar to fetch holy water from the Ganges & carry it back home. Kanwariyas being a staunch believer of Shiva use this Holy water as an offering in the Shiva temples.

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Shiv-Bhakts

Only a few Kanwariyas in the pink city make a round trip to Haridwar. As per the local custom, the water of Galta Kund is considered holy. Pilgrims walk to Galta Ji, to fetch the same.  I have already written about Galta Ji in detail in this post – The captivating monkey temple at Galta Ji. This water is offered at the local Shiva temples.

The following day being the last Monday in Sawan, I was sure to witness at least one such Yatra. These Yatras are led by a pilot van with loudspeakers fitted in the cargo area. The blaring music hit my ears from an intersection.  The devotional songs are fused with popular Bollywood music.

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Kanwariyas following a pilot van fitted with loudspeakers

As I headed towards this intersection I saw a large huge number of people marching out from Galta Gate. Unlike most Kanwar Yatra, there were female group leaders & male traffic coordinators.

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Female group leaders navigating the Yatra

Seen above is Tripolia Gate in the background.

Read  Tripolia Gate- Jaipur Then And Now

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After finding a suitable location on a side-pavement, I started clicking pictures. I captured a few Kanwariyas unaware.

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Some were busy among themselves following the file.

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There were some who were happy and posed for the shot.

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A group leader poses for the camera.

Also part of this troop were a few “furry” characters. I have never seen this idea in any of Kanwars before. Probably they were added to create some “buzz”.

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Let’s have some fun!

 

Spotting a camera in my hand, one of them posed for the pictures!

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Let’s dance

 

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The furry character with a  group leader right behind him

They were playing pranks on the passers-by and riders. Here’s one such shot where this “furry” character was scaring a female rider.

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The yatra passed from Tripolia Gate towards Tarkeshwar temple, a prominent Shiva temple which predates the founding of Jaipur city. Even though it draws a huge number of devotees throughout the year, during Sawan the number swells up. After paying a visit to the shrine, the yatra commenced its return journey.

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Kanwariyas in the old city area

The beauty of such Yatra is that it includes men of all age and strata. You can find both young and old, rich and poor.

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Heading back.

 

Is it ethical to click pictures of people on the street?

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I have been sharing pictures from my photo-walks in Jaipur over the last few months. I was battling with an important question – whether clicking pictures of people on the street is ethical?

A few months ago, I shared my thoughts in one of my post -11 seconds. Many readers were of the opinion that clicking pictures of people on the street is unethical. I also had a similar opinion as I had refrained from clicking people on the street. Over a period of time, I read and exchanged views with other photographers as well as experienced it first-hand. I have come to realize that most people on the street are pleased with being clicked. There are a few who refuse to be captured. It is important to recognize their right.

It is revealing that a large number of people on the street don’t have access to their own photographs. There have been times when I was carrying a DSLR traversing through the bazaars and some of these people asked me to click their pictures. Realizing this I not only clicked their pictures but also handed them over a hard copy on my next visit. Jaipur being a tourist city attracting visitors from across the globe street life photography is a regular feature. Jaipurites make a lovely photography subject. What are your thoughts?

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94 thoughts on “Kanwar Yatra In Jaipur| A Photography Walk

  1. Very nice to experience this yatra thru your lens Arv! I did not know about this tradition. I liked the fact that people of all ages and economical background come together for this yatra and am hoping it is open to people of all castes too?
    About taking people’s photos, I am glad you give them a hard copy of their photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sandhya, Indian culture is rich and vibrant. Until a few years ago, there weren’t many Kanwar Yatra and I never bothered to pay attention.
      Since these yatra originates from colonies, people are welcome to join from those areas. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Like

