Sunday Chronicle headliners 14 Dec 2019 Frames and festiviti ...

Frames and festivities

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | ANUSHKA MUKHERJEE
Published Dec 15, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated Dec 15, 2019, 12:00 am IST
In his photographs, Renith Valsaraj seeks people, their culture and the celebration of human life.
(L-R) Naga tribe members take a break around the morung, which is a youth dormitory and learning centre for men; it is customary for the Nagas to carry their traditional weapon, the Dao, at all times.
 (L-R) Naga tribe members take a break around the morung, which is a youth dormitory and learning centre for men; it is customary for the Nagas to carry their traditional weapon, the Dao, at all times.

The Hornbill Festival, often called the ‘festival of festivals’, brings together the different tribes of Nagaland. As a celebration of colours and demonstrations unfolds, photographer Renith, who was present at ground zero between December 1 and 10 this year, finds that it’s a privilege to be able to experience it all. Some elements stand out as subjects of photography. “The tribes demonstrate their cooking,” Renith explains, “and it is amazing to see how they cook silkworms, dog meat, frog over an open fire.” Many members of the tribe also enjoy rice beer right out of a bull’s horn. To capture the colourful traditions of life far removed from urbania is what Renith aims to do.

With no formal training in photography, and yet equipped with the distinct ability to take a viewer where the ordinary eye does not go, Renith took a sabbatical to dedicate his time to this project. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but my profession didn’t allow me to,” he elaborates, speaking about his previous job at an IT firm. “Now, I have enough time to really explore these cultures, that you don’t get to see or even hear about in the rest of the country.” The photographer strives to bring out the unnoticed beauty in the ordinary movement of people, in the vastness of a landscape.

 

Every tribe has its own demonstrations — and in colourful images of music, dancing and celebration, a single frame captures its spirit. However, Renith’s eye for photography goes beyond these. “You get to enjoy the costumes, the colours and the joy of the people here — but you know, even the skies there are beautiful! It is a wonderful experience to be there,” he says, on a concluding note.

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