Indian Monsoon Adventure – the streets of Kolkata and Ambubachi Mela in Guwahati with In-Public photographer Maciej Dakowicz.
Are you ready for some proper adventure? Have you ever experienced the Indian monsoon? Have you ever witnessed a mysterious Hindu festival? No? It’s time to change it!
Workshop group: 4 participants only.
Current availability: 1 place booked, 3 places available.
22 – 30 June 2015
Guwahati and Kolkata, India.
The first days of the workshop will be spent in Guwahati shooting the fascinating Ambubachi Mela. The last 3 days the group will spend in Kolkata practising street photography.
The Ambubachi Mela is the most important mela celebrated in the Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, Assam. This yearly mela is celebrated during the monsoon season that happens to fall around the middle of June, when the Brahmaputra river is in spate. It is the celebration of the yearly menstruation course of goddess Kamakhya. It is believed that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this time stretch. It is also believed that during the monsoon rains the creative and nurturing power of the ‘menses’ of Mother Earth becomes accessible to devotees at this site during the mela. There is no idol of the presiding deity but she is worshipped in the form of a yoni-like stone instead over which a natural spring flows.
This mela is also known as Ameti or Tantric fertility festival since it is closely associated with Tantric Shakti cult prevalent in eastern parts of India. Even some Tantric Babas make their public appearances only during these four days. The rest of the year, they remain in seclusion. Some Babas are seen displaying their psychic powers like putting their heads in a pit and stand upright on it, standing on one leg for hours at a stretch.
The temple remains closed for three days during the mela for it is believed that mother earth becomes unclean for three days like the traditional women’s menstrual seclusion. During these three days some restrictions are observed by the devotees like not cooking, not performing puja or reading holy books, no farming etc. After three days devi Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed to ensure that the devi retrieves her purity. Then the doors of the temple are reopened and prasad is distributed. On the fourth day the devotees are allowed to enter the temple and worship devi Kamakhya.
Every year thousands of pilgrims, starting from Sadhus to householders, from all over India, come to Guwahati to observe this festival. They include Sanyasins, black clad Aghoras, the Khade-babas, the Baul or singing minstrels of West Bengal, intellectual and folk Tantriks, Sadhus and Sadhvis with long matted hair etc.
More information about Ambubachi Mela:
Photos from previous melas:
It will be a very practical workshop and there will be a lot of shooting every day. A very small group of max 4 participants means a high level of interaction with Maciej. You will be working in pairs changing “partners” after the lunch break. While shooting with Maciej you will have a chance to observe him at work, learn his techniques and tricks, and receive an instant feedback on your photographic technique. A special attention will be put on developing and practising “social skills” – an interaction with local people. You will not only be a fly on the wall hunting for decisive moments like Henri Cartier-Bresson, but also get really close to people, engage, talk and photograph them. Maciej is a very experienced travel and street photographer and you will learn a great deal of new things. In the evenings you will edit and discuss your freshly taken photos in the group together with Maciej. There will be plenty of opportunities to talk photography too. Maciej will also present several slideshow presentations in which theoretical and practical aspects of street photography will be outlined and discussed. All previous workshop participants found them very useful.
It will be a very memorable week that will change you not only as a photographer, but as a person too. You will return back home confident, inspired and motivated to keep developing as a photographer.
Currency Converter: http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/
The participants of the workshops are responsible for all travel costs, including the visa, air tickets, food, accommodation and local transport. Luckily India is still a rather affordable place to be.
The whole group will preferably stay at the same accommodation and the choice of the hotel will be made together.
Wanna join?Just drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fantastic.
Below are some of Maciej’s photos from Kolkata shot during previous photo tours (each taken while shooting with a workshop participant).
Please also take a look at the reports from different previous workshops to understand how unique they are. There are many behind the scene photos and pictures taken by the students: www.maciejdakowicz.com/photography-workshops#past-workshops. Great memories!
ABOUT Maciej Dakowicz
Maciej is an experienced Polish photographer, traveller and gallerist based in Mumbai, India. He holds a PhD in computer science, but abandoned science to focus on photography. He is one of the founders of Third Floor Gallery in Cardiff and a member of the international street photography collective In-Public. He has worked on various photographic projects worldwide and his interests are in documentary, travel and street photography.
Maciej’s photos have been widely published and exhibited around the world, shown at photo festivals and he is a recipient of numerous awards. He was profiled in two major street photography books published by Thames & Hudson – “Street Photography Now” in 2010 and “The World Atlas of Street Photography” in 2014. Maciej’s first monograph Cardiff After Dark was published in October 2012.