Sunday, September 20, 2015

Praising Ganesha

People pray during the Ganesha festival in Nakhon Nayok Sunday. 

Sunday was the annual Ganesha festival in Nakhon Nayok. Ganesha is the Hindu deity usually represented as an elephant figure. He's the "overcomer of obstacles" and tremendously popular in the Hindu world and revered by many Thai Buddhists. The Ganesha festival in Nakhon Nayok is actually held a week or so before the Ganesha festivals in other Hindu communities in Thailand, so people come up to Nakhon Nayok and then attend other Ganesha festivals the next weekend. 
People wait to have their Ganesha statues blessed at the festival. 

Coincidently, this year's festival fell on the third anniversary of my move to Thailand. One of the first events I covered when I got here was the Ganesha Festival in Nakhon Nayok in 2012, when I was still living in a hotel. Photographing Ganesha has sort of become a tradition for me - a way of marking the passage of time
Men march in the procession to the river where the Ganesha deities were sent downstream. 

September is the middle of the rainy season here and it's rained on all of the other Ganesha festivals I've covered. The rain is a mixed blessing. The Nakhon Nayok festival ends with a 2.5 kilometer procession from the temple to a nearby river. Walking in the procession in the rain is kind of messy. This year was a beautiful cloudless sky. Walking in the procession in the tropical heat under a beautiful cloudless sky is brutal. Photographically, the river is due east from the temple, so the procession was horribly backlit almost every step of the way. 
At the river, a large statue of Ganesha was loaded into a small, dangerously overcrowded, boat taken out to the middle of the river, lowered over the side and floated downstream.

Thailand is an amazingly diverse country, so much more than curries and Buddhist temples. I think one of the reasons I like photographing Ganesha is that it serves as a reminder of how diverse it is. There are more photos from Ganesha in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.
Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.