  2. Great virtual tour with the devotees for us, thanks for doing it.
    And you asked a very difficult question, there is no straightforward answer for sure. I also try no take such pictures, but at times these candid captures have significant importance form the photography point of view. I generally take the shot candidly unless I have a zoom lens fitted. I avoid shooting pictures of the people which will make them embarrassed if they see it later. When you are in a public place and a public event these shots looks ok to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Raj, the general consensus among photographers is that clicking people in public place is okay with certain riders. Press photographers cover such events and people are happy to pose for them. I see no reason why photographers can’t click people in such a scenario. Well, these thoughts vary from person to person. Yes, it’s a difficult question with no easy answers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Coming from a skilled photographer, it means a lot. “:)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agree with you, but sometimes things can get bit too tricky.. I have abstained from posting some pics which I felt ok to shoot in a public place… One has to use common sense basically.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True. Of all the street photography that I do, I don’t post more than ten percent of those here on my blog. Did you check out my post on faceless portraits? This might interest you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Privacy is also a very important issue here in Canada. At the end of the day, laws cannot control what you do with your camera. It all boils down to courtesy and respect. It is best if possible to ask people for permission. Great photos, Arv!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the insight. It’s a very debatable topic as I mentioned above. I also leaned towards your views. I have also realised that in developed societies people are concerned about privacy issues but here it is different. People are worried if you click pictures of their house but they are fine with getting themselves clicked. So the attitudes vary a lot. Clicking people is OK in the street but not acceptable in a mall. It’s all subjective. I always look out for reactions​ and facial expressions. I understand your concern about respect. We all deserve that. I will share more of my experience in coming posts.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved the fact that you didn’t attempt to cover everything and rather just focused on just this one thing – Kanwar Yatra. Ideally, most others would start posting pictures of the buildings, monuments, sceneries and everything else that is not remotely related to Kanwar Yatra. Just for the sake of photography and publishing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With photo-walks I focus purely on the subject. As you rightly mentioned that one can get distracted easily with so much going around. Have you checked out my previous photo-walks? Do check them out, I’m sure you will enjoy the street scenes from Jaipur. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love reading about local customs and as always you provide us with awesome images and great text, Arv as regards to snapping people I think when it is a procession it is ok if I am in a market or similar I always ask as I wouldn’t just like someone taking a photo of me…But Thais love their photo taken and are happy to pose, we always get asked when we sit and eat street food as I think being European they love to show that we enjoy their food and in that instance I am happy to do so 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, Asian culture is in a stark contrast to western. Which is why in West it is unacceptable to photograph people because privacy is a big thing. Here in Asia people live in community and privacy has a different meaning. I don’t intend that privacy and right of people should be ignored but it all depends on local practices and acceptance. Eating with hands​ in the West is a sign of an uncivilized person but it is a chosen way in Asia. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes it certainly is Arv and we eat far more with our hands now than we did in the West but markets are the same East or West most stall holders like you to photograph their wares… 🙂 People are a different matter and really it is down to individuals and out of politness we should ask 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Arv, these are great images ( or clicks), portraying beautifully this event. As you mention photographing people on the streets is always a very sensitive issue to be handled carefully and with respect for the other’s willingness to be photographed. As a tourist in the lovely country of India 2 years ago, I had tried to keep that respect in often asking people if I can take pictures od them. Besides of few exceptions, people responded so well for my request, even in holy places like Haridwar. But maybe so , because I am tourist? I experienced three times on my trip, that locals would get kind of mad at me, and I would immediately put my camera down and apologize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cornelia, most people on the Street are ok with photographing themselves. There are exceptions though as you need to use common sense and logic. So many times people ask to be photographed when they spot a camera. This happened last week itself when two young boys requested me. I think most of us are smart enough to understand this. In some places like Pushkar and Varanasi people expect you to tip them if you photograph them, thanks to media photographers from the west who have engaged in this practice. More so in Pushkar fair. The Outlook on this subject among people in India is different from USA.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s always a pleasure to read your point of view and interact, Cornelia.I’m sure someone who has undertaken photography in both places can understand it better. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great pictures. Karwar Yatra was in the news for all the wrong reasons. The furry characters are strange as it doesn’t quite go with the theme of this being a religious activity. The female leaders demonstrate that society is changing towards more being more inclusive. Also, your points on clicking people on the streets makes sense as I too used to think clicking people could be an offensive activity – but not quite in our country surely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that those characters are not in line with the event but everything is changing. I assume this is a reflection of a change too. For years I have refrained from clicking people. But I realised my thinking required a change. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Neel. Haven’t seen you around, lately. Been busy?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True, we need to change with time and situation. Nothing is forever.
        I have been traveling all of Sept, personal and official. Hence, was away. In fact just got a window of 2 days. Off tomorrow again.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking time out to share your thoughts. This is the least I could do for them. It is nice to see that they were quite happy with the printed copy of their pictures. I guess I should someday share those pictures. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The kanwars look pretty disciplined out there 😀
    I got introduced to this ritual here in Delhi and also the fact one needs to keep a distance from them. A slight touch or brush can turn things ugly. Being such a populous city this can happen at times.
    But its interesting to see the dak kanwars, individual or group kanwars on foot….. jazzed up vehicles with shiv bhajans blaring.
    There are many resting pads or shivars on their route and I am told its not easy to manage one …… lots of ifs and buts keeping in mind the purpose of the yatra and staunch customs attached to it.
    Very interesting subject and captures Arvind!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monika, The Kanwar here don’t cover a long distance so there are no rest areas. That might be applicable to the ones heading to Haridwar. I’m not aware about the other aspect you mentioned. I have seen a couple of Kanwar Yatra here and all of them are organized. I’m glad you liked this post, Monica. Have you ever photographed Kanwariyas?

      Like

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