When preparing to move from the UK to India almost everyone I encountered talked about the abundance of festivals that was enjoyed throughout the regions of India. I was intrigued and excited about the prospect of joining in and experiencing some of the talked about celebrations, but even then I certainly was not prepared for what I encountered.  The groups of families and friends enjoying and sharing the joviality of the event. The children looking upon the festival with amazement, bewilderment and pleasure all mixed together. The people of India certainly know how to celebrate whether it is the Mysore Dassara, Diwali, Holi or even an annual flower festival. The pride of belonging to such a diverse and yet paradox country is shown throughout the audiences emotions and mannerisms.  The colours of the saris more vibrant than ever, sequins sparkling in the sun, the rich colours dancing in the light framed the emotions exposed during these precious times.  The peals of laughter made it easy to identify the fun loving individuals wearing wide beaming smiles, eyes full of amusement. With such a lot of photo opportunities it became challenging to get the appropriate pictures, the crowds often blocking the vantage point but with patience and a selection of lens the task was rewarding.

The young brides-to-be dressed in their finery, waiting to be blessed during the Holi festival of colours.  The mixture of vendors, selling their wares to the crowd of people, hoping for a successful business day.  The young entrepreneurs’ offering unique services from weighing clients on their portable scales, to embroidering the name of customers onto fobs.  Even the young men selling bubbles wore expressions of pride on this his busy day. During such events I often thought about back home and struggled to remember when the last time the whole of my family got together and had enjoyed such a celebration.  I believe it was at a wedding!

The fun of the Holi celebrations began with laughter and dance, the entertaining drummers oblivious to anyone around them. The colours highlighted by the roaring fire as the participant’s danced around the base.  The costumes of the contributors of the Dassara were breath taking. The crowds screening the parade made it challenging to capture the photographs that I wanted; thank goodness I had my 100mm – 500mm lens with me.  I was pleased to capture many of the members of the parade the guardsmen with horse hair, dancing characters, acrobatics showing their skills and the precision of the rangers who managed the elephants to perfection.

I was in awe of the people who surrounded me during these events I observed yet again the strength of the women as they kept their families together all dressed in their best outfits, babies soothed through the noise, picnics prepared with love and care.  The streets crowded with all ages enjoying the experience regardless to if they had come from a local village or if they had travelled afar.  Looking around the crowds it was like being in various parts of India as you identified people from Rajasthan, North India and South India, it was a delight to observe such a mixture of individuals in one place.

The flowers in bloom showing the vivid colours I had so often experienced in the dress of the Indian women were complimented by the effervescent colours of the balloons, windmills and bubbles being displayed by the vendors.  Although not a festival like the Dassara, still a family day out with everyone showing emotions of fun and pleasure, an escape from their daily routine.  As I observed the young woman selling her balloons I was mesmerised by the different emotions she was showing in such a short time, attitude…… was she warning the customers not to mess with her as she was there for a purpose, to earn enough to feed the family.  Perplexed….had someone annoyed her, maybe they hadn’t bought the balloon after all and had wasted precious time! What I couldn’t capture was a smile not even a small grin crossed her face she was there for a specific purpose and nothing was going to distract her.  The bubbles being displayed by the young man were catching everyone’s attention especially the children, a look of success when the bubbles flowed fluently, lit up his face followed with smiles as the children chased the bubbles.  The windmills spun with the wind showing a kaleidoscope of colours complimenting the colours of the proudly dressed women. 

There is no wonder that I am passionate about photographing India and especially the strength of the women of India, where else in the world is such diversity mixed with pride and strength displayed?  As shown by the emotions and carefully selected colourful attire there is a clear message being sent out to all the country and indeed other parts of the world, India known to the world as Brilliant India, the colourful country? You can read more about my perceptions and experiences and why I choose to capture the images that I do in my travels, in further editions of Asian Photography. Please visit my website www.elleje.comto see more of my portrayals.